FINAL APP STATE SCRIMMAGE FEATURES BIG PLAYS

After 14 intense spring practice sessions Appalachian State competed heavily in a fully-officiated 102-play final scrimmage to end an inexplicably warm spring camp. The day was mostly controlled by a defense that has been brutal throughout camp but not without some offensive fireworks. Penalties also played a bigger role than on any other previous day as emotions reached their peak.

Appalachian State heads out of spring camp having completed the 15th and final practice on March 4th, and into spring and summer workouts fully focused on defending the Sun Belt Championship they shared last season.

The final day of spring ball featured a 102-play scrimmage from various starting points on the field, anywhere from the offensive 36-yard line all the way down to the defense’s three-yard line.

As has been the prevalent theme throughout App State spring camp, the defense would’ve won in a boxing-style scoring system, frequently forcing the offense from the field with no points, but the offense landed more haymakers in the final session than in any other scrimmage of the spring.

Big plays were prevalent on both sides of the ball, as were penalties which had some catastrophic results in both directions.

Based on VERY unofficial App State Mania stats from the scrimmage, here’s a review of the session’s results:

OFFENSE

- The offense’s first three drives all stalled, but in spite of the failure to sustain the drives there was one classically Taylor Lamb moment among them. Facing a 3rd-down and five, the shotgun snap came rolling towards Lamb’s feet, but rather than panic Lamb simply scooped up the errant snap, rolled left to buy some time, and found Jalin Moore on a dump-down for 15 yards. It was the typical Lamb saavy that has marked his career.

- On the fourth drive of the day, quarterback J.P. Caruso, fighting for his spot in the rotation, hit receiver Mock Adams perfectly on a timing pattern that Adams turned into a 55-yard catch-and-run. On the next play Caruso found tight end Collin Reed on a sit-down route in the vacated middle of the defense, and Reed turned and bulled into the end zone.

- After three straight scoreless drives, the offense took just one play to find the end zone. Running back Terrence Upshaw worked the zone-read perfectly behind the left side of the line and exploded for a 64-yard scoring run. Upshaw ran for 119 yards on just eight carries during the scrimmage session.

- But from that point, the offense would go eight straight possessions without a meaningful drive or score, harassed by intense defensive pressure in the backfield and multiple holding penalties.

- Then, with the scrimmage over 50 plays old, penalties started to have an impact on offensive drives, both positive and negative.

On a drive beginning at the defensive 46, the offense began using bootlegs and a moving pocket to offset defensive pressure, working back to back passes from quarterback Jacob Huesman to fellow redshirt freshman tight end Mitchell McClurg for a first down. Then, with the drive stalled on third down kicker Michael Rubino pulled a 48-yard field goal attempt wide left, but, an offside call on the defense left the offense in 4th-and-short. Upshaw broke a 26-yard TD run on the next play against a stacked defense.

Seven drives later, a 22-yard Upsahw run had the offense inside the five-yard line and a defensive pass interference call then put the ball at the one-yard line, where Upshaw bulled in for his third score of the day.

Two drives after that, however, a pass from quarterback Zac Thomas to tight end Levi Duffield went to the one-yard line, but Duffield drew an unsportsmanlike penalty after the catch that pushed the ball back to the 16. The drive eventually stalled after a fumbled shotgun snap, a theme on the day, leaving the offense scoreless on the trip.

- The offense would score two more touchdowns, but both times starting from the defense’s three-yard line, and one of those requiring a fourth-down conversion.

All told, the offense scored six touchdowns on 29 separate drives, with 315 total yards (112 rushing/203 passing) on 103 plays. However, the yardage totals were primarily driven from 205 yards on just six plays (three of which were Upshaw carries). Outside of those six explosive plays, the offense could manage just 110 yards on the remaining 96 plays.

Overall, there were 60 rushing attempts for 112 yards, led by Upshaw’s 119 yards, which shows the impact of negative plays (tackles for loss, sacks). Quarterbacks combined to go 18-42 for 203 yards, with two interceptions (both Caruso) and one touchdown (also Caruso). With Lamb seeing just three series on the day, Huesman went 7-14 for 38 yards, Thomas was 4-16 for 65 yards (also had a rushing TD), and Caruso went 5-9 for 83 yards.

Among the receivers, Adams was pushing 70 receiving yards, Ike Lewis had a 33-yard catch, Reed’s scoring catch continued a recent stretch of red zone success for him, and Brad Absher was a popular check-down choice out of the slot with five catches.

One additional observation of note, shotgun snaps were inconsistent again as there were five instances of low snaps that either rolled to the quarterback or resulted in fumbled exchanges. In most instances, they also led to sacks as the offensive timing broke down or QBs were forced to fall on the loose ball.

DEFENSE

- More of the same as we’ve seen in previous sessions – intense front-seven pressure causing havoc for the offense. Nine total sacks (four of which came on faulty snaps, as just noted), eight quarterback pressures, and 12 tackles for loss kept the offense off-balance.

- The parade of pass rushers was led primarily by DOG outside linebacker Rashaad Townes, but was also aided by Chris Willis, Akeem Davis, Okon Godwin, and linebackers Eric Boggs and Jordan Fehr.

- The defense forced 13 three-and-out offensive possession and also snagged two interceptions, by Shemar Jean-Charles and Austin Exford, and all four first/second team corners Clifton Duck, Tae Hayes, Brandon Pinckney, and Jean-Charles broke up passes on the day. Redshirt freshman strong safety Kaiden Smith also made several plays and brought intense physicality from the secondary.

- Still the elimination of those six big offensive plays noted earlier will be a priority as the film from the scrimmage is broken down by defensive staff. Though, it’s worth noting that the defense was in high-risk mode yesterday, occasionally sending seven-man blitzes and running zero coverage in the secondary. Spring camp is a time to roll those dice and see how the defense holds up, and the offense made them pay a few times.

SPECIAL TEAMS

- Michael Rubino was solid again, missing just the 48-yarder which was nullified via defensive penalty.

- However, there was a big play on an earlier 48-yard Rubino attempt blocked by Duck, which he then scooped up and returned for a defensive score.

Also noted earlier were penalties. There were 10 totals, evenly dispersed between offense and defense and many coming late in the scrimmage session as tempers wore thin and fatigue set in.

The scrimmage completed spring camp for 2017 and the Mounatineers’ focus now turns to Coach Mike Sirignano and the strength and conditioning program for the remainder of spring and summer.

POSTPRACTICE COACH INTERVIEWS

HEAD COACH SCOTT SATTERFIELD

WIDE RECEIVER COACH JUSTIN WATTS

CORNERBACK COACH BRYAN BROWN

CO-DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR & SECONDARY COACH SCOT SLOAN


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