“We look forward to kicking off a new season and the expectations for ’08 are, as we know, pretty high,” Miles said.
It has been well documented of the opponent that the No. 6 ranked Tigers will face to open the campaign and after Appalachian State pulled off one of the biggest upsets of all time to open the 2007 season there should not be anyone looking past this Mountaineer squad that is tabbed No. 1 in the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision polls.
“Appalachian State is a very fine football team,” Miles said. “The Mountaineers have great tradition and winning. Anytime you play a program where a team is used to winning they bring a little bit more to the table. They’re going to be very competitive and we understand that. We expect it to be a very competitive game Saturday.”
Appalachian State’s big threat on offense is junior quarterback Armanti Edwards, who is one of only six players in Division I history (FCS or Football Bowl Subdivision), to pass for 2,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in a season which he accomplished as a freshman in 2006.
The 6-foot, 184-pound junior is one of the top players overall in the FCS ranks and the Tigers are well aware of what he brings to the table.
“If you look at their offense, Armanti Edwards is a terrific player,” Miles said. “He throws the ball well, is fast and makes a lot of quality decisions in their offense. He’s certainly a very talented quarterback and will be a great challenge.”
While the Tigers have watched plenty of film on Edwards, the Mountaineers have not seen nearly as much of the Tigers’ starting quarterback, whoever that may be.
“We have great confidence in all three of them,” said Miles. I can’t tell you today who will take the field first but I can tell you that I will be comfortable with whoever that is. We’ll kind of see how that plays out from here.”
The quarterback battle has been a hot topic during fall camp and a couple of weeks ago Miles said that he could see all three of his signal callers, Hatch, Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson, getting playing time this season.
As the season opener approaches it doesn’t appear that his stance has changed.
“I can tell you that Jarrett Lee’s back is not an issue at this time and there is nothing but health there,” Miles said. “From this point forward we’ll make those decisions as we go but I wouldn’t be surprised to see all three play at certain times.”
After a grueling three weeks on the practice fields Miles likes where his team is at heading into the opener.
“I like how our team progressed through two-a-days,” said Miles. “They improved at really each position but the opener is the true test as are certainly all of the other games you play. It tells you where you’re at and kind of sets the level.”
“Helms has practiced the last two practices and we really feel there will be no limitations at center,” Miles said. “Charles Alexander is supposed to go today and we’ll see how that goes but we’re optimistic that he’ll be ready to play.”
Aside from those two there are a couple of players who may be questionable but Miles would not give details.
“One of those guys,” Miles said in jest when asked who they were.
Thursday is D-Day
Andrew Hatch did not give any indications that he knew who the starting quarterback would be for Saturday but Miles alluded to Thursday being the day that he tells the guys who will take the first snap.
Punt by Committee
“Dalfrey will play and I wouldn’t be surprised if Jasper played as well,” Miles said.
True Freshmen Update
“I think you’ll see a lot of our freshmen playing in special teams,” Miles said. “I think this group has great speed and I think they are really physical at running down kicks. Ryan Baker is slated to play a lot on special teams. I think Patrick Peterson will play a lot of football and Brandon Taylor in my opinion will get on the field. I think there are a number of others that will kind of filter in in some of those special teams.”