Location: Boone, N.C.
School Colors: Black & Gold
Stadium: Kidd Brewer (16,650)
Head Coach: Jerry Moore
Record at ASU: 140-67 (18th year)
2005 Record: 12-3
2005 Postseason: D1-AA Champs
Starters Returning: 14 (7 offense, 7 defense)
2006 Preseason Ranking: No. 1 (I-AA)
Appalachian State Scouting Report
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Trey Elder, QB – Elder has been tapped as the successor to Williams, who holds every single-game, single-season and career record for quarterback at ASU. However, Elder gained great experience when Williams went down with an ankle injury early in last season's national semifi nal versus Furman. Elder completed 12-of-17 passes for 165 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions in relief down of Williams. He capped the impressive performance with a one-yard touchdown run that gave the Mountaineers a 29-23 win over the Paladins and a berth in the national title game. Elder, South Carolina's 2003 Mr. Football at nationally ranked Byrnes High School, is 2-0 as a collegiate starter, having led the Apps to a 41-34 victory over Texas State in 2004 and started the national title game versus UNI last December.
An explosive back, Richardson has big-play capabilities and regarded as one of the top backs in the country.
Matt Isenhour, OT – An all-american selection, Isenhour is regarded as the top blocker in the Southern Conference. A standout at right tackle, he helped paved the way for Richardson's huge season, and he led a line that allowed just 10 sacks in 15 games.
Marques Murrell, DE – Murrell just might be the top defensive player in 1-AA football, as he is coming off a season where he was one of just three players in ‘05 to rank in the top 10 nationally in sacks (13; t-9th), tackles for loss (26.5; 5th) and forced fumbles (7; 3rd). A big-time playmaker, Murrell was directly responsible for six ASU touchdowns in ‘05: ASU scored on first play after forced fumble at Eastern Kentucky, Another forced fumble at EKU is returned for TD, ASU scored on first play after forced fumble at The Citadel, Returned fumble 89 yards for TD at The Citadel (second-longest fumble return in SoCon history), ASU scored on first play after forced fumble in playoff opener versus Lafayette, Forced fumble that was scooped up and returned by Jason Hunter for game-winning touchdown in national championship game versus Northern Iowa.
Corey Lynch, S – The leader of Appalachian's defensive secondary, Lynch has 18 takeways in 28 career games. He has twice intercepted six passes in a season, and the hard hitter from Cape Coral, Fla. has also forced four fumbles in his young career.
Daniel Bettis, TE/DE – Bettis will be doing something just a few football players do across the country, as he will play both ways in 2006. A standout tight end, Bettis is also slated to start at defensive end for the Mountaineers. Bettis becomes ASU's first two-way player since former Mountaineer Cory Jones saw playing time at both fullback and defensive tackle in 2004. However, Jones was not a starter at either position.
Jeremy Wiggins, DB - Looking to become the first Mountaineer since Dexter Coakley to lead Appalachian in tackles three times, defensive back Jeremy Wiggins enters his senior season just 10 stops shy of entering ASU's career top 10. By leading the Apps in tackles as a freshman in 2003 (90) and as a junior last season (134), Wiggins can become the first Appalachian player to lead the team in tackles since Coakley did all four years of his brilliant career. Wiggins' 134 tackles last season were the 10th most in ASU history and the highest total ever for a Mountaineer defensive back.
Appalachian State Game Notes
TOUCHDOWN TIGHT END
Senior tight end Daniel Bettis is a virtual touchdown machine, as he has found the end zone on 13 of his 48 career receptions (27.1 percent).
Bettis' eight touchdown receptions in 2005 led the team and were tied for the most in the Southern Conference.
His eight TD catches in ‘05 were also an Appalachian single-season record for a tight end and tied for the fourth-most by any receiver in ASU single-season history.
O-LINE KEY TO SUCCESS
With four returning starters, six returners that saw signifi cant minutes a year ago and two all-Americans, the offensive line is the heart and soul of the ASU offense. Right tackle Matt Isenhour (all-American and winner of the 2005 Jacobs Blocking Trophy, given to the top offensive lineman in the Southern Conference), right guard Jeremy Robertson, center Scott Suttle (preseason all-conference) and right guard Kerry Brown (preseason all-American) return as starters for a unit that allowed only 10 sacks in 15 games last season.
The unit, which received signifi cant contributions from top reserves Kyle Knox and John Holt in 2005, also paved the way for running back Kevin Richardson to rush for 1,433 yards a season ago, the third-highest total in ASU history. How tight is the bond between the o-line and the Payton Award candidate running back that it blocks for? When the offensive line took its picture as a group on Appalachian's media day, it insisted on Richardson being a part of the shot.
Appalachian has placed at least one player on an all-America squad each of the last 20 seasons. In 17 of those seasons, including each of the last 10, the Mountaineers have produced at least one first-teamer.
In 2005, a school-record seven Apps garnered all-America accolades. Of those seven, fi ve (DE Marques Murrell, OT Matt Isenhour, DB Jeremy Wiggins, DB Corey Lynch and RB Kevin Richardson) return to the squad in ‘06.
BLACK AND GOLD EXPECTED
TO SWARM RALEIGH
Anticipation and expectations are at an all-time high for Appalachian football in 2006 and the interest in the season opener at NC State is certainly no exception.
Appalachian's entire allotment of 3,300 tickets to the game were sold out within 58 minutes of them being put on sale to the general public on August 1.
Additionally, a lottery system had to be established to ensure a fair distribution of tickets to the game for ASU students. Over 2,300 vouchers were distributed in four hours on Aug. 24 for the 375 tickets available to ASU students.
Appalachian has collected six wins versus I-A competition since the advent of the Division I-A/I-AA classifi cations in 1982, the most of any Southern Conference program. All six of ASU's I-A wins have come over local-rival Wake Forest, with five of those victories coming under the tutelage of head coach Jerry Moore.
Despite a record of 6-28-1 versus I-A opponents since the creation of Division I subclassifications, the Mountaineers have put a scare into a number of big-name programs in close losses. Most recently, Appalachian trailed just 14-0 heading into the fourth quarter of a 24-0 loss at No. 6 LSU last Nov. 5. The setback was even closer than the score might indicate, as the Mountaineers mis-handled what would have been a touchdown pass and missed a field goal on separate drive in the third period.
Other close calls versus I-A foes include a 22-15 loss at Auburn on Sept. 4, 1999, a 23-12 setback at Clemson on Sept. 6, 1997 and a 20- 13 defeat at South Carolina on Sept. 7, 1985. In fact, Appalachian held a lead in ninestraight contests versus I-A opponents, beginning with a 12-10 setback at Wake Forest on Sept. 10, 1994 and ending with a loss at nationally ranked Marshall in 2002.
Since Appalachian installed its no-huddle, pass-oriented offense before the 2004 season, big plays have become the norm for the Mountaineers.
ASU has gained 20-plus yards 131 times since the beginning of the 2004 season (7.4 percent of 1,782 total offensive plays). Last season, the Mountaineers racked up a season-high 10 plays of 20-plus yards in a 30-3 romp over No. 17 Coastal Carolina on Sept. 17.
THE NOT-SO-DIRTY DOZEN
Appalachian notched its 12th all-time conference championship when it secured the outright 2005 Southern Conference title. The Mountaineers won six North State Conference championships (1931, ‘37, ‘39, ‘48, ‘50 and ‘54) before suffering through a 32-year title drought, which included their first 14 seasons as members of the Southern Conference.
ASU finally ended the championship skid when it won its first SoCon title in 1986. In all, the Apps have earned six SoCon crowns (1986, ‘87, ‘91, ‘95, ‘99 and 2005) over the past 20 seasons, which is tied with Furman for the second-most during that span (Georgia Southern has won a league-best eight titles since ‘86).
2006 marks the 75th anniversary of Appalachian's first football title — the 1931 North State Conference championship — and the 20th anniversary of its first SoCon championship in 1986.
Appalachian State Head Coach Jerry Moore
Appalachian State media relations contributed to this report.