Appalachian State Football 2015 Season Preview


The Appalachian State Mountaineers are full fledged members of the FBS now and look to make their first bowl game after a 7-5 season last year. 

Appalachian State started off slow last year with a 1-5 record as their move to the FBS from the FCS experienced some early hurdles to clear in their transition into the Sun Belt Conference.

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Second-year head coach Scott Satterfield got the Mountaineers on track in the middle of the year and finished with a six-game winning streak to finish 7-5 and finish third in the Sun Belt with a 6-2 conference mark.

With 20 returning starters, the most in the nation, Appalachian State is poised for a run at the conference championship and after being ineligible for the postseason last year, look to earn a bid to a bowl game.

Offensive Outlook

Offensively, the Mountaineers will rely on 5-10, 200-pound running back Marcus Cox who led the team in rushing with 1,415 yards and 19 touchdowns last year. He was literally half of the team’s rushing attack last year that finished with an average of 241.8 yards per game, 20th in the nation, and there’s depth behind him in Terrence Upshaw and Ricky Ferguson. That duo rushed for 573 and 292 yards, respectively and should benefit from a veteran offensive line paving the way.

Taylor Lamb returns at quarterback after an impressive redshirt freshman season last year that saw him pass Kameron Bryant on the depth chart and completed 61.4 percent of his passes for 2,381 yards for 17 touchdowns to nine interceptions. Half of his interceptions came in his first six games but finished with an 8:3 TD:INT ratio in the final six games of the year.

He needs a receiver to emerge as a deep threat to take the pressure off the running game that’s been so dominant but the threat of the deep ball would give Lamb more room to work with and take a defender out of the box and give Cox more room to run. Senior Malachi Jones is the leading receiver after catching 36 balls for 585 yards and three touchdowns last year. Simms McElfresh, Montez McGuire, Shaedon Meadors and Bobo Beathard all return after having at least 200 yards last year.

Defensive Outlook

The Appalachian State defense struggled in the first half of the year, which is why they were 1-5, but the bend-but-don’t break defense came together in the second half of the year and an improved pass rush was instrumental in the team’s six-game win streak to close the season. Senior defensive end Ronald Blair led the team with six sacks and looks to hit double-digits this year. The team has 22 sacks in the final six games so if they can match that production and do it over the course of the entire season, the Mountaineers will be a force in the passing game.

Appalachian State’s rush defense was vulnerable, especially in the red zone, where the Mountaineers gave up 19 rushing touchdowns inside the 20. Opposing team scored touchdowns nearly two-thirds (63.8 percent) of the time when they reached the red zone, so limiting teams to a few field goals instead of touchdowns will make a difference in closely fought games against the Sun Belt’s best teams.


Appalachian State is going to be a fun offense to watch this year with Cox leading one of the nation’s best rushing attacks and I’m curious to see the improvements Lamb has made since his freshman season. He should be a fine complement to the ground game and put up a lot of points for the Mountaineer offense that averaged 35.7 points per game last year. If the defense can improve on their red zone play and show the pass rush they unleashed at the end of last year, the Mountaineers will be in contention with Georgia Southern and Louisiana Lafayette for the Sun Belt title.

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