Chattanooga at Appalachian State
Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET
Kidd Brewer Stadium (23,150) • Boone, N.C.
Radio: ESPN 105.1 FM
Series Record: ASU leads 26-10
Why Saturday is important
The Southern Conference title race is heating up, and Chattanooga — 4-1 in league play — is right in the thick of things. The Mountaineers, just 2-3 in the SoCon, can’t say the same. That doesn’t make Saturday’s matchup any less crucial for the Mocs. They need one more victory to become eligible for the FCS playoffs, but they’ll likely need to win each of their next three to secure the conference crown. UTC hasn’t won at Appalachian State in three decades — a string of 14-straight losses — and Saturday’s game marks the final time the Mocs will face the Mountaineers as members of the SoCon.
Three things to know about Appalachian State
The Mountaineers have been one of the most disappointing teams in the nation this season. After being picked to finish second in the SoCon this preseason, Appalachian State, which is playing with more than the FCS-allotted 63 scholarships, has struggled to a 2-6 start, including a brutal four-game losing streak with setbacks to Charleston Southern (27-24), The Citadel (31-28, OT), Samford (34-10) and Furman (27-10). That drought was ended with last week’s 38-14 win over fellow SoCon defector Georgia Southern. ... Two of the league’s top skill players, Appalachian State quarterback Jamal Londry-Jackson and wide receiver Sean Price, have been non-factors in 2013. Londry-Jackson, the preseason SoCon Offensive Player of the Year, has struggled with injuries and has since been replaced by sophomore signal caller Kameron Bryant. Price, a preseason All-American, was dismissed from the team earlier this month for disciplinary reasons. ... Freshman running back Marcus Cox has been one of the Mountaineers’ most consistent offensive performers this season. The three-time SoCon Freshman of the Week award recipient has piled up 699 yards and six scores on the season. He ran for 104 yards and a score in last week’s 38-14 win over Georgia Southern — his third 100-yard rushing performance of 2013.
What you should know about Appalachian State head coach Scott Satterfield
Satterfield has spent 17 of the last 22 years at Appalachian State as a student-athlete and coach, and was named the 20th head football coach in school history on Dec. 14, 2012, replacing FCS legend Jerry Moore. Satterfield served as an assistant under Moore from 1998-2008. He also made brief coaching stops at Toledo (2009) and Florida International (2010-11), before returning to his alma mater as offensive coordinator in 2012. It’s been a very rough first season for Satterfield, but he notched his first signature win over Georgia Southern a week ago.
Chattanooga player to watch
The Mocs will be without running back Keon Williams for the second straight week on Saturday. That means junior Marquis Green, sophomore Kendrix Huitt and even true freshman Derrick Craine will have to carry the running load once again. Chattanooga’s passing game has left something to be desired this season, so if quarterback Jacob Huesman is forced to throw the ball 30-plus times, the Mocs might be in trouble.
Appalachian State player to watch
Quarterback Kameron Bryant has started the last four games under center for ASU, and he’s coming off his best performance of the season. The 6-foot-1, 210-pounder completed 27-of-33 pass attempts for 381 yards and two touchdowns. He’s got a couple of very skilled receiving options at his disposal, too. Bryant’s decision making on Saturday could determine the outcome.
Random facts to impress your friends
Keon Williams, who missed all of last week’s game with an ankle injury, will travel with the team to Appalachian State, but the SoCon’s fourth-leading rusher will not play against the Mountaineers. ... Saturday marks the 37th meeting between the two schools in a series that dates back to 1977 when the Mocs joined the SoCon. ASU holds a 26-10 series advantage, and the UTC is just 3-15 when playing in Boone, N.C. ... Appalachian State is the only SoCon school that Chattanooga’s Russ Huesman hasn’t defeated as a head coach. He’s come close, though. In 2010, the Mocs suffered a 42-41 home loss to ASU, and they were defeated 14-12 at Kidd Brewer Stadium the following season. ... Chattanooga still leads the SoCon in several defensive categories, including total defense (313.2 ypg), scoring defense (17.6 ppg), pass defense (135.0 ypg) and pass defense efficiency (111.6). The Mocs are second in the league sacks (13) and interceptions (7). ... The last three SoCon Defensive Players of the Week have all been Mocs. Junior defensive end Davis Tull garnered recognition for his 3.5-sack performance against Furman, senior linebacker Wes Dothard received the honor the following week after recording a season-high 13 tackles at Elon and junior linebacker Muhasibi Wakeel’s completed the three-peat with his 17-tackle afternoon against The Citadel. ... UTC is fifth in the nation in fewest penalties (4.0) and 14th in the FCS in fewest penalty yards per game (33.9).
“It’s the same thing we talk about every week. This game shouldn’t be any different. It should be our goal to get [win] number seven. We’re playing App — that’s who we’re playing — but it doesn’t matter who we’re playing. We can’t get all jacked up because it’s App. We’ve got to play our game like we play it.”
— Chattanooga head coach Russ Huesman
The Mocs will win if ...
The defense limits Appalachian State’s explosive offense and forces quarterback Kameron Bryant to make quick decisions. The Mountaineers are dead last in the SoCon in turnover margin (-3), that’s been the main reason for their struggles in 2013.
The Mocs will lose if ...
Bryant gets into an early rhythm and delivers a repeat performance from last week’s win over Georgia Southern. Tackling will also be key for UTC. When skill players Anthony Peacock, Tony Washington and Marcus Cox get into the open field, Chattanooga defenders need to get on the ground quickly.
Chattanooga 28, Appalachian State 27
Michael Murphy covers UTC athletics for Nooga.com. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelNooga.
Sign up for our email list to get your morning news delivered directly to your inbox. All we need is your email address.