2011 Football Game Preview: Virginia Tech vs. Appalachian State

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One of the best football programs in the country will be visiting Lane
Stadium on Saturday. Regardless of what division they play in, there are few
programs who have achieved at the same level as Appalachian State over the past
six seasons.

Since 2005, Appalachian State is 71-15, with a 41-4 record in the Southern
Conference. Six of their 15 losses have come to 1-A programs. They won National
Championships in 2005, 2006 and 2007, and have won no fewer than 10 games in any
of the last six seasons.

Jerry Moore has been at Appalachian State since 1989, and at age 72, he isn’t
showing any signs of slowing down. He is one of the winningest Division I
coaches in the history of college football.

Division I Coaches


Eddie Robinson 408
Joe Paterno 401
Bobby Bowden 377
Bear Bryant 323
Roy Kidd 314
Tubby Raymond 300
LaVell Edwards 257
Tom Osborne 255
Lou Holtz 249
Frank Beamer 240
Woody Hayes 238
Bo Schembechler 234
Hayden Fry 232
Jim Tressel 229
Jerry Moore 226
Chris Ault 219
Mack Brown 219

(Note: that table only includes coaches who spent their entire careers
coaching at Division I schools, both 1-A and 1-AA.)

Appalachian State’s success is expected to continue in 2011. The Mountaineers
are ranked #2 in the country in both major 1-AA polls.

This is a winning program, and as you know, they beat Michigan on the road in
2007. They will not be intimidated to play Virginia Tech. As we’ll get into
later, they also feature a couple of the best 1-AA players in the country, guys
who could definitely play at the 1-A level.

Here are some other quick notes …

  • Virginia Tech and Appalachian State are the only two
    Division I programs in the country to have won 10+ games each year for the
    last six years.
  • Appalachian State is 7-38-1 over 1-A opponents since 1978.
  • Jerry Moore has 199 victories at Appalachian State. Frank
    Beamer has 198 wins at Virginia Tech.
  • Appalachian State is 7-27-1 all-time against current
    members of the ACC. All seven wins came against Wake Forest.

The Appalachian State Offense

  • Returning Starters: 6
  • First Team All-Americans: 2
  • Freshman Starters: 3
  • 2010 YPG: 430.85
  • 2010 Rushing YPG: 217.38
  • 2010 Passing YPG: 213.46
  • 2010 PPG: 34.31
  • Formations: Multiple Spread

Appalachian State is one of the most entertaining football teams to watch
in the entire country. The Mountaineers always get great quarterback play, and
they currently have arguably the top two offensive football players in the
Division 1-AA ranks.

DeAndre Presley
(at right: 5-11, 180, Sr.) exploded on the scene last season after
former starter Armanti Edwards went to the Carolina Panthers. Though Presley
might look like a cornerback, don’t let his size fool you … he is one of the
most productive players in college football.

Presley is a perfect fit for the Mountaineer offense. He throws it from the
pocket, he throws outside the pocket, he scrambles, he runs the option, he
does everything. His numbers last season were huge: 210-of-343 (61.2%) for
2,631 yards, with 21 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. He also ran for 1,039
yards, making him just the fourth 1-AA player in history to pass for 2,000
yards and run for 1,000 yards in the same season. He is a dynamic player.

He is also quite capable of playing against 1-A opponents. Last season
against Florida in the The Swamp, he was 19-of-28 for 157 yards, with a
touchdown and no interceptions while rushing for 26 yards on eight carries.
World beating numbers? No, but pretty good ones against Florida while playing
for a 1-AA team.

Presley plays in an offense that uses many spread formations, particularly
four-wide sets. His top wide receiver is Brian Quick (6-5, 220, r-Sr.).
Quick is a legit NFL prospect, rated on many early draft boards as a higher
pick than all three of Virginia Tech’s senior wideouts. In fact, some believe
he will be the first overall 1-AA player selected in the 2012 NFL Draft.

Obviously blessed with great size, Quick has enjoyed an outstanding career
at Appalachian State. He has caught 108 passes for 1,826 yards during the last
two years of his career as a full-time starter. He is the only remaining
Appalachian State player who took part in the 2007 upset at Michigan. Quick
blocked a big field goal in that game, giving his team a chance to win.
However, he was injured and had to take a medical redshirt.

Besides Quick, the Mountaineers aren’t particularly experienced at wide
receiver. Tony Washington (5-10, 195, r-So.) caught four passes last season,
while Andrew Peacock (5-10, 190, r-So.) only caught three. The fourth starting
wide receiver is expected to be Bobo Beathard (5-10, 175, Fr.), who will be
playing in his first college game.

Beathard does have an excellent football pedigree. He played at Battlefield
High School in Haymarket, VA, and he is the grandson of Bobby Beathard, the
former GM of the Redskins and Chargers, and the Director of Player Personnel
for the Dolphins. Seven of Beathard’s NFL teams played in Super Bowls, with
four of them winning.

Logan Hallock (5-11, 185, r-Fr.), Sean Price (6-5, 200, Fr., South Lakes
High School in Reston, VA), and Jamill Lott (6-1, 190, r-So.) are three other
young receivers who could see playing time against the Hokies. From top to
bottom, wide receiver is a very inexperienced position for the Mountaineers.

There is a mixture of youth and experience on the offensive line.

State Offensive Line





LT Kendall Lamm 6-6 280 r-Fr.
LG Kalan Jones 6-4 285 r-Fr.
C Orry Frye 6-2 280 r-Sr.
RG Matt Ruff 6-3 270 r-Sr.
RT Xan Thomas 6-2 285 r-Sr.

Orry Frye and Matt Ruff were high school teammates at Providence High School
in Charlotte, so they have been playing together for a long time. They have both
started 27 consecutive games, though Frye is moving from right tackle to center.

The Mountaineers don’t have ideal size up front, particularly with their
three senior starters. Xan Thomas doesn’t have the ideal height for a right
tackle, though in Appalachian State’s offense that has a minimal impact. The
left side of the line is the biggest, but Kendall Lamm and Kalan Jones will also
be playing in their first college game.

DeAndre Presley is Appalachian State’s best runner, but the Mountaineers do
have experience in the backfield. Travaris Cadet (6-1, 210, r-Sr.) ran for 671
yards last season on just 115 carries, an average of 5.8 yards per touch. He
also caught 19 passes for 218 yards, and averaged 22.9 yards per kickoff return.
Besides Presley, nobody touches the ball more for Appalachian State than Cadet.
He has also played in games as a wide receiver and a quarterback, and I could
see him being used in a trick play or two against Tech. The Mountaineers have
nothing to lose.

Look for JUCO First Team All-American Steven Miller to get some work as well.
Miller is an explosive player, a good fit for the Appalachian State offense, and
cousin of New Orleans Saints defensive back Malcolm Jenkins.

Appalachian State is sure to attack the wide side of the Tech defense, where
whip linebacker Jeron Gouveia-Winslow struggled with JMU’s option attack last
year. Gouveia-Winslow is a much better player right now, but you can be sure
that ASU will go his way. Also on the wide side of the field are new starting
field corner Kyle Fuller, and new starting free safety Antone Exum. It makes
sense for the Mountaineers to try and exploit that side of the field.

The Appalachian State Defense

  • Returning Starters: 7
  • Front 7 Average Weight: 263.3 (254.7 for Virginia Tech)
  • 2010 YPG: 347.69
  • 2010 Rushing YPG: 166.92
  • 2010 Passing YPG: 180.77
  • 2010 PPG: 23.62
  • Scheme: 3-4/Multiple

Nobody is exactly sure what to expect from the Appalachian State defense
this season. They were not very effective in 2010, particularly against the
run, so Jerry Moore decided to change things up. They are switching to a 3-4,
though since they’ve never used it in a game before, the Tech coaches have no
film. Bryan Stinespring, Mike O’Cain and the rest of the Tech coaches will
have to use their experience against other 3-4 defenses to prepare for the

Most likely, ASU will sometimes line up with three down linemen, and other
times with four. They will try to make it difficult for Logan Thomas to read
where the blitz is coming from, and they will try to keep David Wilson from
getting to the edge.

The Mountaineer front seven is big. Defensive end Gordy Witte, Jr. (6-6,
315, r-Sr.) has played defensive tackle in the past, but he doesn’t move
particularly well and doesn’t make any plays in the backfield. The other
defensive end is Ronald Blair (6-4, 260, Fr.). As a true freshman, nobody
really knows what to expect from Blair.

The nose tackle is Dan Wylie (6-1, 305, Sr.), who had 5.5 tackles for loss
last season and is the best playmaker on the Appalachian State defensive line.
His backup is 27-year old Chris Aiken (6-1, 315, Sr.), who spent time in the
Army before going to college. Backup defensive ends are 17-year old James
Robinson (6-5, 235, Fr.) and Anthony Wilson (6-1, 290, r-Sr.).

It seems as if Appalachian State lacks playmakers on the defensive line,
which could be a big reason why they switched to the 3-4 defense. Playing the
bandit spot, which is likely an outside linebacker/defensive end position, is
Lanston Tanyi (6-2, 250, r-Jr.). Tanyi could be the best playmaker on the
defensive side of the ball for ASU, but he has had two severe injuries (knee
and foot surgery) since December of 2009. During the 2009 season, he was a
Second Team All-Southern Conference defensive end with 7.5 sacks.

Middle linebacker Jeremy Kimbrough (5-11, 238, Jr.), weakside backer
Brandon Grier (6-2, 230, Jr.) and strongside backer John Rizor (6-2, 245,
r-Jr.) round out the linebacker spots. Grier and Rizor have shown the ability
to make plays in the backfield in the past, so either one is potentially
capable of playing with his hand on the ground as part of Jerry Moore’s new

Statistically the secondary was Appalachian State’s greatest strength on
defense last season, but the Hokies have a big matchup advantage with their
wide receivers. Starting free safety Patrick Blalock (6-0, 200, So.) is a
walk-on true sophomore who will likely struggle with downfield coverage, while
Troy Sanders (6-0, 205, Jr.) moves to strong safety from cornerback, where he
will replace Fifth Round NFL Draft selection Mark LeGree, who now plays for
the Seahawks.

The cornerbacks are Ed Gainey (5-11, 195, Sr.), who is a Second Team
All-Southern Conference Selection, and Demetrius McCray (6-0, 185, Jr.), who
started three games last season.

I believe the Hokies will try to take advantage of Appalachian State’s lack
of speed on defense by getting David Wilson to the edge early and often. I
also think the have a big advantage with their downfield passing game. It will
be important for the Mountaineers to disguise their coverages so that new
starting quarterback Logan Thomas won’t be able to take advantage of that

Special Teams

Sam Martin (6-1, 205, r-Jr.) will kick and punt for Appalachian State. As a
punter last season, he averaged 39.2 yards per punt. Only nine of his 60 punts
were returned, as 51.7% were fair caught, and another 31.7% were downed inside
the 20. For his career, only 17 of his 112 punts have been returned.

Martin will be a busy man, as he’ll take over field goal kicking duties
this season as well. He has not attempted a field goal or PAT since high

Starting tailback Travaris Cadet will return kicks and punts, with true
freshman Bobo Beathard listed second on the depth chart. Cadet is capable, but
Virginia Tech certainly should have an athletic advantage on their coverage

Final Thoughts

Appalachian State is a good team. I believe they would be bowl eligible in
certain Division I-A conferences. They would win the Sun Belt, and maybe the
MAC as well. DeAndre Presley is the perfect quarterback for the offense they
like to run, and they haven’t missed a beat on that side of the ball despite
losing Armanti Edwards to the NFL.

Their defense is another story. Their defense was below average last
season, despite the presence of safety Mark LeGree (5th round to the Seahawks)
and linebacker D.J. Smith (6th round to the Packers). This year they are
playing with a completely different scheme, and they seem to lack quality
playmakers up front. The coaching staff is trying to create more playmaking
opportunities for their defense, and a big key for this game will be Logan
Thomas identifying where the blitz is coming from, because I expect The
Mountaineers will show one thing and do another for most of the day.

Or, it won’t come down to Logan Thomas at all. I think the Hokies will
unleash David Wilson on the edge, both in the running game and the passing
game. Most 1-A defenses will struggle to defend David Wilson this season, and
unless the Hokies don’t play well, an average 1-AA defense is going to give
big numbers against #4.

I’m a big fan of DeAndre Presley, as well as Brandon Quick and the entire
Appalachian State offense. Virginia Tech has a very young defense, and I’m
certainly not expecting a perfect performance. I think the Hokies will play
well, but the Mountaineers will bust a few plays here and there, probably when
the backup defensive line is in the game.

I think Appalachian State will show up and compete hard, and they’ll score
a couple of touchdowns. However, I don’t think their defense has what it takes
to even come close to slowing down David Wilson.

Chris’s Prediction: Virginia Tech 41, Appalachian State 14

Will Stewart’s Take: I like this. Appalachian State knows how to win,
and they’ve got some guys that can play. This should be a good ballgame.

We get to find out right out of the gate if the Virginia Tech defense is
improved, because App State has players who, as Chris pointed out, can
challenge the perimeter of the Tech defense. If I were Appalachian State’s
coaches, I would try to match the senior-laden side of my offensive line (C-RG-RT)
against Tech’s youthful wide-side defense. Get those senior blockers out there
against VT’s young defenders, and attack the Hokies with my dynamic
quarterback, running back, and future NFL receiver.

It wouldn’t surprise me to see App State have some success early, before
the Hokie D figures out what’s going on and settles in. (Either that, or
they’ll encounter James Gayle out there, and he’ll blow the whole thing up.)

Offensively, I expect Virginia Tech to be conservative, until they can get
a few series under their belt and learn a little bit about Appalachian State’s
defense. “Conservative” means a healthy dose of David Wilson, and
that’s actually my prescription for the entire month of September, not just
this game.

Typically, “conservative” means boring, picking up yards 3-7 at a
time. But Wilson has the explosiveness to turn a boring running game into a
big-top circus event. If this game stays relatively tight, like within 1-2
scores into the third and fourth quarters — and I think it might — I think
the Hokie offense will open up as the game goes on. Till then, I think it will
be a lot of David Wilson, and that’s not a bad thing.

Actually, it’s kinda hard to tell what’s going to happen, especially when
you’re not a particularly gifted football observer, like yours truly. Let’s
just get to the prediction. I think this one is going to be competitive for
the first two and a half quarters, maybe even three, but in the end, VT wins
relatively comfortably. I’m going conservative with the prediction, out of
respect for the Appalachian State program, and until we learn more about these

Will’s Prediction: Virginia Tech 31, Appalachian State 16