Hey all Steve Kleintank (AKA SKWDCOP) here with one of the main writers from the Appalachian State Blog – Yosef’s Cabin and the Mountaineer Message Board,
Thomas Sherrill (AKA tdog). He has been kind enough to sojourn out of the Mountains in Boone, NC, and provide us some of his thoughts concerning the upcoming David and Goliath rematch.
So, what were your thoughts when you heard about the rematch?
Tom: It’s a win for App State. For a school that isn’t in the national spotlight every week, a three-hour infomercial on ESPN is great exposure, even in a loss because that blocked kick will be replayed over and over. I have no idea why Michigan schedules the game though.
Steve: No argument here. I am dreading that week-long media storm; it will be like getting Rick-Rolled on a continual loop. As to why the Wolverines scheduled this game, a lot of our fans and apparently the school also, are self-loathing and self-punishing (when not doing well); maybe they see redemption in self-shaming?
How do you see the Mountaineers attacking Michigan, and do you expect to see any new wrinkles in the offense that we didn’t see from App State last year?
Tom: More passing. There’s a talented group of freshman receivers with a QB who set the school record for completion percentage last year. I also can see more misdirection on designed runs and in general, an offense very similar to other wide open Sun Belt teams.
Steve: Well I was hoping for more cowbell, but I guess passing is going to have to be the way with your top running threat sidelined.
Are there any personnel match-ups when the Mountaineers are on offense/defense that particularly excite or frighten you?
Tom: Despite having the most experienced OL in FBS by number of starts, it’s a worry. The OL was a major weak spot in recent years due to bad coaching, weak S&C programs and lack of recruiting. Last time the App State OL coach was Shawn Elliot, now current South Carolina OC, who was a wizard at coaching footwork and blocking schemes.
Steve: Well don’t feel so all alone. After last year and a couple of public scrimmages by the Michigan squad this year, maybe the game could be settled a mean game of Red-Rover Red –Rover, as linking arms may be our only hope at running the ball, something has to give because the fan base wanted our OL Coach gone with the OC and that did not happen – maybe a decision Hoke ponders while perusing the wanted adds next year barring success.
Tom: In terms of favorable match-ups, I think the defense can get some pressure. Last time stunted blitzes worked very well and I think after years of not having the DL to effectively rush, the front seven in the 3-4 will be more ready and there won’t be film on what’s being practiced.
Steve: Many guys on this squad have played the 3-4, so that will not be foreign. The DC here at least in public viewings has been full-on onslaught with blitzes, stunts, slants, twists, corner blitzes, and much more – hopefully that prepares this young line.
What are your thoughts about the Michigan squad? In your opinion, what are the biggest issues and largest positives you see in our squad?
Tom: It’s a squad that is constantly on their heels. I think the biggest thing is that the swagger of old is gone. Rich Rod helped do that but I think Brady Hoke, while a decent coach, isn’t a Michigan caliber coach. They need to push people around and grind teams down. I also think Devin Gardner’s confidence is gone and that screws with the rest of the team. They have talent; it’s just a case of confidence and sticking with the program.
Steve: Like Arnold Swaggenator “We’ll Be Back!” Well Hoke, less season one has not shown he is, but even with lackluster finishes the last two (still winners just not by old and should-be standards) he and the staff are killing it on the recruiting field – you’ll see this guy Peppers and know what I mean.
Are there certain sets of plays or an overall scheme that you think help mitigate the lack of FBS level trench size?
Tom: There has to be gadget plays. Satterfield tried a few early last year in the game at UGA so he’s willing to try. While a FBS team in name, App only has 80 scholarship players and a lot of them are freshman, red shirt or true. Quick slants, misdirection and option rushes that don’t rely on too much blocking are essential.
Steve: May I suggest the Lonesome Polecat Play!
What are your memories of the 2007 victory?
Tom: I was in Boone as I couldn’t afford the trip. I was in a local nightclub watching. After the block I ran into the street in joy, went to the stadium, tore down the goalposts, and jumped in the duck pond. Gameday was at VT, three hours away, so they sent camera crews. Two hours after the win, there were cameras everywhere. It turned into a giant party that weekend. The media zoo continued for a week-plus. It all seems like a blur, that it’s something I imagined. I don’t know how I concentrated in class during that time period.
Steve: It seems like a blur to me also, mine caused by some guy with the last name Cuervo or Corrona, I can’t remember which. Another reason to hate ESPN!
App returns the most experienced O-line in the nation. Will that experience translate into serious offensive production and how is the D looking?
Tom: It’s a deceptive stat. All that experience is at the FCS level. If it was last year with last year’s S&C, it would be very bad. This year the line looks much better, but it’s not a juggernaut the stat makes it out to be. Depth and how the backups, who are mostly underclassmen, is just as important.
Steve: Non-sense we won’t be fooled again! But kidding aside I think this group better be good for you because they are almost lacrosse size in the second string.
Tom: Defense has been interesting during fall camp. They win most of the practices, but that’s common. Youth was served last year, hence some of the struggles. They have a chip on their shoulder, even in practice. They need to tone it down in games. They’ll bend, but they have the chance for big plays and turnovers.
Steve: If they have chips on their shoulders they won’t for long, I get the feeling that 345 pounder you have at NT likes food – especially chips!!! Will be interesting to see if he demands a constant double team.
How does the Mountaineer team of 2014 compare with the three-time FCS National Champions team?
Tom: Apples and oranges. The title teams had less raw talent, but had that drive and determination. The title teams were blessed by very few injuries, an OL that was together the entire time, an undersized but scrappy RB and great QB play with Richie Williams and Armanti Edwards. The 2014 team is coming off a 4-8 year that was 4-5 plays away from 8-4, but will face a FBS schedule. It’s the biggest unknown season in the last 25 years.
Steve: Well hopefully we can welcome you to the FBS, like you greeted us in 2007. Edwards was solely responsible for me burning all my Giorgio Armani as the name was too close.
Who should team Michigan fans watch for as playmakers on the App State offense and defense?
Tom: I’m going to go more in the direction of unknowns and say RB Terrence Upshaw. He was redshirted last year and coaches are very high on him. Obviously if App is going to do well in this game, Kam Bryant has to be on point.
Steve: Yeah his 70% completion rate scares me, but he may find that harder against our press scheme this year.
Tom: On defense, NT Tyson Fernandez has to command a double-team for the 3-4 to be effective. He’s the linchpin of the entire defense and whether they can blitz and disguise coverage.
Steve: They can pretty much hide behind him until the ball is snapped, hard to believe he just started playing defense recently.
How do you feel about the release of Coach Moore, and the hiring of his OC as the new HC?
Tom: It was time. While his last two teams finished 8-4 and went to the playoffs, they were each 4 plays away from being 4-8. Then you got the legal problems of players that Moore recruited despite red flags in high school. Plus the manner of which he tried to take the program hostage and how he turned into the “poor old football coach” routine afterward, it was time. He could have taken the higher-paying gig of university ambassador after the 2011 season, but he didn’t. He could have owned up to the deal of coaching one more season, but he “forgot” and thought winning the conference title (a share of it with two other teams) meant he got one more year. He did great things for the school, but good on (now former AD) Charlie Cobb for putting his foot down.
As for Satterfield, he was the choice all along. Satterfield had just come back to App in 2012 as the OC and Associate Head Coach after doing stints at Toledo and FIU. He wasn’t guaranteed the head coach job nor did he know it was Moore’s final year (Moore chose to keep it secret and then used that secret in his defense, another strike against him), but it put Satt on the inside track.
2013 was a rough first season. 4-8 was a shock. The living on the edge 8-4 teams of the last two years finally flipped the other way and didn’t make those 4 plays. The dismissal of star WR Sean Price also hurt. Add on the transitional year of not being eligible for a conference or national title, plus redshirting over 25 players due to the transition and the under-performance of a not 100% QB Jamal Jackson made a recipe for disaster.
Steve: Well you sound happy with the coaching choice and I wish your team luck (less the opener). However, I still pick the winning horse (HOF Selected) over an unknown – Michigan made the same mistake (maybe twice).
What is your outlook on the Mountaineers first year as a FBS team?
Tom: 6-6 would be a success. The schedule is conducive to that happening with Idaho, Georgia State, Campbell and Liberty at home plus road games with Southern Miss & Georgia Southern. There’s talent to make good this year. The staff is really looking forward to 2015 as they feel like that’s the year to compete for the Sun Belt Championship, but 2014 has to be a year for growth and competing.
Steve: Yeah, 500 would probably be solid as most teams entering the FBS get crushed early on – size does make a difference (except for weird upset occasions).
The Mountaineers can win if?
Tom: Have to finish drives. Many drives last year looked good between the 20’s but weren’t finished. Offensive Line has to create holes to set up a ground game. The front three on defense have to cause problems so the linebackers and corners can have more freedom to make plays.
Steve: I would add, they better hope they have some sort of trench relief as Michigan will probably be rolling in and out a lot along the lines – especially on defense.
The Mountaineers will lose if?
Tom: Any of the above doesn’t happen.
Steve: If the football Gods get this right was my choice!
Care to put forth a prediction for the game?
Tom: 38-21 Michigan.
Steve: An excellent answer Tom!! I kid, I expect the win also but if they do not make the spread or better, to many this will still be a Michigan loss.
THIS WILL NOT HAPPEN AGAIN (*He’s been fired, and we better win!)
Thanks to T-D-Double O.G. for taking the time to provide us with his opinions. I would also like to thank all the staff, and board members of Yosef’s Cabin for the warm welcome, tasteful jabs, and excellent conversation about the 2014 game.
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Written by GBMWolverine Staff — SkwdCop
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