BOONE — It seems like football season just started, but the Mountaineers are already nearing the finish line of its regular season schedule.
This Saturday, the Mountaineers (8-2, 5-1 SBC) will host Louisiana-Lafayette (4-6, 3-3 SBC) for the annual Black Saturday contest which will also mark the final home game of the season and for the seniors.
“We’re excited about this week. It’s our last home game of the season, as far as our seniors, it’s a big day for them,” said Appalachian State head coach Scott Satterfield. “It’s going to be a fun day for our guys. We’ve got a chance to get nine wins, something that’s also big for us, and a chance for us to stay in contention for the Sun Belt Championship.”
The Mountaineers, who haven’t played since Nov. 14, used the week off to get some key players healthy, including starting running back Marcus Cox.
During Cox’s absence in App State’s win over Idaho, freshman Jalin Moore exploded onto the scene with 244 rushing yards on 27 carries. Moore had more carries in this game than the previous seven games combined.
Now that the Mountaineers seem to have a real three-headed monster at the running back spot with Moore, Cox and Terrence Upshaw, the Ragin’ Cajuns will have a tough task ahead of them to stop the Mountaineer ground attack. The Ragin’ Cajuns currently rank 86th in the country against the run, giving up nearly 185 rushing yards per game to its opponents.
UL-Lafayette is not a team to overlook, however, and Coach Satterfield and his team know that coming into the contest.
“They (UL-Lafayette) can score, they can run the football on you, if you’re not stopping that it will be a long day,” said Satterfield. “We’ve got to go in here and play our best game. We want to continue to get better, there’s still a lot of football left.”
The Mountaineers will have one more regular season game left and then a bowl game coming up as well.
For the Ragin’ Cajuns, head coach Mark Hudspeth remembers last year’s game between these two programs and is hoping for a different result this season.
“They (App State) came here last year when we were one game away from clinching the Sun Belt Conference Championship and they came in and took it to us here at home. We’re going to try and return the favor,” said Hudspeth.
The UL-Lafayette coach praised the Mountaineer defense as the best defense his team will see all year.
“Their guys do an awesome job of taking their gap responsibilities and coverage responsibilities,” said Coach Hudspeth. “Not a lot of big plays out there to find against these guys, they’ve been great against everybody this year on defense. It’s going to be a challenge.”
UL-Lafayette running back Elijah McGuire is one of the top rushers in the nation and is the reigning Sun Belt Player of the Year, winning the award as a sophomore last season. Last season, the standout tailback ran for 1,264 yards and 14 touchdowns while also grabbing 45 passes for 468 yards and two more scores. This year, McGuire, a 5-11, 208-pound running back has 929 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns and 278 receiving yards with a pair of touchdowns.
The quarterback position for the Ragin’ Cajuns has been a bit unsettled this year. Junior Brooks Haack started the first three games of the season, but struggled with no touchdown passes and three interceptions.
After that, Jalen Nixon took the helm for the next three games and tossed six touchdowns to go along with three interceptions and even had a game with 201 rushing yards. However for Nixon, accuracy was an issue, including a game against Arkansas State where he completed just 39-percent of his passes (17-of-44).
Haack took the starting job back on Nov. 7 against Georgia State and the past three games have been solid performances. Haack has completed 66-percent of his passes for 715 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions.
Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. from Kidd-Brewer Stadium. The game can be watched online on ESPN3.
- It’s official: The Mountaineers will host the University of Miami on Sept. 17, 2016. The school made the announcement on Tuesday. The Mountaineers will make the return trip to Miami in 2021.
- Mountaineer fans can now apply for tickets for the upcoming Mountaineers’ bowl game that will be sometime in December. Registration info can be found on www.AppStateSports.com .
- App State will be trying to get nine wins in a season for the first time since 2010.
Nathan Ham can be reached at 336-846-7164 or followed on Twitter @NathanHam87