If Appalachian State is to start to turn its season around Saturday, it will have to find a way to stop Samford team averaing more than 50 points Southern Conference game.
For the Mountaineers (1-4), it’s at least an opportunity for a turning point.
“I think our guys are still hungry,” said Scott Satterfield, the Mountaineers’ first-year coach. “They’re still working hard and playing hard, you can’t deny that. We’ve got to continue to play hard. I think we’re getting better every week, and hopefully it’s going to translate into some wins.”
The Mountaineers have lost three games each by three points and slid to their worst record in 20 years after an overtime loss last week to The Citadel.
“Our guys are obviously distraught a little bit with where we are – that was a big game for us this past weekend to lose in overtime,” Satterfield said. “We’re getting there toward the end (of games) and have a chance to win them, but we haven’t made enough plays to win them at the end.”
No. 23 Samford (4-2, 2-0 SoCon) toppled preseason favorite Georgia Southern 44-34 last week and scored 62 points two weeks ago in its league opener against Western Carolina.
“I talk to our team all the time about big plays, that four or five plays in a game (are) going to determine the outcome,” said coach Pat Sullivan, a former Heisman Trophy winner at Auburn. “Just like this past Saturday, we made some big plays. You go back to our game with App State last year, and they scored on virtually the last play of the game and beat us with a big play.
“Quite frankly it shouldn’t have happened. But they made it. We didn’t defend it. Those are the things.”
The Bulldogs feature a host of big-play playmakers.
Andy Summerlin, a 25-year-old, sixth-year senior and former Memphis quarterback, passed for a school-record 495 yards against Georgia Southern. His top target is senior Kelsey Pope (25 receptions, 441 yards), and the team’s leading rusher, senior Fabian Truss, has two kickoff returns for touchdowns.
On defense, senior linebacker Justin Shade leads the SoCon with four sacks. Junior free safety Jaquiski Tartt heads a secondary that leads the league with seven interceptions.
“I think they’re super talented with the skill players they have,” Satterfield said.
Samford, however, hasn’t defeated Appalachian since joining the SoCon in 2008 and has never finished higher than a tie for fourth in the standings. But the Bulldogs could be the team to beat this season.
“It’s been a growing process for us,” Sullivan said. “We’ve been building and getting better and better every year. We’ve grown, we’ve built, and (our players) are starting to play with some confidence. There’s that old saying of learning how to win. They’re doing that.”
Sullivan said his team isn’t putting much stock in the Mountaineers’ 1-4 record or the fact that the Mountaineers have lost their past three home games.
“We’ve got our hands full,” Sullivan said. “To me, it’s a typical App State team. They’re one or two plays away from being 4-1 and being ranked right up there in the top 10 in the country.”
The Winston-Salem Journal is a news partner of the Observer. For more Appalachian State coverage go to http://www.journalnow.com/sports/asu/
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