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2014 APPALACHIAN STATE FOOTBALL | SUN BELT CONERENCE

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Appalachian St. football coach takes positives into first Sun Belt season

By Tommy Bowman
Winston-Salem Journal
Appalachian State Georgia Football
David Goldman - AP File Photo
Appalachian State head coach Scott Satterfield watches from the sidelines during the 2013 game against Georgia in Athens, Ga. Georgia won 45-6.

WINSTON-SALEM Appalachian State will begin football camp Friday. It’s a fresh start that perhaps no one welcomes more than coach Scott Satterfield.

His first season in charge went nothing like he had hoped or expected, but some obstacles were built in.

The Mountaineers were ineligible for the Southern Conference championship and Football Championship Subdivision playoffs because of their transition to the Sun Belt Conference and Football Bowl Division. They also were relatively young, especially on defense in their first season using a 3-4 alignment. Appalachian State also had a quarterback who wasn’t at full speed to start the season.

Seven games in, the Mountaineers were 1-6.

“Obviously I’ll never forget that first year as head coach, and having to go through all the stuff we went through,” Satterfield said.

“The two home losses, to N.C. A&T and Charleston Southern, obviously were low points, but probably the lowest point was going to Furman. I thought we would play well that game, and the very first snap we put the ball on the ground. We ended up fumbling eight times that day; we threw a (interception for a touchdown). That was a low point. We went into the locker room that day about as low as you can go.

“I also think that was the point these guys decided to really start playing. The next week, Georgia Southern came in, and we played the best game we had played all year. That was App State football.”

Looking back, it wouldn’t have taken much for a 4-8 season to have been 8-4.

Losses to N.C. A&T, Charleston Southern and The Citadel were by three points each, and the Mountaineers failed to hold a fourth-quarter lead during a seven-point loss to Chattanooga.

But fine lines count. It was the Mountaineers’ first losing season since 1993 – that was Satterfield’s first season as Appalachian State’s starting quarterback.

The 2014 season will bring new challenges.

The Mountaineers will face stronger competition in their first season in the Sun Belt. And their opening game will be at Michigan.

Satterfield said his team has focused not on how poorly last season began but on how much better it ended.

“The encouraging thing for me is that our guys did not fold the tent,” Satterfield said. “They kept working, they kept with the process, and we ended up on a strong note winning three of our last four FCS games and playing well.

“That’s what we’ll take from last year. That’s what we took into the offseason. We’ve had a great summer, we have a great strength staff, and I can’t say enough about them. You take all that, and you build on it.”

Through it all, Satterfield said, “you tell the kids that when you face adversity, that’s how you grow and get better. Is it easy to do? No. But it’s true.”

Satterfield said he also draws from the ’93 season. The Mountaineers were 4-7 but won their final three games and went on to fine seasons in his final two years as quarterback.

“Finishing strong, that’s what it’s about,” he said. “You continue to believe in the process. It’s worked for us here.

“We feel we had a great recruiting class,. We had the highest GPA this past spring we’ve ever had, a 2.9 cumulative for our team. We’ve had more community-service effort. So we’re doing the right things off the field. Now we’ve just got to take that and go get some Ws on the field.”

The Winston-Salem Journal is a news partner of the Observer. For more Appalachian State coverage go to www.journalnow.com/sports/asu/
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