Marcus Cox was Appalachian State’s running game last season.
He averaged 104 yards a game. No other player on the team averaged more than 18.
Cox was an indisputable workhorse, and the Mountaineers were thankful for it. But a priority heading into this season is to get Cox some help.
“If you look back to last year, Marcus was our running game, basically,” coach Scott Satterfield said. “He’s basically the only one that carried the ball.”
While Cox was brilliant – setting a school record for a freshman with 1,250 rushing yards – another freshman with potential to put up big numbers spent a redshirt season on the scout team. Satterfield said that Terrence Upshaw could have played, but things turned out well enough.
Now the unheralded Upshaw will get his chance to complement Cox and, if nothing else, to provide the help wanted.
“We need to have a good 1-2 punch and I think Upshaw will enable us to do that,” Satterfield said.
Upshaw, like Cox, is a big back – both are 5-foot-10, 200 pounds – and coaches describe both as “very explosive.”
And, like Cox – who caught 43 passes for 559 yards – Upshaw is a capable receiver.
“During spring practices we got a good taste of what Upshaw could do,” said Dwayne Ledford, the Mountaineers’ co-offensive coordinator. “And we saw it all last year when he was on the scout team. We feel like we’ve got backs now where we can have a 1-2 punch.”
Cox, who scored 21 touchdowns, set the bar high last season. Now he’s a sophomore coming off a banner freshman year.
“I’m grateful for the season I had last year, and there are a lot of high expectations because of it,” said Cox, who added about 15 pounds in the offseason to help endure the physical grind of the Mountaineers’ first season in the Sun Belt Conference and Football Bowl Subdivision.
“But I really can’t put that pressure on myself, or think about it that much. I just need to go out and play like I know how to play and that will take care of itself.”
Ledford said: “It was a heck of a season for Marcus. I mean he was phenomenal, to come in as a true freshman and rush for 1,250 yards and account for as many touchdowns as had … that was impressive.”
While Cox remains the indisputable starter in any potential two-man punch, Satterfield is hoping the overall running game will be bolstered by production from yet another source.
“I also think we’ve got to get some more production out of the quarterback position as far as rushing yards,” Satterfield said. “Kam (Bryant) was dinged pretty much the whole year, but he’s healthy now and has gotten himself in great shape and hopefully he can help us run the football, too.
“We know that’s going to be a huge part of the offense, trying to establish the run.”
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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