Asked if he’d talk to his players about not taking Appalachian State lightly, first-year Miami coach Mark Richt offered an incredulous reaction.
It probably resembled how he reacted to learning that his third game with the Hurricanes would require a trip to Boone.
Richt wasn’t thrilled. Not with the matchup he inherited, nor with the question he fielded Sunday about overlooking the Mountaineers in advance of their noon meeting on Saturday at Kidd Brewer Stadium.
“How can you take this team lightly?” Richt responded. “How can anybody who knows football take this team lightly? We don’t even have to say that to our guys. They’ve seen the film. They watched them play against Tennessee. They know.
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“It’s really almost an insult to have to answer the question. Not being rude to you, but this is a really good football team, and everybody knows it. We’re geared up to try to do the best we can to play great that day.”
Appalachian State (1-1) opened the season with a 20-13 overtime loss at Tennessee, which trailed 13-3 at halftime and dropped from No. 9 to No. 17 in the next week’s Associated Press Top 25 poll. After a convincing victory against Virginia Tech, the Volunteers moved up to No. 15, 10 spots ahead of the Hurricanes (2-0).
The Mountaineers, for what it’s worth, dropped from three votes in the coaches poll to one after the Tennessee game but increased the total back to three following their 31-7 home win against Old Dominion on Saturday.
Richt, whose sister, Mikki, played volleyball at Appalachian from 1985-86, knows all about the Mountaineers’ tradition of football success.
They upset Michigan in 2007, near the end of a run to three straight Football Championship Subdivision national championships. They trailed 14-6 at halftime of a 45-6 loss at Georgia in 2013, when Richt was coaching the Bulldogs and Appalachian State coach Scott Satterfield was leading the Mountaineers through their final FCS season. They went 11-2 and won a bowl game last season, losing only to Clemson and Sun Belt Conference champion Arkansas State.
The outcome at Georgia in 2013, not Michigan in 2007, is more representative of how Appalachian State has fared against “Power Five” opponents. The Mountaineers led for most of the game at Tennessee, and now they get a second chance to pull a memorable upset, this time with a high-profile college football program actually coming to their campus.
“We’ve got that reputation of we’re not scared, we’ll play whoever, but that’s the way this program’s always been — we play with a chip on our shoulder,” Satterfield said. “We are not scared to play anybody; we want to compete with everybody we play against.
“At some point in time, we have to get over the hump and win some of those games. We won the ’07 (game), but it’s been a while since we’ve beaten a ‘Power Five’ like that. It’s a great challenge for us, but one that we welcome.”
The primary ESPN channel will broadcast the most highly anticipated home game in Appalachian football history, as the Kidd Brewer Stadium attendance record of 31,531 fans in a facility with a standard capacity of 23,150 is expected to be broken.
Bleachers with roughly 2,500 seats were added to the north end zone before the home opener. More field-level spots are being added between the south end zone and the lawn that curls around the closed end of the stadium. The steep corner hill above and beyond one set of gates at that end of the property will surely fit more fans, and there are spots outside the stadium with a view of the field.
Appalachian State is taking serious steps to accommodate a uniquely large crowd for Saturday’s game. There’s no room for a casual approach from either side.
“I see those guys across the board are not quite as tall, not quite as heavy as most ‘Power Five’ teams or opponents,” Richt said Monday, “but they’re just as athletic or more, they’re well-coached, they play hard as heck and they are playing with a chip on their shoulder.
“They fear nobody. To be in their place - I’m being told this is the biggest event that’s ever been in their town - we’ve got to be ready to rock and roll with these guys.”
The Winston-Salem Journal is a news partner of the Observer. For more Appalachian State coverage go to http://www.journalnow.com/sports/asu/