Terrence Upshaw seemed unfazed making his debut Saturday in front of more than 100,000 fans at one of college football’s most storied venues and a national television audience.
“Being my first start, at Michigan, I tried to remain as focused and relaxed as possible,” he said.
Upshaw became the first Appalachian State player in 40 years to rush for 100 yards in a debut. He had 109 yards on 18 carries in a 52-14 loss.
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“He was ready to go,” Mountaineers coach Scott Satterfield said . “He’s a pretty confident player. He’s been here for a year now, has worked hard and was eager to play.”
Upshaw, a redshirt freshman, got his first start after being considered about even with returning star Marcus Cox, who had missed nearly two weeks of preseason practice recovering from a minor knee-repair procedure.
“He’s got to get better when he doesn’t have the ball, as far as protections and that type of thing, but when he had the ball in his hands he did a good job,” Satterfield said. “He averaged over 6 yards a carry against a defense with nine starters back. I thought that was pretty solid on his part.”
Upshaw, who scored 31 touchdowns as a senior for Northview High in Duluth, Ga., was redshirted last season, but his potential was noted and then demonstrated with his impressive spring and preseason.
“He’ll continue to get better and better the more he plays,” Satterfield said. “He’s one of those type of backs that gets stronger as the game goes on.
“He’s a very powerful back. He’s probably 5-9 or 5-10 and close to 205 pounds, so he’s put together really well – very strong in the lower body, and that’s a hard tackle for guys to have to bring him down. I think he’s quick, quicker than Marcus, but doesn’t have quite the top-end (speed) … that Marcus does, but he’s powerful and quick in that 10-yard burst. As a running back, that’s very, very beneficial.”
Satterfield said, like Cox, Upshaw also can be effective as a receiver.
With two standout running backs, Satterfield said he’ll try to give both as much playing time as possible.
“Marcus is fully healthy,” Satterfield said. “We limited him Saturday just because we didn’t know how he’d react with it, because he hadn’t gone full as far as getting tackled in a couple of weeks. He came out fine, and now we feel like we’ve got a great 1-2 punch with those guys. Obviously we have to play both and find ways to get them the football, because they’re two of our better weapons on offense.”
Upshaw, who ran for 27 yards on his second carry against Michigan and was solid from there, said his team will bounce back from Saturday’s loss.
“We can’t let this get to us,” he said. “We have a lot of football left to play.”