Coach: Scott Satterfield (11-13, entering third season; 11-13 overall)
2014 record: 7-5 overall, 6-2 Sun Belt; third in Sun Belt
Look back: Appalachian State closed the 2014 season on a six-game win streak, helping the team post a 7-5 record during its first season competing at the Football Bowl Subdivision level.
While the late surge of wins were promising, the team stumbled against its toughest opponents early in the year. A less-than-perfect Michigan team earned a 52-14 win over Appalachian State to open the season and Georgia Southern, another team in its first FBS season, collected a 34-14 win over the Mountaineers.
Despite some early setbacks, Appalachian State was long thought to be capable of moving to the FBS level. The Mountaineers collected three Football Championship Subdivision national titles in 2005, 2006 and 2007 and earned national attention by upsetting Michigan in 2007.
Offensive starters returning: 10
Offensive starters lost: 1
Defensive starters returning: 10
Defensive starters lost: 1
Key losses: OL Kendall Lamm, TE Drew Bailey, DB Joel Ross
Top returnees: RB Marcus Cox, QB Taylor Lamb, WR Malachi Jones, TE Barrett Burns, C Jesse Chapman, DE Ronald Blair, DB Doug Middleton, LB John Law, LB Kennan Gilchrist, LB Eric Boggs, DB Latrell Gibbs
Strengths: Appalachian State lost just one starter on offense and one on defense from last season, making the Mountaineers the most experienced team in the nation, according to college football analyst Phil Steele. The experienced is obviously invaluable and gives the Mountaineers an edge entering the upcoming season.
Marcus Cox and Taylor Lamb are slated to help lead the Appalachian State offense. Cox rushed for 1,415 yards and 19 touchdowns on 255 carries last season. Lamb, the Sun Belt freshman of the year, was 181-of-295 passing for 2,381 yards, 17 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He also rushed for 483 yards and four touchdowns.
The duo helped Appalachian State rank No. 18 nationally in rushing yards (241.8 yards per game) and No. 26 in scoring (35.7 points per game).
Linebacker John Law is the team’s top returning tackler (91) while defensive back Doug Middleton earned first team All-Sun Belt honors after recording four interceptions and six pass breakups.
Weaknesses: While Lamb had a strong freshman season, Appalachian State needs him to continue to develop as a team leader and playmaker. The Mountaineers ranked No. 74 nationally in passing (219.8 yards per game) and had trouble selling the pass to set up the run during games early in the season.
The defense returns 10 starters, but Appalachian State also has room to improve. The team ranked No. 72 in scoring defense (27.3 points allowed per game).
Outlook: With an experienced lineup and manageable schedule, Appalachian State should earn a bowl bid during its first year of NCAA eligibility and be among the contenders for a Sun Belt title.
Sept. 5 Howard
Sept. 12 at Clemson
Sept. 26 at Old Dominion
Oct. 3 Wyoming
Oct. 10 at Georgia State
Oct. 17 at UL-Monroe
Oct. 22 Georgia Southern
Oct. 31 Troy
Nov. 5 Arkansas State
Nov. 14 at Idaho
Nov. 28 UL-Lafayette
Dec. 5 at South Alabama
College Football / College Basketball Handicapper. 2011 won 74%, 2012 won 72% 2015 SPECIAL. CALL, 877.WIN.ATS9 EMAIL,V@VincentRizzoSports.com