The 2014 App State season has about gone how you expected before the season. They've beaten the bad teams, lost to the good teams, and are in the middle of the pack in the Sun Belt (admittedly on the lower end of that middle). But the Mountaineers have a great chance to separate themselves this weekend against ULM.
The Warhawks are struggling. It's been more than a month since their last win, and they haven't scored more than 18 points in just as long. After almost pulling the upset over A&M last week, can they get back on the right track in Sun Belt play?
True freshman QB Taylor Lamb split time with junior Kameron Bryant to open the season, but after two games he became the full-time starter. He's had his ups-and-downs, but in the last four games he's gone 53-for-90 for 749 yards, with six touchdowns and just two interceptions. He's also added 34 rushes for 223 yards and two scores. He's been fun to watch, even in losses. When he is paired with Marcus Cox (819 yards, 6.2 ypc, 12 TD) in the backfield behind a two tight end set it's a pretty terrifying sight for opposing defenses.
But the Warhawks defense has the athletes to contain the looks Mountaineers head coach Scott Satterfield is likely to give them. The back end is still a bit suspect, especially with some guys getting banged up last week, but if they want to win this game they will have to stop the run. RS junior "hawk" Mitch Lane should fill up the stat sheet defensively, as he will be in position to make stops. If he's missing tackles, the Mountaineers will run away with this one.
On the other side of the ball, this might finally be a chance for the Warhawks to put up some points. App State is still figuring things out on the defensive end. They run a sort of unusual scheme (similar to ULM's 3-3-5 stack) that has been susceptible to giving up some big runs. Warhawks fans have been seeing more and more of Tyler Cain the last few weeks, and Saturday shouldn't change.
ULM head coach Todd Berry still has plenty of confidence in Pete Thomas' ability to lead this offense, so expect another 30+ passes from him.
I was a bit surprised when I saw the line for this game. The Mountaineers have played better of late, but between the eye test and what the numbers say, ULM seems like the better team. I don't think it's a particularly great matchup for the Warhawks, but they have more talent than a team that is still in FBS provisional status having just made the jump from the FCS ranks this year. I like the Warhawks to end their four-game losing streak. Warhawks 23-App State 20