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Previewing the 2019 Appalachian State Season Part 2: Ring Quest 2019

We embark on weeks 4-6 as Sun Belt Ring Quest 2019 takes off.

NCAA Football: New Orleans Bowl-Middle Tennessee at Appalachian State Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Week 1-3 Recap

Week 1- App 54 - ETSU 10

Week2- App 38 - UNCC 14

Week 3- App 38 - UNC 35

Record: 3-0

Week 4: vs Coastal Carolina (2018: 5-7)

NCAA Football: Coastal Carolina at South Carolina Brian Westerholt-USA TODAY Sports

The quest for another Sun Belt championship kicks off with a regional matchup with Coastal Carolina. Head coach Jamey Chadwell takes the reigns officially from Joe Moglia and we will see how things go with any distractions set aside. The same question has plagued Coastal Carolina since the move to FBS: “Who is QB1?” Will this be the year something is finally decided? That remains to be seen. Bryce Carpenter should get the leg up on Fred Payton as other options like Chance Thrasher or Kilton Anderson have either transferred or graduated.

The defense still has a lot of questions to answer as last season’s unit was one of the worst in the Sun Belt. A once-really-young linebacking core will be back to help elevate the experience level. Junior Chandler Kryst and sophomore Derick Bush look to be the top two corners to lead the secondary that is starting from scratch.

Appalachian State beat Coastal 23-7 last season in Conway with Jacob Huesman at the helm for an injured Zac Thomas. Coastal really struggled against the run last season and things look to remain the same heading into the season with a thin group upfront. Look for Darrynton Evans to have a big game and show why he is a top level RB in the Sun Belt. However, Coastal usually plays App tough. I think that will be the case again. I don’t expect a breeze-by-win like many may think.

App 35 - CCU 17 (4-0, 1-0 Sun Belt)

Week 5: @ Louisiana (2018: 7-7)

NCAA Football: Cure Bowl-Tulane vs UL Lafayette Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Appalachian State will make their way to Cajun country on a odd Wednesday night for a rematch of last season’s Sun Belt Championship game. In two meetings last year, App State defeated UL 27-17 in the regular season and 30-19 in the Sun Belt title game. This could easily be an early preview of a title game rematch.

Levi Lewis returns to lead an offense that was 7-0 when scoring at least 31 points a game last season. Thirty-one seems to be the magic number for the Cajuns as anytime they were below that mark they were 0-7. The double punch rushing combo of Trey Ragas and Elijah Mitchell is by far the heavy hitter on offense as any one of these guys can break a big play at any moment especially with an o-line that returns all 5 starters from last year.

Defensively, the Cajuns struggled at times last season and if it wasn’t for the offense, UL wouldn't have won some of the games they did. Against the run, UL must get better as they gave up over 200 rushing yards in each game last year. That number must come down if UL wants to take the next step.

App State has struggled on the road at about midway through the season the past couple years. This game could be that slip up if the Mountaineers are not prepared. Give me App in a squeaker.

App 28 - UL 24 (Record: 5-0, 2-0 Sun Belt)

Week 6: vs ULM (2018: 6-6)

NCAA Football: UL Monroe at Mississippi Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

ULM is a curious case to say the least. Last season, the Warhawks averaged over 400 passing yards per game, but only managed to score 27 points per game. QB Caleb Evans returns to lead that high octane passing attack but 3 of the top 4 receivers from last year are gone and coach Matt Viator must work in a young group at wide out with RJ Turner and Zachari Jackson most of what stands out. Evans led the team in rushing touchdowns. They must work on more consistency in the running game from the running backs.

Defense was a roller coaster last year, too. You never knew from one game to the next if the unit would allow 20 points or 50 points. The secondary was a mess as the unit was one of the worst in the country in efficiency, only grabbing 5 picks all season long. Losing David Griffith will hurt in the linebacking core but all the depth returns so the unit should be able to hold themselves together. ULM puts out a good pass rushing front around DE Kerry Starks and Jaylen Veasley on the inside.

App State has dropped the ball against the Warhawks before ( i.e. 2017), but this team has a tough schedule before they play App. With games against FSU, Iowa St, South Alabama and Memphis before this game, a lot of Warhawk confidence could be out the window. Look for the passing D to continue to struggle and Zac Thomas, Corey Sutton and Thomas Hennigan to have big days on Homecoming 2019 at “The Rock”.

App 41 - ULM 17 (Record: 6-0, 3-0 Sun Belt)

Next week, the mid-season stretch takes place with a pivotal Sun Belt East Division and redemption game taking place along with with another big trip to a power five school this time from the SEC.