The offense was impressive, scoring on 10 of 15 drives, including running out the clock at the end of the game, but the defense was outstanding. Granted, Campell (a non-scholarship school) aren't exactly a powerhouse, but the Mountaineers allowed a mere 95 yards and 6 first downs (2 by penalty). Campbell had just two plays in excess of 10 yards, and neither of them were passes. Do you see where I'm going with this? On with the grades.
Quarterbacks: Kameron Bryant started the game, and played better than he did against Michigan, but he wasn't outstanding. He completed 10 of 17 passes for 149 yards and 2 TDs, with 1 interception, and he converted some key third downs early on to keep Mountaineer drives alive. Bryant got better as the game went on, after throwing incomplete on his first 4 attempts. Taylor Lamb also saw action, mostly in the second half, completing 5 of 10 passes for 94 yards and a 39-yard TD pass, also had a 56-yard ramble late in the game. Third-stringer Logan Hallock, got a drive in, but it was short lived, as he completed just 1 of 2 passes for 2 yards and was sacked once.
Running Backs: Marcus Cox, still feeling his was back from a knee injury, had a solid game, rushing for 114 yards and 2 scores on 20 carries. His best play of the day was a 36-yard effort on third-and-nine to keep a drive alive. Last week's Terrence Upshaw, only had 4 carries, but he made the most of them with 41 yards and a TD. Instead they gave their other backs a workout, with Ricky Fergerson running for 48 yards and 2 scores on 8 carries, while Eric Davidson add 24 yards on 8 carries. Not a spectacular performance, but rock solid, constantly churning out good yards.
Receivers: Tight end Simms McElfresh continues to be the quarterback's best friend, catching 5 passes for 81 yards and 2 TDs this week,and had the longest reception of the day - 39 yards for a score. Barrett Burns caught the other touchdown pass, from 21 yards out, and finished with 2 receptions for 43 yards. Isaiah Lewis was second on the team with 3 receptions, but managed 13 yards. On the day, nine different receivers caught passes, with 6 receptions of 20 or more yards. A decent enough showing, but in addition to McElfresh, we still need to see another go-to guy step forward.
Offensive Line: The line played it's second game together as a unit, and did a good job blocking for the run again, helping pave the way for 293 yards and five TDs on the ground. However, there is some concern in pass blocking. While they only gave up one sack, to third-stringer Hallock, they did allow the Fighting Camels to get some pressure, with four accredited hurries. They have the week off to tinker a little and sort out the protection, but after that the schedule gets tough in a hurry.
Defensive Line: It's hard to criticize the defense after such a dominant effort, and they were almost perfect. The defensive line didn't make a ton of plays, but they made it easier for everyone else to. Nose tackle Tyson Fernandez led the unit with 3 tackles, including combining for 1 in the backfield, while Ronald Blair h ad a sack. Olawale Dada only had 1 tackle after a solid game against the Wolverines, but he got pressure on the Campbell passers with 2 accredited hurries. With the game always well under control, the Mountaineers got some good reps for their reserves too.
Linebackers: The unit played a big role in holding the Camels to just 56 yards rushing, led by outside linebacker Rashad Townes with 7 tackles, 2 for loss. John Law had five tackles from the inside, while freshman Caleb Fuller had the team's other sack and broke up a pass. Stephen Machanic had an interception, while another freshman, Joel Ross, recovered a fumble. Like on the line, the unit had the good fortune to blood some of their less-used reserves and freshmen.
Defensive Backs: The best unit on the entire team had to be the secondary, whose efforts against the Fighting Camels made their own passing attack against Michigan look like a Hal Mumme offense. Campbell completed just 9 of 23 passes for 39 yards and 3 interceptions. The Camels managed just 1 first down through the air, and their longest pass was 8 yards. Free safety Doug Middleton was second on the team with 6 tackles, 1 for loss, and had a pick-six. Joel Ross also had an interception, as the unit put the clamps on the Campbell passing game.
Special Teams: The unit didn't have a large body of work to go on, but they were still effective. Kicker Zach Matics nailed his only field goal from 31 yards out, while punter Bentlee Crichter's two efforts went for 48 and 42 yards. One punt was downed inside the 20, while the returner whiffed on the other, setting up the Mountaineers in good field position. Bobo Beathard added a 39-yard punt return. The once concern was on kick coverage, as the unit allowed Isaiah Howard to break a 43-yard return.
The Bottom Line: This was a great win for the Mountaineers, even if it was over a non-scholarship program, and not a particularly good one at that. This game served a lot of purposes, not least of which was rebuilding some confidence for the team after last week's rough outing. Appalachian State got to play a lot of their reserves, giving them some experience in an environment where they could enjoy some success. Now, with a week off before their trip to Southern Miss, the Mountaineers can continue to iron out any wrinkles before the Sun Belt kicks off.