By Nathan Ham
Appalachian State has a chance to earn a key top-25 victory this Saturday when the Mountaineers take the field against #22 Miami Hurricanes Saturday night.
The Mountaineers looked ready for the season right from the start last week against East Carolina in Charlotte. Chase Brice completed 20-of-27 passes for 259 yards and two touchdowns to help guide App State to a 33-19 win over the Pirates. App State’s ground attack made life even more difficult on ECU with a pair of Mountaineer running backs getting over 100 yards rushing. Nate Noel led the team with 126 yards on 15 carries and Camerun Peoples had 100 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries.
Thomas Hennigan was App State’s top pass catcher with four receptions for 114 yards and a touchdown. Corey Sutton made his return to the field after over a year off recovering from a knee injury. He had four catches for 52 yards and a touchdown. Jalen Virgil added two catches for 27 yards and Christian Wells had two catches for 22 yards.
Miami will come into this contest after a 44-13 loss to #1 Alabama last Saturday. Miami never had a chance early on against the defending National Champions. The Crimson Tide built a 27-3 halftime lead and built the lead to as much as 41-3 before Miami added a couple of late touchdowns.
Despite the game one struggles, the Hurricanes are a very talented team led by quarterback D’Eriq King. The senior completed 23-of-31 passes for 178 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions against the Alabama defense. Last season, King threw for 2,686 yards, 23 touchdowns and just five interceptions while completing 64% of his passes. Several preseason picks named King as a potential Heisman Trophy finalist.
King’s favorite targets to throw to include Mike Harley, Key’Shawn Smith, Mark Pope and Dee Wiggins, who all saw plenty of playing time last season. Those four are also joined by Oklahoma transfer Charleston Rambo and junior tight end Will Mallory, who will look to continue the trend of NFL-caliber tight ends coming out of Miami.
The Miami rushing attack will be led by Cam’Ron Harris and Donald Chaney. King is also very mobile from the QB position and will use his legs plenty against the Mountaineer defense.
This is the second meeting between the two programs. Miami visited Boone in 2016 and left town with a 45-10 win. The crowd of 34,658 set a home attendance record for Kidd Brewer Stadium at the time.
This will be just the second game for the Mountaineers in the state of Florida in the last 58 years. The other previous contest was in 2010 when the Mountaineers traveled to Gainesville and were defeated by the Florida Gators, 48-10.
Kickoff from Hard Rock Stadium will be at 7 p.m. The game will be televised on ESPN U with play-by-play from Clay Matvick, analysis from Rocky Boiman and sideline reporting from Tiffany Blackmon. You can listen to the game on the radio with the call coming from Adam Witten, Noah Hannon and David Ware. You can hear the came in the High Country on 97.3 FM, 96.5 FM and 1450 AM.