2019 NCAA Division I College Football Team Previews: Appalachian State Mountaineers

Appalachian State Mountaineers
Location: Boone, NC
Coach: Eliah Drinkwitz (0-0 @ ASU & overall) 1st season at App State
Stadium: Kidd Brewer Stadium (Capacity 30,000)

CSJ Projections:
1st: Sun Belt (1st SB East)
2nd: North Carolina
54th: FBS
7th: Group of Five
54th: Division I

2018 In a Sentence: The Mountaineers almost pulled off amajor upset in the opening week but lost 45-38 in overtime at Top 10 Penn State in the opening week and rode the momentum into a Sun Belt Conference championship by winning the inaugural Sun Belt title game over Louisiana. The Mountaineers then blew out Middle Tennessee 45-13 in the New Orleans Bowl to finish 11-2 overall (7-1 SBC) but one loss was Coach Scott Satterfield departing for the same job at Louisville.

Biggest Shoes to Fill: CB Clifton Duck and CB Tae Hayes were both All-SBC performers last year. Duck intercepted 12 passes, made 158 tackles and totaled 324 punt return yards over his three seasons as a starter. Hayes recorded 33 career passes defended, including nine interceptions. Duck signed with the NFL’s Chicago Bears, while Hayes signed with the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars.

Key Player: QB Zac Thomas was named the 2018 Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year after scoring 31 total touchdowns. He threw for 2,039 yards and 21 touchdowns with just six interceptions in his first year as a starter. How the junior adjusts to new Coach Eliah Drinkwitz will be key to the Mountaineer offense. Drinkwitz comes to App State after being the North Carolina State offensive coordinator the past three years.

Fearless Prediction: The transition to a new coach may not have happened with a better sitution than what App State has. Fifteen starters return from both sides of the ball. The losses in the secondary seem like the only question mark for this team. The Mountaineers should not only win the Sun Belt but very well could challenge for the Group of Five’s New Year’s Six bowl bid.