|After Michigan, can Appalachian stun LSU, too?|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 27 August 2008 11:54|
``It was a money game,'' coach Jerry Moore said.
Like most schools playing in Division I college football's second tier, App State would collect a six-figure check to help pay the bills, get some national exposure, play in front of plenty of people - and take a beating. The Mountaineers lost to North Carolina State, Kansas and LSU by a combined 83-18 in the 2005 and '06 seasons.
But after Appalachian set the tone for a wacky 2007 by stunning Michigan on opening weekend, few are concerned with how much money the Mountaineers will collect when they visit defending national champion and No. 7 LSU Saturday.
With dynamic, elusive quarterback Armanti Edwards, a tough-to-defend spread offense and plenty of speed, the question is: Can the Mountaineers do it again, pull another stunner in the matchup of defending champions from college football's top two divisions.
``We know we're a huge underdog and the chances are even worse than David and Goliath,'' Moore said Tuesday. ``We don't have enough stones up here, but we're looking forward to it.''
Certainly after last year's 34-32 win at then-No. 5 Michigan, college football's all-time winningest program, you can't rule out anything. And with LSU facing uncertainty at quarterback, the speedy Edwards may be the best QB in Saturday's game, which was moved up a year so it could be nationally televised by ESPN.
``Anybody that plays sports should go in expecting to win,'' said Edwards, who accounted for a whopping 3,536 yards and 38 touchdowns last season.
Don't expect Appalachian State to enter Tiger Stadium overwhelmed. Not after winning 36 of its last 40 games, capturing three straight Football Championship Subdivision titles, and with the memories of silencing 109,000 fans at the Big House still fresh in their minds.
``All you guys like to refer to the Michigan game and I'll refer to it, too,'' Moore said. ``We had very few penalties (seven) against Michigan. Our kicking game (two field goals) was pretty solid against Michigan. Those two things alone kept us in the game. It gave us a chance. And the way it turned out a mistake in the kicking game probably cost Michigan an opportunity to win the game.''
Corey Lynch's blocked field goal on the final play cemented perhaps college football's most surprising result ever. But Edwards' passing and running, the Mountaineers' speed and Michigan's inability to properly defend the spread offense allowed for the special teams heroics.
LSU, despite losing defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey to the NFL, is faster on defense. Defensive ends Tyson Jackson and Kirston Pittman are powerful and the Tigers love to blitz.
``In our passing game, it's going to be quick throws, getting the ball out as quick as we can,'' said Edwards, who also lost top receivers Dexter Jackson and Hans Batichon to graduation. ``We'll try to run away from them and make them chase us. Hopefully they'll get tired by the second half.''
While the Michigan win changed everything on Appalachian's Boone, N.C., campus, the victory also means there's no more sneaking up on teams. LSU coach Les Miles has made sure his players watched plenty of film of last year's Michigan game.
``Obviously they're a quality program, but playing a team like Michigan with tradition like that, it was definitely surprising,'' LSU quarterback Andrew Hatch said. ``I guess we're just preparing. We respect all of our opponents and we'll be ready to go like any other week.''
Despite the Michigan shocker, Appalachian State probably shouldn't have a chance at LSU. They have 22 fewer scholarships (85-63) and are outsized on both lines. After using less than 40 players at Michigan, they'll likely face hot, humid conditions in the Bayou, three years after they lost there 24-0.
But Moore, Edwards and the Mountaineers aren't about to concede. After what happened last year, how could they?
``We're looking forward to it. I think both schools are looking forward to it,'' Moore said. ``They're the defending national champions, so are we. Even though there's a huge gap in there - and LSU knows that just as well as we do - it's a great challenge for us.''
AP Sports Writer Brett Martel in Baton Route, La., contributed to this report.