A Look At Georgia’s 2017 Opening Opponent — Appalachian State Mountaineers
Georgia opens the 2017 college football season this weekend by hosting defending Sun Belt champion Appalachian State.
The men from Boone, NC make the 4 1/2 hour bus ride to Athens for a second border clash with the Bulldogs.
The Mountaineers are coming off a 10-3 record in 2016, including a bowl win. No stranger to playing Power 5 teams, Appalachian State had one of the greatest upsets in NCAA history, when the FCS Mountaineers beat Michigan 34-32 in the Big House in 2007. Last season they had Tennessee on the ropes before losing 20-13 in overtime. Georgia is currently a 14-point favorite but the Dawgs will have to be sharp to overcome a very talented Appalachian State squad.
On defense, Georgia will have to contend with one of two senior quarterbacks on its 2017 schedule. Cahoun, GA native Taylor Lamb is second among active NCAA quarterbacks in wins with 27. He is a dual threat, passing for 2,281 yards and rushing for 506 yards and nine touchdowns in 2016.
Junior running back Jalin Moore carried the ball 237 times for 1,402 yards and 10 touchdowns as a sophomore. He is dangerous out of the spread, hitting the hole fast and tough for defensive backs to bring down.
Lamb will have his leading receiver from last year returning. Senior wideout Shaedon Meadows had 45 receptions for 716 yards and two touchdowns last season. Senior wide receiver Ike Lewis is another key target, after ranking second on the team last season in average yards per game with 26.2.
The Mountaineers return the team leader in tackles for a loss (12) and sacks (7), senior defensive tackle Antonious Sims. The 6’3″, 265-pound Covington, GA native will be surrounded by several newcomers, as the defense lost five of the team’s top-10 tacklers from a year ago. However, as Kirby Smart stated, the Mountaineers are “as quick and as fast as we’ll play all year,” so the Dawgs need to be clicking on offense.
The strength of Appalachian State’s defense is the defensive backfield. Statistically, the the Mountaineers had the nation’s 10th best pass defense in 2016. They allowed only six yards per pass attempt, 12 passing touchdowns and secured 20 interceptions. Eight Montaineers had at least one interception, led by Freshman All-American Clifton Duck, who had five interceptions.
The kicking game returns capable sophomore Michael Rubino, who was 15-21 in field goal attempts last season. Special teams have always been a strength of the Mountaineers and 2017 should follow suit.
Sixteen Peach Staters populate the Appalachian State roster. Most likely, all those kids were bypassed by Georgia in recruiting and would love nothing more than to beat the home state school. Beating a ranked Power 5 team, especially a neighbor, would be huge for the Mountaineers and Sun Belt. The Dawgs are facing a very good team with a winning history. They need to come out aggressively and most importantly, keep the throttle to the floor for 60 minutes. The Mountaineers will be battling the entire game and Georgia can’t afford to overlook Appalachian State.