Everything You Need To Know About The Appalachian State vs. Georgia Game
It’s the opening game of the 2017 season in Athens and No. 15 Georgia hosts Sun Belt Conference Champion Appalachian State in a border clash. Here are the particulars and pregame analysis.
Kickoff: 6:15 p.m. EDT
Where: Sanford Stadium, Athens, Georgia
TV: ESPN (Play-by-play: Mike Patrick; Color commentator: Tommy Tuberville; Sideline reporter: Paul Carcaterra)
Georgia Radio: Athens 960 AM/106.1 FM; Atlanta 750 AM/95.5 FM; Macon106.3 FM; Augusta 580 AM/95.1 FM; Savannah 1400 AM/104.3 FM; Columbus 1460 AM/100.1 FM; Valdosta 105.9 FM; Rome 107.1 FM (IMG Radio-Scott Howard, Eric Zeier, Chuck Dowdle)
Sirius/XM: Channel 134/192
Weather: High temperature of 85°, 83° at kickoff, dipping into the high 60s in the second half, 52% humidity, 6 mph wind, mostly sunnycloudy, 15% chance of rain.
Series history: Georgia leads the overall series 1-0.
Last meeting: Georgia beat App State 45-6 in Athens in 2013.
Georgia players to watch:
OFFENSE- QB Jacob Eason, RB Nick Chubb, TE Isaac Nauta, RB Sony Michel
DEFENSE- S Dominick Sanders, DL Trent Thompson, LB Roquan Smith, LB Lorenzo Carter
App State players to watch:
OFFENSE- QB Taylor Lamb, RB Jalin Moore, WR Shaedon Meadors
DEFENSE- DB Clifton Moore, DB AJ Howard, DT Myquon Stout, DT Antonious Sims
Georgia hasn’t lost to a non-Power 5 opponent since the 2011 opener with Boise State in the Georgia Dome. App State is no stranger to facing Power 5 opponents. No one will ever forget the Mountaineers shocking upset of Michigan in Ann Arbor in 2007. App State had Tennessee beaten in Knoxville for most of last year’s game with the Vols, before falling in overtime, 20-13.
The game should see a fairly balanced amount of rushing and passing. Running the ball will be the key to the game as App State junior Jalin Mooreis coming off a 1400-yard season and a Sun Belt Player of the Year Award. Georgia counters with the dynamic duo of seniors Nick Chubb and Sony Michel.
When Georgia has the ball
Kirby Smart said App State will be one of the fastest defensive teams the Dawgs will face all season. The Mountaineers statistically had the nation’s 10th best pass defense and recored 20 interceptions last season. App State. The rebuilt offensive line will have to protect Jacob Eason and a crop of new receivers will have to prove themselves against the talented App State secondary. Expect Eason to look for tight end Isaac Nauta in the seam and junior wide receiver Terry Godwin to stretch the field. With a steady diet of Chubb and Michel, plus sophomores Brian Herrien and Elijah Holyfield, the Georgia line should be able to wear down the smaller Mountaineer front seven.
Eason has a year under his belt and it will be interesting to see how he comes out. Will Kirby turn the sophomore quarterback loose or hold on to the reins? Expect App State to load the box and force Georgia to put the ball in the air.
Georgia will have to contain senior defensive tackle Antonious Sims. The 6’3”, 265-pound Covington, GA native led the Mountaineers in tackles for a loss (12) and sacks (7) last season. He is a disruptive force and Isaiah Wynn and the offensive line will have their hands full.
When Appalachian State has the ball
App State’s best offensive threats are quarterback Taylor Lamb and running back Jalin Moore. Lamb, from Calhoun, GA, is second among active NCAA quarterbacks in wins with 27. He is a dual threat, passing for 2,281yards yards and rushing for 506 yards last season. Moore rushed for 1402 yards and 10 touchdowns last season and is a threat every time he touches the ball. Lamb will have his leading receiver from 2016 returning. Shaedon Meadows caught 45 balls for 716 yards and two touchdowns last year.
Lamb will need to make good decisions and keep moving the chains, much like the Mountaineers did against the Vols last year. App State doesn’t have the depth that Georgia possesses and keeping his defense well-rested and off the field is key for his team,
Keys to the game:
- Turnovers – Georgia and App State were tied for 19th in the country last season, each with a plus 8 turnover margin. Too many times last season, Georgia didn’t take advantage of turnover opportunities. The Dawgs will have to continue their ball-hawking ways
- Play to your potential – Georgia isn’t a 14 – point favorite for nothing. They are deeper and have the better team. However, the Dawgs can’t have another Nicholls State fiasco. There needs to be an intensity and sense of urgency on the field, from kickoff to the final whistle.
- Pound the line of scrimmage – The Georgia line has to to open some holes for Chubb and Sony Michel. Any positive yardage is good yardage because all that first half pounding should wear down App State in the second half.
- The kicking game – Rodrigo Blankenship won a heated kicking competition and needs to convert when the opportunities present themselves. If grad transfer punter Cameron Nizialek can maintain his 46-yard per punt average from last season, the kicking game will be in good shape.
- Red Zone Conversion- App State ranked 8th -best in the country in red zone defense last season. Georgia ranked 64th in the country in red zone scoring. Dawgs need to finish drives and capitalize on opportunities.
No matter who the opponent may be, its the season opener so the Dawgs should be sky high. Add a night game and a national television audience, the Sanford Stadium atmosphere will be electric. After beating up on one another during fall practice, they should be raring to go. One has to wonder how the coaching staff has kept the Dawgs focused on this week, and not looking forward to Notre Dame next week. These type game are always dangerous but the Dawgs know how good App State can be and should be mentally ready.
Georgia has a host of freshman from the No. 3 – rated recruiting class seeking playing time. Expect to see several of the youngsters taking the field, including defensive back Richard LeCounte, running back D’Andre Swift, lineman Andrew Thomas and wide receiver Mark Webb.
Georgia is a 14– point favorite and the Dawgs are entering the season with big expectations. The coaching staff, which remained mostly in intact from 2016, has a year under its belt and a better understanding of the players capabilities. The Redcoat train picks up steam and starts rolling down the track.