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Matchup of the Week: Appalachian State Edition

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The No. 25 Canes are coming off a 38-10 victory over FAU and will head to Boone, NC to face Appalachian State on ESPN.

Florida Atlantic v Miami

Let’s clear the air now, this IS NOT a trap game. The reason being? App State is a very good football team and this will be a nationally televised game on Saturday. The Mountaineers will be a likely upset pick for this weekend as the Canes travel to Boone, North Carolina in what will be the biggest ever home game in App State’s history. (Note: It is the first time App State is hosting a Power 5 opponent at home and it is also the first time Miami is playing a Sun Belt opponent on the road.)

Saturday marks the first ever meeting between the two schools, but App State is no stranger to playing Power 5 schools. I’m sure we’ve all seen this highlight: (Sorry Cam)

Simply amazing what App State was able to do. But for more recent memory, App State gave Tennessee all they could handle the first week of the season in Knoxville. The Vols got VERY lucky, there’s really no other way to put it, and escaped with an overtime victory.

Miami Defense vs. App State Rush Offense

You’ll probably keep seeing this matchup of “Miami’s defense vs. _________,” to be honest. With the defense being much maligned last season, it is important for this until to continue to improve and show their improvement on a consistent basis.

App State operates from a spread, but run-heavy offense that uses various formations and movements to confuse a defense. App State is also a well-coached and and hard working team, so don’t expect them to take any plays off, especially with an opponent like Miami coming to town.

Players to watch for in App State’s offense are junior QB Taylor Lamb and senior running back Marcus Cox. Both players are in their third season as starters and both hail from the Peach state. That’s right, the same state where Mark Richt coached for 15 seasons at UGA. Of course, neither of those players got offers from the Bulldogs, and now will look for some revenge on the former Georgia head coach.

Lamb isn’t necessarily spectacular through the air or on the ground, but he is very good at what he does for this offense. Lamb is a smart and mobile QB who fits this system as perfectly as you can get. Lamb threw for 2,387 yards with 31 touchdowns to just nine interceptions, while also rushing for 436 yards and five touchdowns. His play helped App State to an 11-2 record last season in their first year in the FBS. However, he was rather pedestrian against Tennessee, only throwing for 108 yards while completing 15 of 23 passes. Cox, on the other hand, has looked very good this season, rushing for 115 and 133 yards in his first two games; 115 coming versus Tennessee. He has accounted for four touchdowns this season, including a 33-yard touchdown catch against the Vols.

On Miami’s side, they will be tasked with slowing down the App State offense that has given opponents fits for the past two seasons. The Canes defense has been exponentially better at the start of this season compared to 2015, and will need to continue this trends next week. Although the defense hasn’t been completely healthy since the beginning of camp, they have shown that they have some depth to work with and talent in multiple positions. The front seven will need to duplicate their success from the FAU game in order to survive this road trip to Boone. Linebackers Michael Pinkney and Shaquille Quarterman will need to show up even more than they already have been so the Canes can come away with a victory.

For Miami to win this game, they will need to dominate up front. There’s no if, ands or buts about the magnitude of this game, and that’s for both programs. App State will play with the toughness and grit they constantly play with and will look to show the country that the near-win at Tennessee was no fluke.

This by far won’t be the most talented team Miami plays, but this may be the most well-coached and disciplined team Miami plays. Although Kaaya and the offense struggled against FAU, I’m fairly confident in their ability to rebound and begin to find their rhythm again before conference play.

The defense is where most of my concern lies. It’s not necessarily thinking they will struggle, but are they going to perform like they have been the first two games of the season? Probably not, but keeping App State running back Marcus Cox at or below 100 yards would be a win. Limiting their abilities and getting them out of their rhythm as an offense will do wonders for the Canes offense.

It will be a GREAT atmosphere for both teams, something App State isn’t accustom to at home. There will be more energy from their players and fans than maybe ever before. But Miami will need to play their ‘A-game’ to come out with a victory. Anything less is trouble. The Canes will sweat more in this game than they have in the first two combined. It’ll be a dog fight. My prediction?

Canes 31-App State 24