The Next Level: Appalachian State will pose problems for Cajuns defense
Like most good football teams, Appalachian State has two distinct ways it can hurt a defense.
It can rely on stellar sophomore quarterback Taylor Lamb, who has passed for 17 touchdowns against just three interceptions against Sun Belt Conference opponents.
“The kid is an excellent quarterback,” Cajuns coach Mark Hudspeth said. “He makes their offense go. I don’t know if you stop a guy like that. You just sort of hope to slow him down and not let him just beat you.”
Or App State can have Lamb turn around and hand it to junior running back Marcus Cox, who has six 100-yard games to his credit this season and appears to be over a couple nagging injuries that kept him out of the Mountaineers’ last game against Idaho.
“He presses the hole real well and he fits his blocks real well,” said Cajuns linebacker Otha Peters. “One play will go all the way to the left and he’ll cut it all the way right for a big gain, I’ve seen it a couple of times.”
For the Cajuns, this is decidedly not good news.
They’ve shown themselves capable of eliminating one half of one-two offensive punches this season. ... But they’ve usually left their chin vulnerable to the knockout blow from the other hand in the process.
Against Louisiana Tech, they devoted their attention to stopping superb running back Kenneth Dixon and did a good job doing so. ... But quarterback Jeff Driskel then proceeded to throw for 290 yards and a pair of scores.
Against Arkansas State, they bottled up quarterback Freddie Knighten, holding him to a pedestrian day in the passing game. ... But the Red Wolves’ group of standout running backs gashed them for 306 yards on the ground, a season-worst for the Cajuns.
In order to keep their hope for a postseason bid alive, the Cajuns need to find a way to eliminate the “but” in this week’s game.
Easier said than done.
Cox pounded the Cajuns defense for 151 yards on 36 carries last season even as the Cajuns held Lamb in check in a 35-16 loss.
1. Marquee matchup
Jamal Robinson has been one of the hottest wideouts in college football lately, with 22 catches for 371 yards in his past two weeks. Appalachian State will counter with superb sophomore cornerback Latrell Gibbs, who has picked off five passes this season and broken up eight more.
2. Points at a premium
Appalachian State enters with the Sun Belt’s top-ranked defense in virtually every major statistical category. The Mountaineers are a well coached team that executes its mission. Don’t be surprised to see the Cajuns try every trick in their book to score some points against the league’s most stout unit.
3. Revenge game?
Appalachian State ruined the Cajuns’ chances at a share of the conference title last season when they came into town and handed the Cajuns their only conference loss of the season. The Cajuns would love nothing more than to return the favor and keep their slim chances at the postseason alive.
4. Half-mile high
It’ll be interesting to see if the Cajuns are at all affected by the elevation in Boone, North Carolina. The stadium sits roughly 3,000 feet above sea level, which is of course about 3,000 feet higher than what the Cajuns players are used to. As if the Cajuns didn’t have enough things to worry about this week.