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Declawing the Red Wolves

The+Mountaineers+celebrate+their+win+against+University+of+Louisiana+at+Monroe+Saturday+evening+at+Kidd+Brewer+Stadium.+Photo+by+Sarah+Weiffenbach++%7C++The+Appalachian
The Mountaineers celebrate their win against University of Louisiana at Monroe Saturday evening at Kidd Brewer Stadium. Photo by Sarah Weiffenbach | The Appalachian

Tale of slow starts
The big story in Saturday’s game is the fact that both of these teams are as hot as anyone else in the Sun Belt right now.

App State is riding a three-game winning streak that has propelled it to 4-5 after starting 1-5. Similarly, Arkansas State has gone 5-1 since starting the year 1-2.

The Mountaineers haven’t just been winning, either. The black and gold have won by an average score of 43-14 during their win streak and have outgained opponents by an average of 499-223 yards.

The Red Wolves lone loss in their last six games came in a 55-40 loss to first-place UL Lafayette on Oct. 21.

Saturday’s game should be a good one, as few teams in the Sun Belt are playing as well at the moment as App State and Arkansas State.

Streaking Mountaineers
Speaking of the hot Mountaineers, they will be a handful for the Red Wolves to slow down despite having the home field advantage in Jonesboro, Arkansas.

App state’s offense has been firing on all cylinders of late as redshirt freshman quarterback Taylor Lamb and sophomore running back Marcus Cox have led the way, but Arkansas State has surrendered 14 points or less in four of its last six contests.

Something has to give in this one, but the Mountaineers shouldn’t need more motivation as a win would give them their fourth-straight win, which would match their longest winning streak since 2012.

Statistically even
Not only are both teams playing at a high level, but they are also near the top of the conference in two major statistical categories – total offense and defense.

The Mountaineers and Red Wolves rank second and third, respectively in both of these categories.

App State gains 459.1 yards per game while giving up 359.1 while the Red Wolves gain 461.1 yards per game and surrender 370.2.

Looking at that suggests this could be a fantastic fight.

Great quarterback matchup
Saturday’s game pits two of the Sun Belt’s most effective quarterbacks against each other.

Arkansas State’s junior signal caller Fredi Knighten leads the Sun Belt in total offense, generating 290.2 yards per game.

Lamb isn’t far behind Knighten, however, as he averages 263.9 yards of total offense per game.

Matching up against a stiff Red Wolves defense and trying to outgun Knighten won’t be easy, but it will be a good measure of how far Lamb’s growth has come as a quarterback and a leader for the App State offense.

Chance to make a statement
It’s never easy to win on the road, but App State has had back-to-back home games to build confidence heading to Jonesboro.

It’s been a long time since the Mountaineers hit the road, but they should be a confident team after ripping off three-straight convincing wins.

After a rough start to the season, it looked as though the Mountaineers were doomed for another down year.

However, a win Saturday would even App State’s record to 5-5 overall and move the team into a tie for third place in the Sun Belt with a conference mark of 4-2.

Those marks aren’t half bad for a team that looked like it had hit rock bottom following an overtime loss on homecoming to Liberty.

The Mountaineers can make a statement with a win Saturday. A statement that says head coach Scott Satterfield and his team never gave up on this season and will continue to grow into next year.

Story: Cory Spiers, Sports Editor

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