Five takeaways from App State’s 31-13 victory at ULM

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Becca Bridges

App State senior quarterback Zac Thomas makes a throw during the Mountaineers’ 45-17 homecoming win over Arkansas State Oct. 22.

Cameron Burnett, Reporter

1. Mountaineers’ defense creating more turnovers

After combining for only three takeaways in the last three games, App State had three interceptions in the second half of the game against UL-Monroe. Junior defensive back Ryan Huff had two interceptions, while sophomore linebacker Brendan Harrington had one interception.

“We felt like we needed to show that we are some of the best safeties in the conference and that we needed to play a little bit more aggressive,” Huff said.

The aggression was displayed last week, creating those turnovers while the team also finished with three sacks and disrupted the ULM offense, especially in the second half.

2. App State’s offense still has a much higher ceiling

The Mountaineers offense finished the game with 480 total yards and only one turnover on a contested pass in the end zone. The offense was given good field position off of three takeaways, but failed to score any points on those opportunities.

“The defense came up three times … three interceptions. As an offense, that’s a chance to put them away and that’s what we have to get better as an offensive group,” senior quarterback Zac Thomas said. “When you have that good of (a) field position, you have to score every time, no matter if it’s three or seven.”

During the second half, App State’s offense ran heavily and chewed the clock, knowing the team had a lead, which limited ULM’s opportunities to close the lead.

3. Running the football remains  #1 for App’s offense

App State finished the game with 328 rushing yards compared with ULM’s 68, showing that the Mountaineers continue to be a physical team before anything else. Two of App State’s touchdowns came on passes over 30 yards, when the defense was focused on the run and left their defensive backs in one-on-one coverage, which was taken advantage of.

“There’s many times where I had guys open, but I knew I could get 10 yards and a first down and so I was just gonna get it, get down, and keep the clock moving,” Thomas said.

Thomas finished with 109 rushing yards, leading the team while also setting a new career-high in that category for the second straight week. As the Mountaineers continue the season, running the ball and controlling the line of scrimmage will continue to be their priority.

4. Christian Wells continues to impress as a reliable WR

Redshirt freshman wide receiver Christian Wells had another touchdown this game. Late in the second quarter, Thomas completed a 37-yard touchdown to Wells, his third in just two games. 

“These guys, they’re heck of ball players and it comes to a point now where they have to learn a little more than what they already know,” Thomas said.

The touchdown came on the heels of a play earlier in the game where Thomas was looking for Wells in the end zone and it ended up being intercepted. Wells proved that he can have a short memory by scoring two drivers later. 

“The deep ball to Christian Wells was my fault or his fault, he made up for it. That was good for his mentality for the rest of the season,” Thomas said.

Three of his eight catches of the year have been for touchdowns and he has become one of the top deep threats on this team as just a freshman.

5. The Sun Belt Conference Championship still runs through Boone

After a loss to Marshall early in the season, the Mountaineers have ripped off three straight double-digit victories. The loss knocked them out of the AP Poll and two Sun Belt teams, Louisiana-Lafayette and Coastal Carolina, have been ranked since then. Coastal is currently ranked No. 15 and will host the Mountaineers in three weeks.

“We have a very good conference from top to bottom. If you don’t come ready to play, you’re gonna get beat, and that’s the beauty of the Sun Belt,” Clark said.

Both App State and Coastal are undefeated in the conference and their game will likely decide who will play in the conference championship from the Sun Belt East. Coastal will likely be undefeated when the Mountaineers go to Brooks Stadium to play the Chanticleers. App State has won the last two Sun Belt championship games and will be poised to repeat this year.