Getting over the hump


Junior wide receiver Simms McElfresh fights off a group of tacklers during a full-contact spring scrimmage last Saturday at Kidd Brewer Stadium. Photo by Corey Spiers | The Appalachian

Cory Spiers

The Matchup

The Campbell Fighting Camels and the App State Mountaineers will meet for the first time since 1931 in the Mountaineers’ first home FBS game.

More than 80 years ago, the Mountaineers defeated Campbell 20-6 in Boone, and after dropping the first game of this season to Michigan by a final score of 52-14, App State looks to even their early season record at 1-1.

Like App State, Campbell is coming off of a loss after falling to UNC Charlotte 33-9 on the road in their first game of the season.

How App State can win

The Mountaineers ran the ball well in Ann Arbor last week. In particular, redshirt freshman running back Terrence Upshaw had a great game, rushing for 109 yards on 18 carries.

Upshaw became the first App State player in 40 years to rush for 100 yards in his collegiate debut, and the Mountaineers will have to rely heavily on their running game if they are to take control of the game early at home.

Sophomore running back Marcus Cox scored one of the two App State touchdowns on a one-yard touchdown run against the Wolverines. Cox and Upshaw should be confident after helping the Mountaineers rush for 153 yards against a Michigan defense that returned nine starters from a defense that ranked fifth in the Big Ten Conference against the run last year.

If the running game can get going early, the Mountaineers will control the clock and the game.

The App State defense allowed 560 yards against the Wolverines last week, so consistent pressure in the Campbell backfield will be crucial for the Mountaineers to put that behind them. Junior defensive end Ronald Blair returned last week after missing 10 games last season with a thumb injury, and compiled three tackles and a sack of Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner.

Blair and senior defensive end Deuce Robinson could be difference-makers if they can get into the Fighting Camel backfield consistently.

How Campbell can win

The Fighting Camels have their work cut out for them in their first game against an FBS opponent.

In home openers, App State is 61-20-2 all-time. The Mountaineers lost their home opener last season to North Carolina A&T but have not dropped consecutive home openers since 1982-83.

Campbell will have to stack the box on defense to attempt to slow down the App State ground game and force junior quarterback Kameron Bryant into making tough throws. Bryant struggled last week for the Mountaineers, completing 8 of his 19 passes for 58 yards and a touchdown.

The Fighting Camels should look to get creative on offense early and attempt to take the crowd out of the game, which in Boone, is never an easy feat.

The bottom line

App State has a great opportunity to energize its fans and get their record back to .500. Campbell went 3-10 last season under head coach Mike Minter and did not play well against the 49ers last week.

If the Mountaineers can get the home fans excited early, it could be a long day for Campbell.

App State has a bye week following this week’s game. The early bye week presents a chance for the Mountaineers to analyze the first two weeks of play and a win would be a positive point of analysis for the coaching staff.

Story: Cory Spiers, Sports Editor

Infographic: Malik Rahili, Visual Managing Editor