Mountaineers look to resurgent offense to lead team against ULM

Nick Joyner

The offense is beginning to fire on all cylinders for the App State football team. The attack has been led by redshirt freshman quarterback Taylor Lamb and sophomore running back Marcus Cox.

Cox, who churned out a career-high 250 rushing yards and three touchdowns in the 44-0 home victory over Georgia State last week, was named Sun Belt offensive player of the week.

Just last week, Cox was placed second on the depth chart behind freshman Terrence Upshaw due to fumbling issues. The coaches said they wanted to send a message that fumbling the football simply cannot happen. Eight quarters, zero fumbles and six touchdowns later, it’s likely safe to say Cox received that message.

“Talking about schemes, Marcus picks up that kind of stuff almost automatically,” junior running back Ricky Fergerson said. “Just the way he runs, it doesn’t seem like he’s even moving all that fast, it kind of seems like he’s gliding on the field. He’s able to see stuff coming from every direction. His vision is really what separates him from a lot of people.”

Head coach Scott Satterfield has been very pleased with the way his ground game has evolved over the course of the season. The trio of Cox, Upshaw and Fergerson has helped keep the offense rolling.

“We’ve added a little bit more to our running game this year,” Satterfield said. “We’ve added an outside zone and an inside zone and we’ve got ways to get outside to the edge. With those three things, the defense can’t hone down on any one thing. In the past, we’ve run a lot of inside zone, but now, with this outside zone and some other little things we’re doing with it, that’s really helped to open up some holes for us to run the football. “

App State (3-5, 2-2 Sun Belt) and UL Monroe (3-5, 2-2 Sun Belt) are even in the conference standings heading into the Black Saturday matchup. Second in the conference in rushing and total offense, App State likes to run the ball as much as possible. UL Monroe, however, relies on their defense, which is one of the best in the Sun Belt Conference.

The Warhawks, who lead the Sun Belt Conference in total defense allowing just 349.5 yards per game, are coming off a week that saw them nearly knock off an SEC team. UL Monroe traveled to College Station, Texas, to take on Texas A&M and lost 21-16 despite gaining over 100 total yards more than the Aggies.

“This week will be a different story,” Satterfield said. “They have a really good run-stopping defense, so we’re going to have to really play well this week to run the football.  Defense is obviously their strength, and they have leaned on it. They think the formula for winning is defense first.”

On offense, the Warhawks are last in the conference, scoring 17.4 points per game. The team is also last in rushing yards per game, averaging 91.1 yards per game and just six rushing touchdowns all year.

ULM prefers to air the ball out with senior quarterback Pete Thomas.

“They love to throw it as well,” junior defensive end Ronald Blair said. “They’ve got a pretty decent offensive-line, the quarterback can sling that thing and he’s got some wheels as well. We have got to make sure we stay on top to keep their quarterback contained.”

Lamb has gotten noticeably comfortable with the offense as he heads into his seventh career start Saturday. Lamb has gone three out of the last four games without throwing an interception, and has added eight combined rushing and passing touchdowns in the same span.

“That’s our offense, we’re going to run the ball and then throw it,” Lamb said. “The past couple weeks we have been running the ball so well, we didn’t even have to throw it as much as we want to. That’s going to be the game plan, we’re going to come in and start to run. Then throw, and hopefully put up a lot of points.”

App State and UL Monroe kick-off at 3:30 p.m. at Kidd Brewer Stadium.

Story: Nick Joyner, Senior Sports Reporter