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Mountaineers look to rebound against Monarchs

Redshirt+junior+wide+receiver+Kaedin+Robinson+looks+to+get+past+the+Monarch+defender+Nov.+19%2C+2022.
Hiatt Ellis
Redshirt junior wide receiver Kaedin Robinson looks to get past the Monarch defender Nov. 19, 2022.

App State will travel to Norfolk, Virginia, to play against Old Dominion Saturday as both teams hold a 3-3 overall record and are looking to eclipse a winning record. 

The Mountaineers are coming off a last-second 27-24 loss to Coastal Carolina Oct. 10, as the Monarchs won Oct. 7 against Southern Miss 17-13. Both teams have experienced extended breaks since last competing on the field. 

App State and Old Dominion have yet to experience back-to-back wins or losses to begin the season, giving more significance to this game as both teams face formidable strength of schedules to end the season. 

“This is going to be another challenging road trip versus another Sun Belt East opponent,” said head coach Shawn Clark.

The Monarchs offense relies on its run game, averaging 151.7 rushing yards per game. The ODU rushing attack is led by running back Kadarius Calloway, who broke out for 236 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 11 carries against Marshall. 

“We have to do a good job of mixing it out on the back end,” Clark said. “Bring a safety down and help us a little bit in the run game.”

An effective run game has become critical as Old Dominion quarterbacks Grant Wilson and Jack Shields have both started and benched. Monarchs head coach Ricky Rahne has yet to name a starter for Saturday’s game. The two quarterbacks have combined nine passing touchdowns and eight interceptions through six games. While ODU has thrown the second most interceptions in the Sun Belt, they rank last in passing completions with 75. 

  The strength of this Old Dominion team is its defense; allowing 4.89 yards per play, the second least in the Sun Belt. This is due to the play of Monarch linebacker Jason Henderson, who leads college football in total tackles with 93. 

“With Henderson, you know he’s going to make plays,” Clark said. “We have to try to slow him down a little bit, but he’s such a good player; he’s going to make plays.”

On the opposite side, App State comes in with a balanced offensive attack that’s strong in both the passing and run game. The Black and Gold offense averages 456.2 yards per game, ranking 27th in college football. 

With averaging 189 rushing yards per game, the health of junior running back Nate Noel remains a question mark.

Noel, who leads the Mountaineers in rushing yards with 652, is nursing an ankle injury suffered against Coastal Carolina and his status will remain a question until pre-game warmups. If Noel were to miss the game, it’ll likely be a running back by committee, and the run game will operate through the hot hand. 

App State’s passing game will continue to be led by junior quarterback Joey Aguilar, leading the Mountaineers to 267.2 passing yards per game, ranking 60th in college football. Through six games, Aguilar has spread the ball around and will continue against the Monarchs. 

“He’s getting better week in and week out,” Clark said. “He’s improving his game and understanding of the offense.”

The Black and Gold run defense will be tested against a run-oriented ODU team, as the Mountaineers have allowed 5.29 rushing yards per attempt, the second highest in the Sun Belt. With extra days to prepare since the Oct. 10 loss, issues related to the run defense would likely be looked at and adjusted.

With two teams with much to prove after six games, Saturday night’s game will shine a spotlight on both teams as it’ll be televised on NFL Network at 7 p.m. This will be the first time either team will have played on NFL Network as both teams will look to improve to 4-3.  

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About the Contributors
Chance Chamberlain, Associate Sports Editor
Chance Chamberlain (he/him) is a senior journalism major, media studies minor. This is his second year writing for The Appalachian.
Hiatt Ellis, Associate Photo Editor
Hiatt Ellis (he/him) is a junior commercial photography major, entrepreneurship minor, from Surf City, NC. This is his third year with The Appalachian.
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