Mountaineers search for success in Troy

Joshua Farmer

Riding a four-game losing streak, App State (1-5, 0-2 Sun Belt) heads into a Sun Belt clash with Troy (1-5, 1-1 Sun Belt), a team that just snapped a five-game skid of its own. The Trojans defeated New Mexico State 41-24 for its first victory of the season.

“The game was highly competitive and those guys played hard and our guys played hard,” Troy head coach Larry Blakeney said. “Our guys played hard with emotion, like you’re supposed to play the game. We were able to get out with a pretty solid win at the end. I’m very proud of the coaches and the players and I’m proud to be sitting here today with a chance to say we won a game.”

App State, coming off a 55-48 overtime loss to Liberty, will look to right the ship after the defense allowed more than 500 total yards a week ago.

“We’ve got to mix it up defensively, we just can’t line up our normal defense and not expect them to move the football,” App State head coach Scott Satterfield said. “We have got to show different looks and get more pressure on the quarterback. So, that means having some different pressure packages and mixing up from man to zone.”

Redshirt freshman quarterback Taylor Lamb will look to continue his success against a mostly man-to-man defense in the Trojans. Troy could give Lamb some issues – tight spirals into small windows will be key for him.

“Troy is an aggressive defense,” Satterfield said. “They’re going to play us in man-coverage. You’re going to have tight coverage and you’re going to have to throw into some tight windows. Our receivers are going to have to make some plays on those throws.”

Despite throwing for 397 yards on 31 attempts last week, the Mountaineers couldn’t come out on top in overtime. For Lamb, though, the confidence is growing with each and every start.

“We took a lot of deep shots, and it definitely gives me confidence,” Lamb said. “To be able to air it out more, especially at this level, you have to have confidence to push the ball down the field. To be a leader as a freshman, as I am stepping into that role, it’s a big deal.”

Marcus Cox, the team’s leading rusher both last year and this year, will also need to bounce back after a tough week. After rushing for a 38-yard score on the offense’s first possession, the sophomore running back fumbled twice throughout the game.

Redshirt freshman running back Terrence Upshaw will start at Troy, according to the Mountaineer’s official depth chart.

“We sat (Cox) down and we said, ‘Hey, we can’t play if you fumble the football,’” Satterfield said.  “Terrence is starting this week. In the NFL, sometimes you get cut when you fumble the football too much. This is a business where if you turn the football over, you’re putting your team in jeopardy.”

Cox, like his head coach, said he knows how crucial not turning the ball over is.

“You definitely think about it, and feel like you are hurting your team,” Cox said. “But at the same time, you can’t dwell on the past. This week I’m just trying to stay focused and not worry too much about it, just focus on the little things like protecting the ball and doing what I can to help my team.”

The Mountaineers and Trojans are set to kick-off at 3 p.m. Saturday.

Story: Nick Joyner, Senior Sports Reporter