‘Defense wins championships’ is one of the oldest cliches, but it holds true in most cases, and is a tenet App State football has lived by in recent years. On Saturday, however, stopping the football was not high on the Mountaineers’ priority list. While it was a win, it did not go as planned.
The 41 points App State allowed to the Charlotte 49ers were the most a team has scored on them since their road trip to Penn State at the beginning of 2018. Last season, the Mountaineers averaged 125.9 rushing yards allowed, but Charlotte lit them up for 230. The performance even drove alumni and fans to Twitter, writing that this was the worst App State defense they’ve seen in recent years.
What makes all of this significant is the game looming on the horizon. The road trip to face the Tar Heels is one App State fans have looked forward to for years. The Mountaineers have had difficulty against Power Five opponents in the last few seasons, and to get a home-state win would be huge. But, the defensive performance against Charlotte simply will not get it done.
While most have expected the Tar Heels to have an off year, they still have plenty of tricks up their sleeves. They’ve got a legend and national champion in head coach Mack Brown, a freshman stud in Sam Howell at quarterback and their first 2-0 start to a season since 1978. North Carolina has now scored over 20 points against two Power Five teams, including another future App State opponent, South Carolina.
I still firmly believe the Mountaineers have the talent on both sides of the ball to defeat the Tar Heels and do it in style. But, Ted Roof and company have some wrinkles to iron out this bye week if they want a chance to come away with a victory.