Offensive line spearheads strong running game


Colin Tate

Through the first two weeks of the season, the Appalachian State rushing attack has played at a high level, thanks in large part to the standout play from the offensive line.

The Mountaineers gained 663 total yards in their first game against Howard, and a staggering 376 of those yards were on the ground. Starting offensive linemen Davante Harris, Parker Collins, Jesse Chapman, Beau Nunn, and Colby Gossett all helped App State blowout the Bison.

“Every running back that we put out there had some nice holes to run behind,” head coach Scott Satterfield said. “I think our quarterbacks were efficient throwing the football. Both quarterbacks. You can’t do that unless your offensive line is solid.”

In the next game against Clemson, the Mountaineers rushed for 203 yards. In both games, the team saw its feature back, junior Marcus Cox, run for over 100 yards.

While the running game has done well against its first two opponents, the coaches and players still know there is room to improve.

“That’s the great thing about the season,” offensive line coach Dwayne Ledford said. “Every day you get the opportunity to come out and practice and just keep trying to hone in on the things that players have to get better at.”

Through this method, Ledford and the team hope to improve in new areas each week.

“We want to build on the things that we did the previous week,” Ledford said. “Hopefully, the following week we can see some improvements from some of the things that we did poorly on the week before.”

With two good games under their belt, the players believe their rushing attack can continue to be just as effective.

“If we come out there and play our game and run it the way we can, I think that we can do about anything we want on the offensive side of the ball,” Collins said.

The offensive lineman take pride in the team’s ability to run the ball.

“The look on the dude’s face across from you when you know they know what’s happening, and they know they can’t stop you,” Harris said. “I love it.”

Collins believes that the running game is the strength of this Mountaineer team, noting that they aim to be one of the top five rushing teams in the nation.

“Running the ball is more about imposing your will on somebody,” Collins said. “That’s our identity.”

If the Mountaineers are able to run consistently with that type of success, it will likely translate into success for the entire team.

“People always talk about winning it in the trenches,” Ledford said. “A lot of teams that are successful, their trench play on both sides of the ball is really good.”

However, if the offensive line does not continue to improve, it could likely be detrimental to the team.

“Our starters have to continue to get better and better, and they’re going to have to stay healthy as well,” Satterfield said. “This offense won’t operate without a really solid offensive line.”

With a core group of leaders, the offensive line looks poised to continue improving throughout the season.

“If there’s ever a problem in practice or anything like that, all five of those guys are very vocal and trying to get practice turned the right way,” Ledford said. “Vante, Parker, Jesse, Colby and Beau. It’s five as one, so you’ve got one big group.”

If they do remain solid and if they continue to put up numbers similar to the first two games, the sky is the limit for the team.

“If we have that same success each week then we’ll win the Sun Belt,” Satterfield said. “We’ll win a bowl game.”

Story by: Colin Tate, Sports Reporter