Taylor Lamb: His Time to Shine

Lee Sanderlin

As Appalachian State Football enters the 2015 season, they will do so behind second-year starting quarterback Taylor Lamb. Lamb became the starter last season, replacing Kameron Bryant, who transferred to Campbell upon season’s end.

Lamb said his mentality entering this season is much different than last.

“It’s a different role,” Lamb said. “Coming into last year I was a back-up, but still preparing as if I was the starter. This year I’m looking to take more of a leadership role.”

Lamb is part of 10 offensive starters returning from last year’s 7-5 team. Overall the team is returning 20 total starters, which is the most for any team in the nation, according to ESPN.

Lamb said returning so many starters will shorten the learning curve for the team and allow them to begin the season with momentum.

“It’s awesome whenever you get experienced guys back like that,” Lamb said. “The guys know what routes to run, the offensive line knows what calls to make, running backs know what holes to hit and it makes my job a lot easier.”

Improving in his second year might prove to be a tall order based on the success Lamb experienced in his first season under center for the Mountaineers.

Despite only starting in 10 of App State’s 12 games, Lamb threw for 2,381 yards and 17 touchdowns, setting freshman records in both categories (previously held by standout Armanti Edwards). Lamb also won the Sun Belt Conference Freshman of the year award, leading the conference with a 142.1 passer rating.

Lamb is only the second quarterback to ever lead the Sun Belt in passer rating as a freshman, with Troy’s Corey Robinson being the first in 2010.

Perhaps what makes the above-mentioned stats so impressive is the Mountaineers’ reliance on the run game, opting for a run-heavy attack that reduces the quarterback’s role in the offense.

Last season, App State averaged close to 242 rushing yards per game compared to just 219.8 through the air. The Mountaineers ran the ball 61.2 percent of the time on offense.

This makes Lambs accomplishments all the more admirable considering the run-heavy approach the offense implements. However, Lamb said he wouldn’t change the offensive approach even if he had the opportunity.

“We’re going to stick to the game plan,” Lamb said. “We’ve got a stable of backs and an offensive line that likes to go downhill. Our run game really sets up our passing, and we’re confident that we can drop back and pass it whenever we want to.”

The only area of Lamb’s game last year that didn’t seem to shine was his ability to take care of the football. Lamb threw nine interceptions to go along with his 17 touchdowns. While this is not an alarming number, it is one that Lamb looks to improve upon in 2015.

“My goals this year are to make better decisions protecting the football, getting more consistent and just making the throws I know I can make,” Lamb said. “Last season I would miss a couple, make a couple, I just want to get more consistent.”

Lamb’s toughest test will come when Appalachian travels down to Death Valley, where they will meet the No. 12 ranked Clemson Tigers on September 12. Clemson enters the season with national title hopes under head coach Dabo Swinney.

The Mountaineers are no stranger to road games against high-profile opponents, with last season’s squad making the trip to Ann Arbor, where they lost to Michigan 52-14.

Taylor Lamb made his college debut against the Wolverines, playing the second half. Lamb led the offense on a 96-yard touchdown drive against the Wolverines to open the second half, his first drive under center in his college career.

Now he returns to the national stage hoping to lead the team to many more touchdowns and ultimately a win.

Story by: Lee Sanderlin, Sports Reporter