Appalachian St Mountaineers 2023 College Football Preview
July 6, 2023
Record – 6-6
ATS – 3-9
What a turn of events.
The Mountaineers started the season in good form. They lost a heartbreaker to North Carolina in the season opener (L 63-61) but followed that up with a win at Texas A&M (!) and a last second victory over Troy. An inexplicable loss to Texas St (L 36-24) proved to be a HARBINGER of things to come as Appalachian St lost three of their final four games to finish the regular season at 6-6.
Appalachian St Mountaineers 2023 Outlook
The offense was just fine last season as they ranked #3 in the Sun Belt in rushing offense, #4 in passing offense, and #2 in terms of SCORING the FOOTBALL (34.9 PPG, best since 2019). There’s a big gap to fill at QB given the departure of Chase Brice (2,921, 27-6 TD to INT LY) and they’ll roll with last year’s backup Ryan Burger (6 career pass attempts) or JUCO transfer Joey Aguilar. The skill positions are in great shape as the RB room returns two of their top-four including leading rusher Nate Noel (604, 6 TD, 6.9) and the WR unit brings back their top-four (!) targets. They also add a pair of interesting transfer bodies to the mix. It’s a bit of a mixed bag up front as they lose both of their excellent starting tackles, but they hope to replace those snaps with some Power 5 transfer portal pick-ups.
The Mountaineers were unusually soft on defense LY as they allowed 26.8 PPG (#67 FBS) which was their worst performance since 2014 (!). They were particularly weak vs the THROW GAME and couldn’t get off the field on 3rd downs (42%, #100). This season they only retain three of their top-14 (!) tacklers and four starters. Only one starter is back up front but they’ve added a pair of Power 5 transfers to the mix (Michigan St, Rutgers). LB Andrew Parker (#2 tackler LY) is a good piece to build around but they lost of lot of players at this position including NFL-bound LB Nick Hampton (9.5 TFL LY). Safety Nick Ross led the team in tackles LY but they’ve gotta reload at CB. They’ll miss CB Steven Jones (15 PBU) but it appears as tho they did a good job strengthening that position via the transfer portal.
Things look promising. PK Michael Hughes is back for duty (9-12 FG LY) and KR Milan Tucker has proven to be a dangerous KR (28.2, TD). They need to replace punter Clayton Howell but that’s probably a good thing as the Mountaineers were poor in that department LY (#125 punt avg, #121 net punting).
Overall – The list of assignments is very reasonable. They only have one “killer” game in non-conference action (at UNC) and get a good draw from the West (S Miss, ULM). Added bonus incoming. They duel with both Coastal Carolina and Marshall at home.
Potential ATS Trouble Spot – at Wyoming (Sept 23)
The Mountaineers have to travel out west to face the physical Cowboys just before conference play begins.
Season Win Total
Market consensus July 6
Over 6.5 -120
Under 6.5 +100
They’ll pick up two or three wins before FUN BELT play commences and they’re definitely capable of winning four or five conference games.
Last season marked the first time that Appalachian St had failed to book a winning record since joining the FBS in 2014. They went 4-8 in their final season as an FCS program in 2013.
Five of their six losses last season were by seven points or less.
The Mountaineers appear ready to put last season behind them and contend for divisional and conference hardware. We don’t have a WARM AND FUZZY feeling about the QB situation, and there are a lot of new faces on defense, but we still view these guys as a major contender to take down the East division. A conference title may be out of the question as the roster isn’t as seasoned as we’d like to see. Go get ’em!