ATHENS — David Ware has been covering Appalachian State professionally only since 2014. That’s how long he has been the publisher of AppStateMania.com, the website that is dedicated to reporting everything about the Mountaineers for the Scout/CBS Sports Digital Network.
But his association with the school and the program is much deeper than than. He is a 1990 graduate of the school, located on a picturesque campus in the lovely village of Boone, N.C.
It’s there that Ware and his wife, who he describes as “a death-penalty era SMU Mustang,” raised their two children, both of whom are now students at competing ACC schools.
Anyway, Ware will be coming to Athens this weekend to chronicle the Mountaineers’ trip to Sanford Stadium. So we’d like to welcome him as our first guest for this year’s weekly edition of “An Opposing View,” where we pick the brain of the beat writers of Georgia’s opposing team to see if we can gather some further insights.
We sent Ware five questions and asked them to answer them, then give us a prediction on what he expects to happen in Saturday’s game (6:15 p.m., SEC Network.
Here’s what Ware had to say:
1. It’s incredible to think that Jalin Moore gained more than 1,400 yards last season and he allegedly was the SECOND-best back. Tell us a little about what you’ve seen from this remarkable athlete, who Kirby Smart described as an SEC caliber running back.
Ware: “App State’s all-time leading rusher Marcus Cox (5,103 yards) would be the first to acknowledge that he and Jalin Moore were both number one backs last season. Together, their contrasting running styles made one another even more effective. But the explosive Moore is more than ready for the prime-time role. In six career games where Moore stepped in for an injured Cox as the primary ball carrier he averaged 159.8 yards per game and 6.2 yards per carry. Yeah, Jalin Moore definitely has skills!”
2. I’ve heard some great things about Boone, N.C., and that campus and heard “The Rock” rocks pretty good for home games. What can you tell us about the App State campus and the school?
Ware: “Boone is an incredibly scenic town at 3,333-foot elevation with a ton of breathtaking views and outdoor activities. The entire area centers around Appalachian State, both economically and culturally. But nothing brings the community together like a football Saturday in Kidd Brewer Stadium. Last season, App State led the nation in average attendance relative to seating capacity, at 108.7%.
“Another common misconception is that App State is a “small school,” coming from our teachers-college roots. But with nearly 17,000 undergraduates, the university is on par with many Power 5 schools, like Clemson and Georgia Tech.”
3. Obviously Taylor Lamb has a lot of Georgia ties. What’s your thoughts on him as a quarterback and where he fits in the App State football legacy?
Ware: “Taylor Lamb does the one thing you value more from a quarterback than anything else – win. He has started 36 consecutive games (and he doesn’t slide at contact), has a three-year 20-4 Sun Belt record, and helped lead App State to a perfect bowl record. The MVP of last year’s Camellia Bowl, Lamb accounted for 15 of App State’s 25 first downs in the win either throwing or running. Lamb goes about his business quietly and will always defer credit to others, but with 19 touchdown passes this season he would become the Sun Belt’s all-time leader. Lamb is already an all-timer at App State and everything he’s accomplished has come exclusively against FBS-level schedules.”
4. We know it’s the 10th anniversary App State’s incredible upset over Michigan. What did that win mean to the program and why haven’t the Mountaineers been able to pull off another one since?
Ware: “The Michigan win was not only huge for the football program, but the university as a whole. Relative to football, it certainly raised awareness with recruits and enabled App State to broaden their traditional recruiting footprint. That win is the ‘Where were you when …’ moment for Mountaineer fans from that era, and an unforgettable moment for everyone on the sideline that day.
“Of course, when you earn the label of giant-killer, then, it sets a new level of expectations for the program, which leads to your second question. First, it’s REALLY hard to beat perennial powerhouse P5 programs, even for other P5 programs. Still, App State has produced other gut-wrenching moments over the years, including SEC opponents.
- 1985: South Carolina 20 – App State 13
- 1999: Auburn 22 – App State 15
- 2016: Tennessee 20 – App State 13 (OT)
“As we learned in the Michigan win and saw again at Tennessee to open last season, things have to fall just right for an upset of this magnitude to occur. But, App State has been a program that has put themselves in positions to create that ‘just right’ outcome on multiple occasions. That’s a fact that I’m sure hasn’t escaped the notice of Georgia’s coaching staff.”
5. Haven’t heard as much about App’s defense. What can you tell us about it and how it might match up with Georgia’s offense?
Ware: “Over the past two seasons App State’s defense allowed just 18.5 points per game, eighth best in FBS, and had the nation’s top performing red-zone defense. The first thing most notice is that the Mountaineer front seven is small, especially relative to SEC standards. It’s completely by design, as App State values suddenness and speed over bulk and length up front. They will force offensive linemen to move and make decisions quickly. They are also one of the few programs running a true 3-4 scheme, so offenses can struggle to identify match-ups and blitzes out of the set. The Mountaineer defense is fast from front to back and relies on a swarming gang-tackle mentality.”
“The first thing to know is that everyone in App State’s locker room expects to win this game. There’s no way they would walk into any locker room during any week of the season without that belief.
“These are two teams that want to play the same way – both thrive around a 60/40 run-to-pass ratio, control the clock, prefer vertical passing, attack defensively at the line of scrimmage, and produce plus-turnover results.
“App State showed last season they can match SEC physicality, but the challenge Saturday will be to also match the athleticism and experienced depth Georgia will utilize. If App State’s execution offensively and discipline defensively are there, then the Mountaineers could be in that ‘just right’ situation again.”