Five Keys to Beating Appalachian State – From the Bird’s Nest
It's gonna be a good one.
Louisiana (10-2) takes on #20 Appalachian State (11-1) for the Sun Belt Championship Saturday at Kidd-Brewer Stadium in Boone, NC. Kickoff is at 11 am and will be televised on ESPN.
Appalachian State won the regular season game 17-7 and has won all seven meetings against the Cajuns. If that trend is going to end, look for these things.
LEVI'S COMING---The biggest difference in the Cajuns' offense since the first meeting is the emergence of Louisiana quarterback Levi Lewis as a real weapon. In the final six games, all Cajuns' wins, Lewis has completed 67.5% of his passes for 1341 yards and eleven touchdowns, with just one interception. He's also emerged as a threat to run, although he still doesn't run a lot. He didn't have a very good game against the Mountaineers the first time around. He needs to be much better this week. And, I think he will be.
SECOND VERSE, SAME AS THE FIRST--Darrynton Evans is the Sun Belt Conference Offensive Player of the Year for a reason. He's good. Really good. But the Cajuns held him under four yards per carry in the first meeting and his longest run from scrimmage was only eleven yards. Louisiana will need a repeat performance in that regard. If you're going to have a chance to beat the Mountaineers, you have to contain this guy.
MAKE IT A SPECIAL SATURDAY--The Cajuns also shut out Evans in the return game in the first meeting. App had one punt return for -1 yards and their only kickoff return went for eleven. We saw what Evans can do in the return game last December. The Louisiana special teams have been, overall, the league's best in the second half of the season. Cover kicks, make kicks. Rinse and repeat.
BE PREPARED--You have to expect the offensive game plan for App State will be different this time around. Zac Thomas threw for just 147 yards in the first meeting, and 47 of them came on one play (to the injured Corey Sutton.) I'm expecting the Mountaineers to open things up, especially playing at home. The Cajuns have to be ready for just about anything.
PRESSURE AND CONTAIN--Zac Thomas hurt the Cajuns with his legs last time around. Some of that came on the zone read, but some of that came because of his scrambling ability. The Cajuns' defense needs to be aggressive, but it needs to be controlled aggression. When Thomas goes back to throw, keep him in the pocket.
See you on the mountain.