OPPONENT: Appalachian State Mountaineers
WHEN: Saturday, November 9th
WHERE: Williams-Brice Stadium (Columbia, SC)
ALL-TIME SERIES RECORD: South Carolina leads 8-1
LAST MEETING: The Gamecocks beat App State 35-9 in 1988
2018 RECORD: 11-2 (7-1)
Report: NC State OC Eli Drinkwitz to be App State head coach https://t.co/H07bcVGGWP— FootballScoop (@FootballScoop) December 13, 2018
Mountaineer football will be under new leadership in 2019 as former NC State assistant Eli Drinkwitz takes over in Boone.
Drinkwitz replaces former HC Scott Satterfield, who bolted for the Louisville job this off-season.
Most well known for his offensive knowledge, Drinkwitz looks to make the most of his first head coaching opportunity, taking over an App State program which won 11 games a season ago.
- WR Corey Sutton (Jr.)
- Thomas Hennigan (Jr.)
- LT Victor Johnson (Sr.)
- LG Ryan Neuzil (Jr.)
- C Noah Hannon (Jr.)
- RG Baer Hunter (Jr.)
- TE Collin Reed (Sr.)
- QB Zac Thomas (Jr.)
- RB Darrynton Evans (Jr.)
- DE Elijah Diarrassouba (Jr.)
- OLB Akeem Davis-Gaither (Sr.)
- LB Jordan Fehr (Sr.)
- OLB Noel Cook (Sr.)
- S Josh Thomas (Sr.)
- S Desmond Franklin (Sr.)
How did they fare in 2018?
App State was extremely impressive as season ago, going 11-2 capped off by a blowout win over Middle Tennessee State in the New Orleans Bowl.
In typical Mountaineers fashion, ASU took Penn State to the wire in week one, going to OT before falling 45-38 in Happy Valley.
The only other loss for App came in an upset loss to its bitter rivalry, Georgia Southern, as the Eagles dominated by a final score of 34-14.
Still, it was an extremely productive year for a few Mountaineers individuals as well.
Seven Mountaineers were named All-Sun Belt, including QB Zac Thomas, who was also named Offensive POTY after throwing for over 2,000 yards and 21 TDs.
Best Returning Player…
QB Zac Thomas
Simply put, Zac Thomas is a baller.
As mentioned in the video above, Thomas got his first start since 2015 when he was in high school a year ago, nearly leading ASU to a monumental upset over Penn State in Happy Valley.
That game turned out to be a precursor of what was to come, as Thomas completed 62% of his passes while throwing for over 2,000 yards and 21 TDs in the process.
He’ll look to have an even better year in 2019, as most of his major weapons return, including standout wide receiver Corey Sutton and running back Darrynton Evans.
Should South Carolina really be on “upset alert” against App State come early November?
This game has been talked about a lot as one the Gamecocks should be careful of, citing ASU’s track record against Power 5 teams as well as their recent success in the Sun Belt.
We mentioned the plethora of offensive talent new HC Eli Drinkwitz will have to work with this fall earlier.
But what about the defense?
App returns six starters from a defense that ranked with nationally in total defense last season and just forth nationally in points allowed per game.
The Mountaineers look to be the class of the Sun Belt and should challenge once again for the conference title.
Still, the question remains: could App State really come into Columbia and shock South Carolina on their home turf?
One thing is for certain: the Mountaineers have the Gamecocks attention.
2019 SEASON PROJECTION: 10-2 (7-1)