Let’s Get it Started in Here

By Craig R. Turner
Published: September 6, 2013

Like most of you, I’ve been anxiously awaiting the beginning of the 2013 football season for ten months ever since the Aggies walked off the field last November beating the Eagles in of North Carolina Central for the first time in many a moon last November on their home turf.

Finishing the season at 7-4 and in the upper division of the MEAC last season only teased the A&T fan base and that translated into nearly doubling season ticket sales over last year, alumni giving is up 25 percent.

Aggie Athletic Foundation giving levels are way up and the demand for premium tailgating and parking permits out in front of Aggie Stadium flew off the shelves as soon as they were put on sale despite some hefty price tags.

Student enrollment is up, applications are up, public support is cropping up in places as far west as Waynesville and as far east as Manteo through electronic media commercials or billboards..

In other words, the word has gotten out that Rod Broadway has the Aggie back playing winning football and quickly moving up the ladder within the MEAC. A&T fans have good reason to be upbeat,

The APR restrictions that hamstrung the football program three years have now been lifted, practice restrictions are gone, the Aggies are now putting out the maximum of 85 players on the field, and perhaps the most important fact,

Coach Broadway has kept his same staff together and added veteran head coach and offensive coordinator Rickey Bustle from the FBS ranks to help boost a “Plain Jane” offense into something that hopefully will mirror the performance of the second ranked defense in all of the FCS.

This has been one of the most interesting and talked about football preseason watches that I can remember in quite a while. Its not that anyone is expecting some kind of miracle season but it’s the direction of the program which is on a steady climb upward,

It is being painstakingly being built from the ground up without using the quick fix transfer short cut, a heavy dose of academic integrity being infused into mix, and the recruitment of high character kids with sound study habits.

Just looking at the jump in the APR since Broadway’s arrival and the corresponding increase in wins tells us we’re on the right path to long term stability and being a consistent winner and Yearly challenger not only for the MEAC crown but also for post season play in the very near future.

Aggie fans will be coming back to Aggie Stadium in numbers this year with the expectation of winning and that certainly is beginning to make Saturdays in the fall something really special again.

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This Week’s Game – N.C. A&T at App State; Boone, NC – kickoff at 6 p.m.

Don’t let anyone tell you that A&T is shy about starting their season with a real test despite the noise that was being generated just west of Greensboro up until last night. Appalachian State up until two years ago pretty much had a stranglehold on the FCS playoffs and the national championship picture.

The Mountaineers have now decided that it was to the advantage to move up a level and leave the Southern conference and to join the FBS Sun Belt conference for 2014 to garner their share of the TV revenue and bowl payouts.

Longtime Coach Jerry Moore was pretty much forced out the door last winter, partly because of his age, at 73, but more so because he publically expressed some doubts and concerns on the wisdom of such a move.

Moore wondered out loud could the Apps reasonably achieve success battling the likes of Alabama, Florida State, Georgia, Clemson and the likes of these kinds regional non conference foes as well as long established D-1 mid majors in the Sun Belt.

So enter ASU offensive coordinator Scott Satterwhite as the new head coach who made his debut at FCS powerhouse Montana last week on the road and was treated very rudely as the Grizzlies soundly thumped ASU 30-6.

The Apps didn’t look anywhere near their normal selves either offensively or defensively in that loss and frankly appeared to be manhandled physically up front and were pretty bruised up when they flew back. In other words, they were only average.

I don’t expect a similar performance out of ASU this week in their home opener but it has raised a question not only in my mind but also in those of their fans and sports writers that this Appalachian squad just might not be the world beaters they were two short years ago. For sure still a very good team but just not invincible.

It’s a year of transition for them, not eligible for the SoCon crown, in the national polls or playoff consideration so one has to ask what do you play for? What is their motivation? I can’t tell you what I may be for the season but their motivation this week is not to lose to A&T in their home opener and to use the Aggies as a tune-up for the SoCon schedule.

Taking that attitude might be a big mistake for them. This is not the A&T team that App rolled over in 2011 by a 58-6 score. If the Mountaineers come in with that kind of attitude against this 2013 Aggie team, they will be literally fighting for their lives. This is not your old A&T.

I suspect this game will be close and who ever plays the best defense and can run the football consistently will have a huge advantage come the fourth quarter. Knowing what ASU will do is pretty obvious since Satterwhite hasn’t done anything differently than he’s have done in the past.

No one knows what A&T’s offense will look like but that will make things interesting and both teams will be conservative. ASU, because they will have a few players out and are a little banged up from their trip out west and A&T simply because it’s their first game and no fifth year senior Lewis Kindle at QB for the opener.

I give the edge to App because the game is being played up on “the Mountain” which is a tough place to get a win if you’re the visitor but not by as much or as easy as people may think.

ASU needs to keep that in mind and had better catch themselves from looking ahead. This is a very good A&T squad that has an attitude. Just ask D-2 power WSSU about what happens when you do overlook an opponent with an attitude with little to lose.

PREDICTION

App State – 23

N.C. A&T – 14