In the 100 days leading up to the kickoff of the college football season on Saturday, Aug. 25, HERO Sports is ranking the top 100 teams in the FBS. Each day, starting May 17 and ending Aug. 24, a new team is revealed in the HERO Sports Top 100.
[divider]RANKINGS: Top 100 FBS Teams for 2018
TRIVIA: Daily CFB Trivia Question
MORE: Best FBS Player for Each Jersey Number
MORE: Best FCS Player for Each Jersey Number[divider]
No. 62 Appalachian State
App State lost a ton of high-end talent. Taylor Lamb, Cobly Gossett, Bean Nunn, Tee Sims and several other all-conference players are gone.
App State returns a ton of high-end talent. Jalin Moore, Victor Johnson, Clifton Duck, Tae Hayes and several others are back for a team that will contend for a third straight Sun Belt title.
2017 Record: 9-4 (7-1, Sun Belt)
App State failed to win 10 games for the first time in three years but they still won nine games, the third-highest total in the program's FBS history.
Their three non-Georgia losses came by 11 total points, including a brutal defeat to ULM in which the Mountaineers led in the second half and gave up a 50-yard go-ahead touchdown with 23 seconds remaining. The loss ultimately cost them an outright Sun Belt title.
Head Coach: Scott Satterfield (6th Year, 41-22)
Scott Satterfield led App State's FBS transition and has won 30 games over the last three years (losing three total conference games over that time) yet is rarely mentioned as one of the best coaches in the country and a potential Power Five candidate.
I. Do. Not. Get It.
While Satterfield loves coaching at his alma mater (in his home state) and has spent all but three years of his 21-year coaching career at App State, it's baffling that he's not mentioned for bigger jobs. He may not be interested but still, his success is undeniable.
QB Taylor Lamb, WR Ike Lewis, OT Beau Nunn, G Colby Gossett, DE Tee Sims, DE Caleb Fuller, LB Eric Boggs, LB Devan Stringer, S A.J. Howard
Four-year starting quarterback Taylor Lamb is the headline-grabbing loss but almost every other position group lost high-end talent. Lamb's favorite target, Ike Lewis, is gone after a breakout senior year, and they lose two of the conference's best offensive linemen in Beau Nunn and Colby Gossett.
Defensively, the front seven was gutted. Former JUCO transfer Tee Sims had 16.5 sacks over his last two years and Eric Boggs had more than 300 tackles over the last three years.
Returning Offensive Players
QB Zac Thomas, RB Jalin Moore, WR Thomas Hennigan, WR Malik Williams, WR Jalen Virgil, TE Collin Reed, OT Victor Johnson,
For the first time as an FBS program, App State enters a season without Taylor Lamb as its starting quarterback. For four years, Lamb led an offense that often lacked in flash but had plenty of consistency and balance that wore down opponents.
Last year's backup, Zac Thomas, was the favorite entering spring practice and after practice wrapped, Satterfield said the 6-foot-2, 207-pound sophomore "might have a leg up" on the competition. While Satterfield stopped short of naming a starter — and did say "it'll be a good competition this summer as we head into August camp" — it seems like Thomas is the guy.
Thomas only has eight career pass attempts but he'll have an experienced backfield in senior Jalin Moore (below) and sophomore Marcus Williams. Moore, the 2016 Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year, had his second straight 1,000-yard season despite battling a foot injury for months.
Ike Lewis was their leading receiver but they return both high-end talent and depth. Thomas Hennigan was spectacular as a true freshman, averaging 13 yards per reception and nearly one touchdown every six catches in 13 starters.
“I went and watched him play live the day after we lost to Tennessee — I was as disappointed as you could be,” receivers coach Justin Watts recalled of a visit to Northwest Guilford High School in Greensboro, N.C., to see Hennigan in 2016. “Sitting there and watching him, I called coach Satterfield from there about midway through the first quarter and said, ‘This kid is really, really good.’ By the end of the game, I had called coach Satterfield about 12 times. I just said, ‘Coach, there’s something different about this kid.’”
Two other freshmen, Malik Williams (true) and Jalen Virgil (redshirt) also started and delivered some big plays. Virgil averaged more than 18 yards per reception. The already-strong group is bolstered by a couple Kansas State transfers (below in Player Additions).
Satterfield hasn't hidden his depth concerns for an offensive line that allowed the Mountaineers to averaged 5.9 yards and 5.5 yards per carry in 2016 and 2017, respectively. They lost three starters and only six of their 19 offensive linemen are juniors and seniors, led by blind-side protector Victor Thomas.
Returning Defensive Players
NT Myquon Stout, LB Anthony Flory, LB Akeem Davis-Gaither, CB Clifton Duck, CB Tae Hayes, S Desmond Franklin, S Josh Thomas
App State applied more pressure (sack rate of 6.3 in 2016 improved to 8.6 in 2017), forced more turnovers (1.7 to 2.2) and allowed just four yards per rushing attempt. However, they were worse on third downs (33.3 to 35.1) and fourth downs (21.8 to 55.6) and in the red zone (73 percent to 82.1 percent). And their opponents' points per play went up from 0.26 to 0.31.
It was more of an odd year than anything else, especially given they allowed 111 total points over a three-game midseason stretch before allowing just 30 over the final four games. Defensive coordinator Nate Woody left for Georgia Tech, prompting Satterfield to name cornerbacks Bryan Brown as coordinator and inside linebackers coach Dale Jones as co-coordinator. There won't be many schematic changes under the two long-time App State assistants.
The star of the unit is ball-hawking corner Clifton Duck (below). The junior had three picks vs. New Mexico State and six on the season, bumping his two-year career total to 11. He has the ninth-lowest passer rating among returning FBS corners.
“Guys that can attack instead of staying back on their heels can process things more quickly,” Woody said last year. “Duck is an athletic, skilled player. We could tell early on that he went through the decision-making process quickly. He is always in the right place at the right time."
Alongside Duck are three other upperclassmen, including All-Sun Belt Second-Team corner Tae Hayes. It's the best corner duo in the conference and one of the best in the entire country.
Both starting outside linebackers — Rashaad Townes and Devan Stringer — are gone, as is tackling machine Eric Boggs in the middle, leaving senior Anthony Flory as the only returning starter. Coaches praised junior Akeem Davis-Gaither throughout spring practice.
WR Corey Sutton, WR Dominique Heath, CB Shaun Jolly
Corey Sutton became known as the "guy whose transfer was blocked by Bill Snyder" but he's also a heck of a receiver oozing with potential. Both he and Dominique Heath (grad transfer) arrived from Kansas State and are in line for big snaps.
"Corey is an excellent route runner, but he understands football and understands what we're trying to do and what Coach Satterfield is trying to do with the play call," said in February.
Elsewhere, keep an eye on redshirt freshman corner Shaun Jolly. He won't play much behind Duck and Hayes but watch the few snaps he does get because he should start in 2019 when Hayes graduates and Duck (likely) leaves for the NFL.
App State's schedule is one of homestands and road trips. They open with two road games (including their first-ever game vs. Penn State), have three straight home games and play three straight road games later in the season.
|Saturday, Sept. 1||at Penn State|
|Saturday, Sept. 8||at Charlotte|
|Saturday, Sept. 15||vs. Southern Miss|
|Saturday, Sept. 22||vs. Garnder-Webb|
|Saturday, Sept. 29||vs. South Alabama|
|Tues, Oct. 9||at Arkansas State|
|Saturday, Oct. 20||vs. Louisiana|
|Thursday, Oct. 25||at Georgia Southern|
|Saturday, Nov. 3||at Coastal Carolina|
|Saturday, Nov. 10||at Texas State|
|Saturday, Nov. 17||vs. Georgia State|
|Saturday, Nov. 24||vs. Troy|