Sept. 16, 2009

By Adam Caparell

It's been six seasons since Appalachian State last started a year with an 0-2 record, but that's the reality facing head coach Jerry Moore and his players as they enter their bye week.

After a season opening loss to East Carolina, Appalachian State returned home to host McNeese State in a matchup of two top 25 teams last weekend. And thanks to some sloppy play, McNeese's five point victory marked just the third home opening loss in Moore's 21-year head coaching tenure at Appalachian State.

Whether the culprit was a porous pass defense or too many mistakes, two of the big reasons Moore believes Appalachian State lost, the coach pointed the finger in two directions: himself and his players.

"When you start going through stuff like this it almost sounds like excuses. They're not excuses," Moore said. "They're just things we need to correct."

Moore said a lack of preparation by the coaching staff, coupled with the Mountaineers' inability to "answer the bell" has put Appalachian State in an early hole.

"We've played two good football teams," Moore said. "We weren't very consistent. We got off to a little bit of a sluggish start."

While the defense allowed 522 yards of offense to McNeese, the Mountaineers offense - led by QB Armanti Edwards - was in fine form.

Edwards, making his first appearance of the season after missing the opener with an injured foot, racked up 307 yards of total offense and two touchdowns. Not bad considering Edwards has only practiced three times since the Mountaineers met Richmond for the FCS national title last December.

It appears Moore's concerns for Edwards can be put to rest after the coach was uneasy about his star QB's conditioning entering last week. But while Edwards' performance allows Moore to worry about one less thing, the coach is concerned about the McNeese State loss festering for the next two weeks.

"Lot of times you don't like to have an open date, particularly after a loss," Moore said. You have to live with that thing for two weeks. (But) It's probably coming at a pretty good time for us."

The positive side - if you can call it that - of Saturday's loss was that it came against a non-conference opponent.

"We're 0-0, we haven't played one conference game," Edwards was quoted after the game. "This game didn't hurt, we lost on [our] own turf and that hurts, but at the same time it doesn't hurt us."

The loss dropped Appalachian State to No. 10 in The Sports Network FCS poll and No. 9 in the AFCA poll. But when the Mountaineers host Southern Conference foe Samford Sept. 28, it will mark the 54th straight week they find themselves in the top 10. 

Hits Keep Coming: The upsets didn't stop in Week 2 as another FCS program upended an FBS foe.

This time around it was New Hampshire's turn as the Wildcats traveled to Muncie, Ind. and came away with a 23-16 victory over Ball State.

"I think that we're not as far away as you think you are at times from the I-A schools," UNH coach Sean McDonnell said. "We have some outstanding talent."

Beating an FBS team is nothing new for UNH. The win over Ball State marked the fourth year in a row the Wildcats have beaten a higher division foe and the fifth in six years. UNH has knocked off Rutgers (`04), Northwestern ('06), Marshall '07) and Army ('08).

McDonnell believes, among other reasons, that the changes in offenses and defenses, and the trend toward teams becoming more reliant on athletic ability (i.e. spread offenses) rather than simply overpowering opponents on the line, have allowed the lower division schools to be much more competitive

"With the way that our guys want to step up to this challenge at the I-AA level, I think it makes it a different game right now," McDonnell said.

But the drama wasn't reserved for UNH as there were a few other high profile close calls last weekend.

Florida State, who debuted in the top 25 of both the Coaches and AP polls, needed a dramatic fourth quarter comeback at home to hand pesky Jacksonville State a 19-9 defeat. And James Madison took Maryland to overtime after the Terps found themselves trailing in the second half. Maryland pulled it out thanks to a field goal in the first overtime.

Prairie View A&M and Weber State also had upset bids in their respective matchups against New Mexico State and Colorado State, respectively.

Four FCS teams have defeated FBS schools this season. Villanova, Richmond and William & Mary were the underdog winners in Week 1.

Blatantly Offensive: That was not a misprint in Sunday's paper.

Stephen F. Austin did, in fact, score 92 points Saturday in their dismantling of Texas College. The Jacks racked up an astounding 603 yards of total offense against the NAIA school as they opened up with four touchdowns in the first quarter.

But if you think those were record breaking numbers by the Jacks, think again.

In fact, Stephen F. Austin needed a few more scores to come close to the all-time mark.

The record for most points scored by a team belongs to Portland State who racked up 105 against Delaware State in 1980. The Vikings scored 15 touchdowns and 15 PATs compared to Stephen F. Austin's 13 TDs, 12 PATs and one safety.

Week 3's Top Games:

No. 25 Harvard at No. 23 Holy Cross - Sat., 1 pm
Big New England matchup with the loser likely dropping out of the rankings.

Idaho State at No. 13 Weber State - Sat., 8:05 pm
Weber is 0-2 on the season. 0-3 would be disastrous.