UMass gets short prep time ahead of Appalachian State

  • Appalachian State defenders Tommy Dawkins, middle, and Eric Boggs, top, sack Coastal Carolina quarterback Tyler Keane in the second half of the Mountaineers’ 37-29 win, Saturday at Kidd Brewer Stadium in Boone, N.C. AP

  • Appalachian State quarterback Taylor Lamb celebrates after connecting with wide receiver Jalen Virgil on a second half touchdown in the Mountaineers’ 37-29 win over Coastal Carolina, Saturday at Kidd Brewer Stadium in Boone, N.C. AP

@Matt VautourDHG
Published: 10/27/2017 5:51:14 PM

AMHERST — After getting almost three weeks to prepare for Georgia Southern’s unusual offense, the UMass football team had much less time to orient itself with Appalachian State’s slightly unusual defense.

The Mountaineers play a base 3-4 defense, a system that has waned in popularity in recent seasons. UMass was using it under Tom Masella, but switched to the more popular 4-3 when Ed Pinkham took over the defense.

“We haven’t face too many 3-4 defenses. We have to spend that much more time on film. It’s going to be a challenge,” UMass quarterback Andrew Ford said. “Not only are they a 3-4, but they’re a really good 3-4. We have to be ready for the challenge.”

Time & location: 3:30 p.m. McGuirk Stadium

Records: App State is 5-2; UMass is 1-6.

Last week: UMass beat Georgia Southern, 55-20; ASU beat Coastal Carolina, 37-29.

All-time series: Appalachian State leads 1-0

TV/Internet: NESN

Radio: 105.5 FM

When Appalachian State has the ball: The Mountaineers are flush with weapons. Quarterback Taylor Lamb is coming off a 427-yard passing effort against Coastal. The veteran starter has completed 125 of 206 attempts for 1,624 yards. He’s thrown 13 touchdowns and three interceptions. His 76 career TD passes pushed him by Armanti Edwards as the program’s leader in the category. UMass fans will remember Edwards, who was terrific when the Mountaineers defeated the Minutemen in the 2006 FCS title game. Lamb needs six TD passes to become the Sun Belt’s career leader.

“Taylor Lamb is a really good quarterback. He’s a four-year starter and their all-time leading passer,” UMass coach Mark Whipple said. “He makes plays and has great skill around him. They have good skill and really good depth.”

Thomas Hennigan has been his favorite target as he leads the team in catches (32) and receiving yards (329).

Tailback Jalin Moore was the Sun Belt’s Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, but he hasn’t been as dominant this season. After leading the conference with 1,402 yards last year, he has just 449 yards on 91 carries. He’s only cracked triple digits once this season.

When UMass has the ball: Whipple wasn’t sure how he’d divvy up snaps, drives or time at quarterback after Ross Comis made the most of extended action last week. Ford is fully healthy again giving Whipple options.

Ford has thrown just two interceptions all season, but he’s clashing with an App State defense that has been effective earning takeaways. Sophomore cornerback Clifton Duck has four picks, while junior corner Tae Hayes has three.

Senior linebacker Eric Boggs leads the defense with 53 tackles.

Bilal Ally’s increased recent production, including 116 yards and three touchdowns last week, could continue to cut into Marquis Young’s workload.

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage




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