BOONE — Appalachian State’s football team already clinched the East Division championship of the Sun Belt Conference. There are still other things to play for when the Mountaineers play at Troy at 6 p.m. on Nov. 29.
Appalachian State (10-1, 6-1 Sun Belt) needs to beat Troy to ensure that the conference championship game will be played in Boone. The Mountaineers are competing with Louisiana (9-2, 6-1), which leads the West Division, for that honor.
A win from the Mountaineers gives App State the game since they beat Louisiana 17-7 during the regular season. A loss by Louisiana also guarantees the game will be in Boone.
An Appalachian State loss coupled with a Louisiana win gives the Ragin Cajuns the home game for the championship game.
“We’ve talked about not being done yet,” Drinkwitz said. “Yet is a powerful word. There’s more still to occur and we’re not there yet. We’re still focused on what we need to do, which is to be 1-0 and hold the home field advantage.”
Troy’s offense, particularly through the air, could provide the problems for the Mountaineers. Troy averages 35.7 points and 314.0 passing yards per game.
Drinkwitz compared Troy quarterback Kaleb Barker to North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell in arm strength and accuracy.
Barker is leading a Troy offense that averages 466.9 yards per game. He also has thrown for 3,347 yards, 30 touchdowns and has completed 65.6 percent of his passes.
His favorite target is Kaylon Geiger, who has 74 receptions for 846 yards and five touchdowns. Kahalil McClain has caught 41 passes for 504 yards and a team-high seven touchdowns.
“They are a tempo-based style of offense,” Drinkwitz said. “Kaleb Barker is the toughest quarterback we’ve faced from a throwing standpoint all season. He makes great reads.”
Drinkwitz also cautions that Troy is a physical offense that averages 152.9 yards per game. Leading the Trojans’ running game is D.K. Billingsley, who has gained 887 yards and scored nine touchdowns this season.
Drinkwitz said Troy, which has used a physical running scheme in the past, still has a physical offense.
“They still run the football,” Drinkwitz said. “They are a physical football team.”
Appalachian State’s offense has been dynamic on its own, although the Mountaineers will have to play without receiver Corey Sutton, who tore an ACL in App State’s 35-13 win over Texas State.
App State has plenty of receivers it can turn to, especially Malik Williams, Thomas Hennigan and Keishawn Watson, who caught a touchdown pass against Texas State.
The Mountaineers also can move the ball using a running game that features Darrynton Evans, who has gained 1,168 yards and has scored 14 touchdowns this season. Marcus Williams Jr. has added 479 yards and four touchdowns this season.