BOONE — After two games, the Appalachian State football team already faces a bye weekend.
The Mountaineers, which beat Charlotte 56-41 on Sept. 7 afternoon, gets an extra week to not only fix what went wrong against the 49ers, but to get ready for their Sept. 21 game at North Carolina.
The first three days of the week were spent taking care of problems that arose on both sides of the ball against Charlotte. Drinkwitz said the Mountaineers (2-0) would then focus on North Carolina (2-0) on Sept. 12. The Tar Heels are coming off a 28-25 win over Miami and play Wake Forest on Sept. 13.
“We’re going to get the young guys a lot of reps,” Drinkwitz said. “We’ll look at lot of those twos and threes and try to get those guys up to speed. The first two days are all about us and then Thursday it will be about UNC and we’ll get started on that.”
The coaching staff will try to fix what went wrong with Appalachian State’s defense, which allowed 526 yards of total offense to Charlotte. The 41 points are the most the Mountaineers have allowed to a group of five program since 2017 when Louisiana-Monroe beat App State 52-45.
Penn State, a Big 10 program, beat App State 45-38 in overtime in 2018.
“We didn’t do a great job in the second half of tackling,” Drinkwitz said. “We didn’t do a great job of playing the ball in the air. We had two deep (passes) that beat us over the head and we had a holding penalty. Those are the things we can correct and what we’ll work on for this game.”
Drinkwitz would also like the defense to do a better job stopping big plays. He felt App State played well in the first half, but Charlotte quarterback Chase Reynolds connected on three scoring passes that went for more than 20 yards in the second half and running back Benny LeMay scored on a 58-yard run in the second quarter.
“We’ve got to eliminate the big, explosive play,” Drinkwitz said. “We gave up six explosive runs and eight explosive passes. Those are things we can correct and we will.”
Offensively, App State running back Darrynton Evans gained 239 yards on just 19 carries, but Drinkwitz was not happy with the 18 penalties the Mountaineers committed, both offensively and defensively.
He would also like to see the App State offensive line protect quarterback Zac Thomas better.
“We gave up some pressures, so we’ve got to get to it and make sure we correct those,” Drinkwitz said.
The week off also allows the Mountaineers a chance to get some practice reps to the players lower on the depth chart. He said the starters will get their share of reps, but he would like to use the extra practice time to get more players prepared to step into a game if they are needed.
It also allows some starters to rest after the two weeks of contact.
“When we focus on the developmental guys instead of the ones and twos, they usually get 80 snaps in practice,” Drinkwitz said. “They may get 30 so we can let their bodies recover a bit, but we still want to get that game speed so we’re not rusty.
Drinkwitz said that playing an in-state ACC school, such as North Carolina, did not draw the players’ attention from the Mountaineers’ first two games. He said the Mountaineers took each of their first two games seriously based on their own merits and were not focused on the looming North Carolina showdown.
“The thing about this year’s schedule is every game has some kind of significance,” Drinkwitz said. “East Tennessee State was a regional rival 50 miles down the road we used to play, so I think all of our focus was on making a strong first impression. Obviously UNC Charlotte is a game we want to win. It’s about winning the games in the state, so I think all of our focus has been on each opponent and this week our focus is on ourselves and trying to be the best we can be and continue to sharpen our sword and try to be better.”