Reading the defense

App State quarterback Zac Thomas (12), H-back Collin Reed (87) and center Noah Hannon (60) read the Troy defense last season.

BOONE — Appalachian State is counting down to its first game of the season.

The Mountaineers are getting closer to Aug. 31, the day when they host East Tennessee State and start the 2019 campaign. Head coach Eliah Drinkwitz has noticed a increase in intensity of the Mountaineers’ practices.

So far, East Tennessee State isn’t necessarily the reason why.

“I think we’re playing faster,” Drinkwitz said. “We’ve got a better understanding of the schemes and the guys are playing faster and more physical.”

Drinkwitz said the game plan for the East Tennessee State game has already been developed, but won’t be revealed to the team until Aug. 22.

“You can tell when people miss assignments,” Drinkwitz said. “You can tell when they are not executing and you can tell when you execute, so I’m not so tied up about who we go up against, but I’m tied up in execution.”

Drinkwitz, who is also the Mountaineers’ offensive coordinator, likes the tempo of the offense. During 11-on-11 drills in practice on Aug. 14, with the offense backed to its goal line, the Mountaineers connected on a 20-yard pass and broke another run into the secondary to get out of bad field position.

On the flipside, the defense recovered a fumble at the goal line.

“They’re still learning more, but they’re getting up to game speed,” Drinkwitz said. “I don’t know if it’s because the first game is coming, or if we’re just practicing better.”

Drinkwitz said he was happy with how App State’s quarterbacks are reading and executing the plays. He said the quarterbacks check with him after every set of plays to make sure they are seeing the play develop correctly, and if they saw something that the coaches maybe did not notice that made the play work.

“I’ve been impressed with the way (starting quarterback) Zac (Thomas) is coachable,” Drinkwitz said. “I’ve been impressed with the way Zac sees the field and makes plays. He does a good job of creating and making something I didn’t see and then I’ll look back and see it was a great decision.”

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