Appalachian State University has a quarterback that threw for 2,000 yards and rushed for 1,000 yards last year.

This year? They benched him.

Thus is the talent of the ASU Mountaineers, a team that is playing host to the University of Maine at 2 p.m. today in the second round of the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.

Both teams are 8-3.

“Physically, we are probably similar,” Maine coach Jack Cosgrove said. “Now, do we have their skill level? That’s the question.”

For skill, ASU features a talented foursome that has the Mountaineers averaging 30 points and 401 yards per game.

• Quarterback Jamal Jackson became the starter over the past six games. He can throw or scramble. In ASU’s final game, he passed for 284 yards and rushed for 40.

• Receiver Brian Quick, 6-foot-5, 220 pounds, has caught 64 passes for 1,055 yards and 11 touchdowns.

• Running back Travaris Cadet has rushed for 655 yards but also has caught 30 passes for 285 yards.

• DeAndre Presley, the one-time starting quarterback who now plays several positions — flanker, cornerback, kick returner.

“Now he’s everywhere, giving everybody headaches,” Cosgrove said.

Despite Presley’s accomplishments last year, ASU coach Jerry Moore was not pleased about this year’s offense.

“We weren’t hitting on all cylinders,” Moore said of the Mountaineers’ 3-2 start. “Then Andre bruised his shoulder. Jamal got his opportunity and played really well.”

So well that when Presley was recovered, he did not get his job back. He said he would play anywhere, and the ASU coaches took him up on the offer.

And the Mountaineers look like they’re purring along.

“Theirs is an offense with great speed and athleticism,” Cosgrove said. “That has us concerned.”

The Mountaineers’ defense has not necessarily shined, allowing 23 points and 343 yards per game, although a 66-13 season-opening loss to Virginia Tech skews the statistics a little.

Maine again will rely on the arm of quarterback Warren Smith and running back Pushaun Brown. While Brown has been hobbled by a sore thigh, he has had two weeks to heal because of last week’s bye.

Maine beat Appalachian State, 14-13 in Boone, in the 2002 playoffs. Cosgrove calls that a “fond memory” but it won’t help his players prepare today.

“That was too long ago,” Cosgrove said. “And we’re different teams. We were a power I-formation then, and they were very tailback-oriented.”

Now ASU uses a spread offense, while Maine tries for a balance of pass and run out of the shotgun.

Look for the Black Bears to try to run a controlled offense to eat up the clock and keep the Mountaineers’ offense off the field. Look for ASU to try to break open big plays, and get the expected crowd of 20,000 fired up.

The Mountaineers have won 48 of their past 51 homes games.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.