By Tim Chambers
It’s not often that I preview anything outside of Johnson County sports, but one college football game in 2016 has certainly grabbed my attention.
Appalachian State will travel to Tennessee on September 1 to battle the Vols in their Thursday night season opener and Johnson County residents should keep a close watch on this one.
Kickoff is set for 7 pm and the game can be watched on the SEC Network.
The Vols have been the media darlings thus far and many prognosticators are picking them to win the SEC East and challenge for a major bowl berth and possibly the national title.
Appy had been tabbed to win the Sunbelt Conference and could have its best team since 2013 after leaving the FCS when it was a superpower back in the late 2000s.
Their surge back to elite status began in 2014 when they finished with a record of 7-5. Last year they elevated that to 11-2, losing only to Clemson who got to the national title game and Arkansas State that ended the season unbeaten in the Sun Belt.
The Mountaineers are coming off a win over Ohio in the Camellia Bowl and they appear much stronger in 2016.
The team is led on offense by quarterback Taylor Lamb and running back Marcus Cox, both preseason all conference selections. They also return the bulk of their line which should allow Cox to log some big numbers on the ground.
The defense returns nine starters off a squad that finished 11th in the nation last season.
Linebackers Eric Boggs and John Law return after finishing as the team’s top tacklers last year.
But do they have enough talent on the field to play with Tennessee?
The key to a successful season for the Vols will start with the run game.
Quarterback Joshua Dobb along with running backs Jalen Hurd and Alvin Kamara will create holy havoc for opponents.
Hurd needs only 802 yards to become Tennessee’s all time leading rusher. He ran for 1288 yards last season, averaging 4.7 yards per carry with 12 touchdowns.
For the rest of the story, pick up a copy of this week’s Tomahawk.