Camellia Bowl Preview
Appalachian State Mountaineers vs Toledo Rockets
Two of the nation’s rising stars in the Group of 5 head coaching ranks meet in Montgomery for the Camellia Bowl (Play Now). Jason Candle was promoted to head coach of Toledo after Matt Campbell left to take the head-coaching job at Iowa State. The Rockets didn’t miss a beat with Candle at the controls. They finished 9-3 and averaged 38.8 points a game with an explosive offense. Running back Kareem Hunt rushed for 1,355 yards behind a standout line. Quarterback Logan Woodside threw for 43 touchdowns and 3,882 yards in his first full season as the starter. There’s no shortage of targets for Woodside in the passing game. The Rockets have four receivers with at least 38 catches.
On the other sideline, Appalachian State is back in the Camellia Bowl for the second consecutive year after finishing 9-3 behind coach Scott Satterfield. The former Appalachian State quarterback has helped this program through a quick transition to the FBS level. They’ve claimed 20 wins over the last two years. Junior Taylor Lamb (2,162 yards) is a steady leader at quarterback. The one-two punch of Jalin Moore and Marcus Cox will test a Toledo defense that has allowed 165.7 rushing yards per game in 2016. Appalachian State has a big edge on defense. They rank first in the Sun Belt in scoring (17 ppg) and yards per play (4.86 ypp).
ABOUT APPALACHIAN STATE (9-3, 7-1 Sun Belt)
Appalachian State has a second running back that’s topped 1,400 each of the last two seasons in senior Marcus Cox. He’d likely be nearing that mark again if not for a four-game absence caused by a left quadriceps injury that occurred at the end of a negated 79-yard touchdown run on September 17 against Miami. His injury opened the door for Jalin Moore to receive more playing time. The sophomore responded by rushing for at least 100 yards in eight of the last nine games. It gave the Rockets two explosive ball carriers on which to focus.
Cramton Bowl will be a familiar site for coach Scott Satterfield. Satterfield was the passing game coordinator/quarterbacks coach at Toledo in 2009. He served on the same staff as Candle, who was in his first year, as a 29-year-old slot receivers/tight ends coach. Satterfield is a likely candidate to appear in both short lists to replace coaches at higher-profile programs such as Cincinnati and Indiana.
ABOUT TOLEDO (9-3, 6-2 MAC West)
Toledo wasn’t able to topple unbeaten Western Michigan in the MAC championship game on November 25, but few offenses have kept up with the Rockets this season. Behind the nation-leading 43 touchdown passes by junior quarterback Logan Woodside, they enter the bowl season ranked eighth in the nation in passing offense at 329.1 yards per game and fourth in total offense at 529.8. Appalachian State, by comparison, was 10th in the Sun Belt Conference in pass offense during the regular season (184) and second in total offense (429.6).
The Rockets have a solid running game they can implement if Appalachian State floods the secondary. Kareem Hunt has some incentive to end his collegiate career on a high note. He enters the game with 1,355 rushing yards on the season and 4,825 for his career. Hunt is 25 yards away from passing Chester Taylor as the school’s career leader. Hunt has produced 27 performances with at least 100 rushing yards during his stay at Toledo and has become a dependable receiver as well, catching at least three passes in eight games this season. It’s another reason why he was invited to participate in the Senior Bowl.