UF non-conference preview: Appalachian State

Devon Moore, Charles Graves
Devon Moore, Charles Graves

Appalachian State's Devon Moore (20) outruns Delaware's Charles Graves (30) for a touchdown during the first quarter of the FCS championship football game Friday, Dec. 14, 2007 in Chattanooga, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

Published: Thursday, July 1, 2010 at 10:47 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, July 1, 2010 at 10:47 p.m.

It's your Daily Football Fix! Gainesville Sun staff writers are here to help get you through the long, hot summer with a daily dose of college football. The series runs every day until the start of fall practice.

We've been taking a look at the non-conference opponents on Florida's schedule (other than traditional rival Florida State). Earlier this week, we offered a brief break down of South Florida, UF's second opponent on Sept. 11. Earlier, we gave a preview of the Gators' Sept. 4 opener against Miami of Ohio. Today, we take a look at Appalachian State, which may be the most dangerous team of the three.

Just ask Michigan. Appy State went to the Big House in 2007 and upset the Wolverines in one of the most shocking upsets in college football history. Later that same year, in the Capital One Bowl, Florida lost to that same Michigan team that lost to the FCS Mountaineers.

It's safe to say that Appy State will not be the late-season breather the Gators have enjoyed in past seasons against the likes of The Citadel, Western Carolina and Florida International. This will be a test.

The Mountaineers have won or shared the Southern Conference title each of the past five seasons. The biggest problem facing this year's team is finding a replacement for do-everything quarterback Armanti Edwards, who is considered one of the greatest players ever in the FCS. He has been the face of Appalachian State football for the past four seasons, and the key player.

There is a two-way battle for Edwards' old spot between junior DeAndre Presley and redshirt freshman Jamal Jackson. Presley has the edge in experience, but Jackson might have a bigger upside.

If the Mountaineers get productive quarterback play, this team will be extremely dangerous, with five first-team all-conference selections returning this season.

The key returning player on offense is running back Devon Moore, who rushed for 1,374 yards and 19 touchdowns in 2009. His presence will take some of the pressure off the new quarterback (whoever it turns out to be). The Mountaineers also return four of five starting offensive linemen and their top three receivers — so there are plenty of offensive options.

The defense is led by two All-Americans — senior linebacker D.J. Smith and defensive back Mark LeGree.

This will be a talented and hungry Appy State team coming into The Swamp. Can the Mountaineers pull off the upset? Maybe not, but they are good enough to make this game very interesting.

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