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The Daily Tar Heel

A look at Appalachian State, UNC football's fourth foe of the year

UNC-CH junior running back Michael Carter (#8) running the football in the loss against Wake Forest.

After a 2018 campaign in which his team finished 11-2, former Appalachian State head football coach Scott Satterfield departed for greener pastures, electing to take the Louisville job and try to lead the Cardinals back to prominence.

Some North Carolina fans were keen on bringing Satterfield, one of the hottest young coaches in the country, to Chapel Hill. Instead, they got a second helping of Mack Brown, who returned to Chapel Hill after leaving the program in 1997, while App State tapped Eliah Drinkwitz, the former offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for N.C. State, to helm the program.

So far, things worked out pretty well for both teams.

While UNC is 2-1 on the year, already equaling its amount of wins from last season, App State is 2-0 thus far under the guidance of Drinkwitz. The teams will face off on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. in Chapel Hill, with both looking to move a step closer to claiming in-state dominance.

When asked if his familiarity with UNC could help the Mountaineers, Drinkwitz told reporters, "I don’t know if it helps other than to understand to understand how good of football players they are and exactly how big of a challenge it is for us to go play and compete against them."

Brown, meanwhile, had praise of his own to heap on his opponent.

"App State's good enough, they could be in the ACC," Brown told reporters this week. "They're that talented."

In 2019, the Mountaineers have handled two inferior opponents ⁠— they crushed East Tennessee State, 42-7, and beat UNC-Charlotte, 56-41  ⁠— and, coming off of a bye week, are well-rested and ready for what may be their toughest opponent of the year in UNC. The Tar Heels are just one of two Power 5 teams that App State will face this season, the other being South Carolina, a team that North Carolina beat 24-20 on August 31.

One of Drinkwitz's most talented players is junior receiver Corey Sutton, a second-team All-Sun Belt selection last season who led the team in touchdown receptions with 10. After being suspended for the first two games of the year due to a marijuana possession charge back in July, Sutton will be, according to Drinkwitz, "Ready to roll."

At 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, Sutton is a tall, physical receiver who could prove troublesome for an undermanned UNC secondary. Without starting cornerback Patrice Rene, who tore his ACL against Miami, the Tar Heels allowed Wake Forest's Sage Surratt to tally 169 yards and a touchdown in Friday's loss. 

In the App State run game, junior Darrynton Evans has followed up a dominant 2018 campaign with 333 yards and four touchdowns this year. Against UNC-Charlotte alone, the reigning Sun Belt rushing leader amassed 234 yards and found the end zone thrice.

How the Tar Heels plan on containing App State's offensive weapons will be something to watch for. Drinkwitz, for his part, was sure to give credit to the North Carolina defense — and Brown, for turning the UNC program around so quickly.

"I think they’re one of the top 25 or 26 in the country in third-down defense. That’s what they’re trying to do, and he does a really good job of it," Drinkwitz said. 

"... He’s been a good football coach for a long time. He’s been around this state for a while. So he does a really good job."


@DTHSports |

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