By Bret Strelow | App State Athletics
Various forms of collective and individual recognition have followed App State’s headline-making win at No. 6 Texas A&M.
From a national team of the week honor, to a national coach of the week award for Shawn Clark and Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Week award for outside linebacker Jalen McLeodthe Mountaineers are riding high heading into their league opener on Saturday against Troy.
With ESPN’s College GameDay show set to take place Saturday morning from Sanford Mall in the middle of App State’s campus, the home game against Troy is scheduled for 3:30 pm on ESPN+.
Stay tuned to appstatesports.com and App State’s social media channels for more details as they become available.
GOOD TO BE HOME: App State’s next three games are all home sellouts.
The final reserved seats for the Troy game were sold Monday, adding the league opener to sellouts for visits by James Madison on Sept. 24 and The Citadel on Oct. 1. The first FBS matchup between App State and JMU has a kickoff time of 3:30 pm, the Sun Belt announced Monday.
Getting back to Boone to begin this three-game homestand proved quite difficult.
App State traveled to the nearby airport in College Station, Texas, after Saturday’s win, but a mechanical issue with the airplane prevented the team from taking off as scheduled.
Coaches, players and staff hung out inside and outside their buses near the parked plane for about three hours and were still there when news broke of College GameDay’s next destination, prompting Clark to gather the team for an impromptu announcement on the dark tarmac.
With no quick solution for the tire issue, the team reboarded its buses and returned to the College Station hotel it had occupied Friday night. Arriving back there after midnight, with no way for the hotel to accommodate such a large group with the needed number of rooms, especially on short notice, members of the traveling party spread out in conference rooms, lobby areas, hallways and other quiet spots in the facility.
Many people took naps on the floor, with helpful hotel employees walking around to place bed sheets over sleeping Mountaineers, and everyone reboarded the buses after an unofficial wakeup call at 3:30 am CT. The plane took off at approximately 5:30 am in Texas and landed in Charlotte at 8:15 am ET on Sunday morning.
Five buses headed up the mountain, and the Mountaineers were greeted by cars honking their horns before reaching cheering fans who had set up outside Kidd Brewer Stadium’s north end zone facility. The buses rolled onto Jack Branch Drive to the scene of an enthusiastic crowd at around 10:45 am
TEAM OF THE WEEK: The Football Writers Association of America recognized three teams as Cheez-It Bowl National Teams of the Week: App State, Marshall and Georgia Southern.
All three Sun Belt teams won road games against high-profile programs: in addition to App State’s 17-14 victory against the Aggies, Marshall upset No. 8 Notre Dame and Georgia Southern defeated Nebraska.
ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit, who will be in Boone for the College GameDay appearance, listed App State at No. 2 on his top performing teams of the week, behind just Kentucky.
COACH OF THE WEEK: The wins over top-10 opponents by the Mountaineers and Thundering Herd contributed to Clark and Marshall head coach Charles Huff being chosen as national coaches of the week by The Dodd Trophy, which is named after legendary Georgia Tech coach Bobby Dodd.
It’s the second straight year that Clark and the Mountaineers have beaten a top-15 team.
DEFENDER OF THE WEEK: When App State swept North Carolina and South Carolina in 2019, the signature plays occurred on the defensive side of the ball.
Fans won’t soon forget Demetrius Taylors strip sack, fumble recovery and 20-yard return for a touchdown at UNC, or Nick Ross’ 20-yard interception return for a touchdown at South Carolina.
McLeod provided the most impressive highlight-reel play at Texas A&M. Pushing aside the 6-foot-8, 325-pound right tackle, McLeod knocked loose ball from quarterback Haynes King, but an offensive lineman scooped up the fumble and started to run with the ball. McLeod pursued him from behind and forced another fumble, this one being recovered by teammate DeAndre Dingle-Prince.
The Mountaineers used a short field to score their first touchdown. McLeod was officially credited with a sack during that sequence, and he added a second sack later in the game.
McLeod is tied for second place in the Sun Belt in sacks per game, behind league leader and teammate Nick Hampton.
App State’s defense limited Texas A&M to nine first downs and 186 total yards, and Dale Jones has been recognized as one of the top defensive coordinators since last weekend.