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June 15, 2007

Countdown to Kickoff: Gardner-Webb

Countdown To Kickoff: Preview of App State's 2007 Opponents

Game Six: Gardner-Webb University
Where: Kidd Brewer Stadium ("The Rock"), Boone, N.C.
Playing Surface: Field Turf
Capacity: 17,150
When: October 6, 2007
Time/TV: 2:30/TBA
Series Record: 4-0
Last Meeting: 2006 ASU 41, Gardner-Webb 6

About Gardner-Webb
2006 Record: 6-5 (2-2 Big South Conference)
Head Coach: Steve Patton enters his 11th season as head coach of the Runnin' Bulldogs and is second on the school's career wins list with 67 to 41 losses. Patton has compiled an overall record of 97-65-1 in 15 seasons as a head coach including stops at Mars Hill and North Greeneville.
Returning Starters: 20 (Offense: 9, Defense: 10, Specialists: 1)
2006 by the numbers: Scoring offense: 24.5 ppg; Pass offense: 241.4 ypg; Rush offense: 97.2 ypg; Total offense: 338.5 ypg; Scoring defense: 29.9 ppg; Pass defense: 207.4 ypg; Rush defense: 205.1 ypg; Total defense: 412.5 ypg.

When Gardner-Webb has the ball: In 2006, the Runnin' Bulldogs offense showed from time-to-time they had the ability to put points on the board in bundles. However, they were essentially a one-dimensional team causing them to suffer just a bit when facing tougher opponents. With all but two starters returning in 2007, GWU has high expectations for its offense.

Much of those expectations are based on the return of quarterback Devin Campbell and senior wide receivers Vonzell Pittman and Duvaughn Flagler. Campbell, who returns as the Big South's leading passer, is expected to improve upon a strong 2006 performance, but to do so he must cut down his interception total. Despite throwing for 2,215 yards and 15 touchdowns, Campbell was considered a liability in some instances due to the 17 interceptions he tossed. This season, GWU coaches feel Campbell is ready to make better decisions with the ball and eliminate some of his unforced errors.

At 6-foot-5, 205 pounds, Pittman, who redshirted in 2006, gives the Bulldogs a huge target at the wide receiver position. Along with 2005 All-American receiver Flagler, who hauled in 64 passes last season for 740 yards and seven touchdowns, the duo should give the Bulldogs two major threats on offense.

At running back, the Bulldogs return both of its leading rushers in sophomores David Montgomery and Phillip Peoples. The return of these to players may not be of much significance, however, due to the limited number of carries they will receive. Montgomery finished the '06 campaign with a mere 349 yards on the ground to lead the team, followed by Peoples, who rushed for 323 yards.

Blocking upfront for Campbell and the two running backs will be a very experienced offensive line as all but one starter returns to the unit.

What will Gardner-Webb do offensively?: Offensive coordinator Joe Pizzo knows that last season his Bulldogs showed the potential to field a very good offense. Heading into this season he expects his unit to perform at a very high level and help lead this experienced team into the post season. His plan in putting points on the board will fall into a one-back, three wide receiver set. They will again look to spread the ball out through the air and take advantage of their big receivers.

Match-up to watch: Appalachian State's defensive backs, Corey Lynch, Jerome Touchstone, Justin Woazeah, Titus Howard and Billy Riddle vs. Gardner-Webb's receivers, Duvaughn Flagler, Vonzell Pittman and Dobson Collins.

The big question: Will ASU be able to shutdown GWU's only source of offense (the passing game) like it did in 2006 when they held it to 145 yards?

When Appalachian State has the ball: Defensively, Gardner-Webb is as experienced as anyone the Mountaineers will face in 2007. With 10 starters returning, the Bulldogs feel they can perform at a much high level than they did a year ago when they gave up more than 400 yards a game.

Much of the reason they feel they can do this is in direct correlation with the return of All-American and Big South Defensive Player of the Year Brian Johnston. As a junior, Johnston notched an impressive 23 quarterback hurries and eight sacks. Additionally, the junior racked up 77 total tackles and 14 tackles-for-loss. At 6-foot-5, 280 pounds, Johnston will be a handful for any offensive lineman to handle.

In addition to Johnston's return, Gardner-Webb is also excited to welcome back its leading tackler and 2006 All-American outside linebacker Mario E. Brown. Last season, Brown managed to notch 109 tackles, 12 tackles-for-loss, five sacks and three interceptions. His presence was felt in all facets of the game.

The Bulldogs also return its second leading tackler in middle linebacker Mike Pavelko, who recorded 87 tackles and two tackles-for-loss.

Additionally, all four starters in the defensive secondary will return in '07, including free safety Daniel Cooke, who tallied 67 tackles and one interception.

What will Gardner-Webb do defensively?: GWU will run a traditional 4-3 defensive set and will look to put pressure on the running game in hopes of forcing teams to air it out against their experienced secondary. Last season run defense was a weakness, but they expect to be much better now that they are working with experienced players this go-round.

Match-up to watch: ASU offensive line against the GWU defensive front four.

The big question: Can ASU keep Brian Johnston and Mario E. Brown in check throughout the game?

Gardner-Webb's special teams: Punter Michael Hanna is the only experienced returning player on special teams. Last season Hanna averaged 43.5 yards per punt and placed 15 inside the 20-yard line. Taylor Ports, who has only seen game action once, is slated to handle the placekicking duties.

2006 Results
9/02/06 � at Jacksonville (W, 49-14)
9/09/06 � Tennessee Tech (W, 30-26)
9/16/06 � at UT-Martin (L, 9-35)
9/23/06 � Appalachian State (L, 6-41)
9/30/06 � at Southeastern Louisiana (W, 28-21)
10/14/06 � Glenville State (W, 31-23)
10/21/06 � at Liberty (W, 27-24)
10/28/06 � VMI (W, 35-31)
11/04/06 � at Charleston Southern (L, 14-28)
11/11/06 � Coastal Carolina (L, 24-52)
11/18/06 � Wofford (L, 17-34)

2007 Schedule
9/01/07 � at Ohio
9/08/07 � Jacksonville
9/22/07 � at Mississippi State
9/29/07 � Austin Peay
10/06/07 � at Appalachian State
10/13/07 � at Wofford
10/20/07 � at VMI
10/27/07 � Charleston Southern
11.03/07 � Savannah State
11/10/07 � at Coastal Carolina
11/17/07 � Liberty


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