When Appalachian State visits 22nd-ranked Miami on Saturday night, it will be a battle between two of the older quarterbacks in college football.
Miami (0-1) is led by D’Eriq King, 24, who began his career with Houston and is now in his second season as the Hurricanes’ QB.
Appalachian State (1-0) is led by Chase Brice, 23, who started his career with Clemson and subsequently played for Duke. He became a starter for the first time last year, going 2-9 with the Blue Devils.
Last week, Brice completed 20 of 27 passes for 259 yards and two touchdowns and was intercepted once in a 33-19 win over East Carolina.
King wasn’t nearly as successful last week as his Hurricanes were routed 44-13 by No. 1 Alabama.
Last year, King bested Brice and Duke, 48-0. King completed 16 of 24 passes for 248 yards, three TDs and no picks in that contest (and he ran for a score). Brice was held to 94 passing yards.
Against Alabama, King went 23 of 31 for 178 yards and one TD, although he was intercepted twice.
“He was brave,” Miami coach Manny Diaz said of King, playing his first game since knee surgery in January. “Just seeing him in warmups was emotional. He stood in there. (King) is a warrior.”
Mountaineers coach Shawn Clark is aware of the potential of the entire Miami team.
“There are no holes on their team other than they played Alabama,” Clark said. “They have a talented team.”
While that may be true, Miami — which finished 8-3 last year — has lost three consecutive games. The Hurricanes fell to North Carolina in the 2020 regular-season finale, then lost to Oklahoma State in the Cheez-It Bowl.
As for Saturday’s game, Miami received good news this week when coaches announced that wide receiver Mike Harley — banged up against Alabama — is ready to face the Mountaineers.
Miami has also moved UNLV transfer Justice Oluwaseun to the starter’s role at right tackle.
“When Justice came in (off the bench against Alabama), our protection was more stable,” Diaz said.
If the line is indeed stabilized, King can look for receiving targets such as Charleston Rambo, Key’Shawn Smith, Xavier Restrepo, Harley and tight end Will Mallory.
The Mountaineers will counter with a veteran defense. Only one starter — first-team all-league cornerback Shemar Jean-Charles — departed after last season.
As for a potential weakness, only two starters return on the Mountaineers’ offensive line.
However, Brice has several playmakers to get the ball to, including Thomas Hennigan and Corey Sutton, each of whom has 18 career TD receptions.
The Mountaineers also had two 100-yard rushers against East Carolina: Nate Noel (126 yards, 8.4 average) and Camerun Peoples (100 yards, 7.1 average, two touchdowns).
“It’s a program we have a lot of respect for,” Diaz said when asked about the Mountaineers. “They dominated East Carolina.”
Hurricanes offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee echoed those sentiments and said Miami will have to be much better this week.
“We want to be more explosive,” he said. “We want to score more points. We want to play faster. We want to take care of the ball.
“We weren’t any of those things (against Alabama), and it showed.”
–Field Level Media