Appalachian State's final season in the Southern Conference definitely hasn't gone according to plan. The Sun Belt-bound Mountaineers, a perennial title contender, are 2-6 overall, 2-3 in league play and are assured of their first non-winning season since 1993.
But it's not all bad. Two bright spots this season have been the play of redshirt sophomore quarterback Kameron Bryant and true freshman running back Marcus Cox.
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (6-2, 4-1 SoCon) knows all about Cox, whom the Mocs recruited heavily out of Dacula (Ga.) High School. Cox is third in the SoCon with 699 yards rushing and his 35 receptions, for 509 yards, are tied for fifth-most in the league.
"He did all the things in high school that he's doing now," Mocs coach Russ Huesman said. "There's no question, he can beat you in a lot of different ways. ... They're doing a great job with him and he doesn't look like a freshman at all. He looks like a big-time back."
Cox and UTC starting left tackle Corey Levin, a redshirt freshman, were teammates at Dacula.
"I tweeted him after we beat The Citadel," Levin said. "I said it would be weird seeing him on another team but see you Saturday."
Returning starting quarterback Jamal Londry-Jackson, the preseason pick for SoCon offensive player of the year, started the first four games before being replaced by Bryant, due in part to injury. Bryant redshirted in 2011 and suffered a season-ending knee injury last season after playing just 13 snaps.
Bryant has started the past four games and played in all eight. He enters Saturday's game against UTC at Kidd Brewer Stadium ranked third in the SoCon with 1,744 passing yards and his 73.4 completion percentage is by far the best in the league. He's thrown 10 touchdown passes to just two interceptions.
In ASU's 38-14 whipping of Georgia Southern last week, Bryant was 27 of 33 for 381 yards and two touchdowns.
"It was just execution and not making mistakes," Bryant said. "We've been moving the ball all year -- we just haven't put up points."
The Mountaineers are third in the SoCon in total offense (413.0 yards per game), but last in turnover margin (minus-3) and eighth in penalties (52).
Against Georgia Southern, Bryant found the range on passes down field. He had 13 completions of 15 yards or more.
"I think it all came together [last] weekend as far as Kam making better throws, and our receivers probably played their best game they've played all year," first-year ASU coach Scott Satterfield said.
Cox has been a big weapon as a receiver, but he's not alone. Appalachian State has a pair of senior wideouts in Andrew Peacock and Tony Washington that have a combined 95 receptions for 1,052 yards.
Appalachian State might only be playing for pride at this point, but the Mountaineers can also be a spoiler. The Mocs are in the thick of the SoCon title race, tied for second in the standings with Wofford (5-3, 4-1), one game behind league-leading Samford (6-2, 4-0) with four games remaining.
Contact John Frierson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6268. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/MocsBeat.