QB question marks for Citadel, App State
Both teams are dealing with quarterback questions this week as The Citadel prepares to take on Appalachian State, the consensus No. 1 team in the Football Championship Subdivision.
Bulldogs quarterback Sam Martin and App State signal-caller DeAndre Presley, the current Southern Conference offensive player of the week, both suffered head injuries on Saturday. Martin got sandwiched between to Chattanooga defenders in a 28-10 loss to the Mocs, while Presley took a helmet-to-helmet shot late in a 34-31 win over Elon, a hit that upset some Mountaineers players.
Citadel coach Kevin Higgins characterized Martin's injury as a "concussion," but said he expects Martin to return to practice this week. App State's Presley is listed as day-to-day, though he passed a medical evaluation Sunday, according to the school's sports information department.
Martin, a redshirt freshman, made his first start in Saturday's game against Chattanooga and rushed for 34 yards on nine carries, including a 17-yarder.
But early in the second quarter, Martin got hit by Mocs tackle Nick Davison and another player. He got to his feet and called a timeout, to Higgins' consternation.
"I said, 'Sam, why did you call a timeout?' " Higgins said at his Monday news conference. "He said, 'Coach, I couldn't see anything.' So we got him off the field, and I determined it was a concussion. I'm not sure if that is what our medical staff is calling it, but we didn't put him back in the game. He was doing fine after the game.
"We'll keep giving him tests, but (Sunday) he was fine, (Monday) he was fine. I think he will be OK and we'll get him practicing this week."
True freshman Matt Thompson, who was going to play about half the Bulldogs' snaps anyway, came in for Martin and finished the game, running 13 times for 30 yards and hitting 2 of 5 passes for 25 yards, with one interception on a tipped pass in the end zone.
Meanwhile, App State's medical staff is keeping a close eye on Presley, the 5-11, 170-pound junior who has stepped seamlessly into the role played by Armanti Edwards, the two-time Walter Payton Award winner now with the Carolina Panthers. All Presley did in Saturday's win over Elon was run 23 times for 170 yards, including touchdowns of 53 and 44 yards, and complete 14 of 19 passes for 204 yards and another TD.
For the season, Presley is second in the nation in passing efficiency with a rating of 170.42, and 10th in total offense at 310 yards per game.
But Presley suffered a head injury in the final minute of the game. No penalty was called on the play, but some Mountaineers were upset by what they thought was a late hit.
"Some of Presley's teammates objected to the hit Presley took on the play, saying it was late and unnecessary," reported the Watauga Democrat. " He was examined for a head injury and did not meet with reporters following the game."
Backup QB Jamal Jackson, a 6-3, 195-pound freshman, finished out the game against Elon. Jackson has played in four games, with 78 yards and a TD on 15 carries in App State's spread option offense. He has hit 7 of 11 passes for 144 yards and one TD and no interceptions.
App State (5-0, 3-0 SoCon) would be a heavy favorite over the Bulldogs (2-4, 0-3) even without Presley.
"He's really, really playing well," Higgins said of Presley. "The biggest surprise from my standpoint is that he's throwing the ball awfully well. He has a very strong arm, he's very good mechanically ... They run the spread option, they love to spread you out, and DeAndre loves to keep the ball off of those reads."
Citadel punter Cass Couey was named the SoCon special teams player of the week. Couey averaged 44.5 yards on four kicks, put two out inside the Chattanooga 20 and ran 33 yards on a fake punt to set up the Bulldogs' first TD ... Tight Alex Sellars, already struggling with back problems, hurt his knee against the Mocs and is out this week. Defensive end Erik Clanton and safety Demetrius Jackson are listed as "probable" with injuries to their "lower extremities" ... Saturday's game is set for 6 p.m. for several reasons, an App State official said Monday. Mountaineers fans have been asking for a night game; Saturday is Parents Weekend, with activities during the day; and there are several festivals going on in Boone during the day. The high temperature Saturday in Boone is forecast at 57 degrees.