Appalachian State University has a quarterback who threw for 2,000 yards and rushed for 1,000 last year.

This year? They benched him.

Thus is the talent of the Mountaineers, a team that will be home against the University of Maine at 2 p.m. today in the second round of the NCAA Football Championship Sub-Division (FCS) playoffs.

Both teams are 8-3.

“Physically we are probably similar,” Maine Coach Jack Cosgrove said. “Now, do we have their skill level? That’s the question.”

For skill, Appalachian State features a foursome that has the Mountaineers averaging 30 points and 401 yards per game.

Quarterback Jamal Jackson became the starter over the last six games. He can throw or scramble. In his last game he passed for 284 yards and rushed for 40.

Receiver Brian Quick, 6-foot-5, 220 pounds, has caught 64 passes for 1,055 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Running back Travaris Cadet has gained 655 yards but also caught 30 passes for 285 yards.

DeAndre Presley, the one-time starting quarterback, now plays several positions — flanker, cornerback, kick returner.

“Now he’s everywhere, giving everybody headaches,” Cosgrove said.

Despite Presley’s accomplishments last season, Appalachian State Coach Jerry Moore wasn’t pleased with this year’s offense.

“We weren’t hitting on all cylinders,” Moore said of the team’s 3-2 start. “Then Andre bruised his shoulder. Jamal got his opportunity and played really well.”

So well that when Presley was recovered, he didn’t get his job back.

Presley said he would play anywhere and the coaches took him up on the offer.

And the Mountaineers look like they’re purring along.

“Theirs is an offense with great speed and athleticism,” Cosgrove said. “That has us concerned.”

The Mountaineers’ defense hasn’t necessarily shined, allowing 23 points and 343 yards per game — although a 66-13 season-opening loss to Virginia Tech skews the statistics a little.

Maine again will rely on the arm of quarterback Warren Smith and running back Pushaun Brown. While Brown has been hobbled by a sore thigh, he has had two weeks to heal because of last week’s first-round bye.

Maine beat Appalachian State 14-13 in Boone in the 2002 playoffs. Cosgrove calls that a “fond memory” but it won’t help his players prepare today.

“That was too long ago,” Cosgrove said. “And we’re different teams. We were a power I-formation then and they were very tailback-oriented.”

Now Appalachian State uses a spread offense, while Maine tries for a balance of pass and run out of the shotgun.

Look for the Black Bears to try to run a controlled offense to eat up the clock and keep the Mountaineers’ offense off the field.

Look for Appalachian State to try to break big plays and excite an expected crowd of 20,000.

The Mountaineers have won 48 of their last 51 home games.

Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at:

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