MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Appalachian State lost all four of their 2020 scheduled non-conference games when Morgan State, Wisconsin, Wake Forest and Massachusetts came off the board due to COVID requirements. But quickly, ASU head coach Shawn Clark learned he would get to coach back in his home state.
Appalachian State and Marshall agreed to a home-and-home contract four weeks ago. ASU visits Huntington Saturday. The Herd will return the game in Boone, North Carolina in 2029. Clark is a George Washington High School graduate and Charleston native. Saturday’s game will kick off at 3:30 and will be televised by CBS.
“It is always nice to go back home,” Clark said. “I have a lot of respect for the state, for Marshall University as well as WVU. Anytime you get a chance to come back home and coach against one of those programs, it is always nice. It is business as usual.”
Ticket requests have poured in for the Kanawha County native. But limited capacity at Joan C. Edwards Stadium made his decisions a little bit easier.
“We played in front of no fans this (past) week. So playing in front of 12,500 will be a blessing.
“It is a battle. My phone has not stopped ringing since Saturday after our game. I have a lot of great friends in Charleston and a lot of former coaches that I played for in the valley. They all want tickets. I am going to give two tickets to my mom and dad, Joyce and Roy. My wife and two kids will come down. The rest are on their own.”
Clark is entering his first full season as ASU’s head coach. As the interim coach last December, he led the Mountaineers to a win over UAB in the New Orleans Bowl. Last Saturday, App State defeated Charlotte 35-20.
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“It was different. As an assistant coach, you make suggestions. As the head coach, you make decisions. There were a few fourth down calls that we went for. I was going to call things aggressive all game long. After the game, it felt like a played a game. I was sore in places I haven’t been sore before. That was fun though. A lot of stress but I had a lot of fun doing it.”
Clark is planning to face a Marshall team that is coming off a bye week, which followed a 59-0 season-opening win over Eastern Kentucky.
“Marshall has got a great program. I have a lot of respect for Doc (Holliday) and how he does things. He recruits very well. He recruits speed. They have a lot of length in the program. They have a great quarterback, a hometown guy in Grant Wells. That’s a kid I watched in high school. Anytime you have a good quarterback, great receivers and a good offensive line, it can be a challenge for us.
“Wells I don’t think got touched one time in the pocket. That’s hard to do in college football no matter who you are playing. Just watching him, he looks like he is a proven veteran right now with the way he threw the ball, with the way he scrambled and the way he took care of the offense. And for us, we really have to improve on ball security. We had three turnovers this weekend.”
Appalachian State is a member of the Sun Belt Conference. That league had three teams win at Big 12 schools on Saturday. Coastal Carolina defeated Kansas, Louisiana knocked off No. 18 Iowa State and Arkansas State defeated Kansas State.
“Great for our conference. Three Sun Belt teams going to the Big 12 and getting quality wins. That is not surprising to me knowing the quality of opponents we have in our conference. I am very proud of our conference and the way we represented.”
Coaches are known to be meticulous planners. Clark already has his pregame breakfast plans laid out for Saturday.
“The most difficult thing is going to be to get that Tudor’s Biscuit Saturday morning.”