BOONE, N.C. — The 2019 season opener for Appalachian State doubles as Eliah Drinkwitz's first game as a college head coach.

The Mountaineers will play host to East Tennessee State on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. in Kidd Brewer Stadium. They were previously FCS rivals in the Southern Conference, last playing in 2003, with ETSU temporarily dropping football after that season and returning to competition in 2015, after App State had moved to the Sun Belt Conference at the FBS level.

While App State won a third straight Sun Belt title and a fourth straight bowl game in 2018, the Buccaneers shared a SoCon title with Wofford and Furman before concluding an 8-4 season in the first round of the FCS playoffs.

Today, we'll look at how the offense from App State potentially matches up against the defense from ETSU:

App State Offense vs. ETSU Defense

Ten of 11 starters from an 11-2 team in 2018 return to the same or a similar spot this year for App State, which has the nation's second-longest streak of consecutive years with a 1,000-yard rusher.

Drinkwitz arrived in Boone from NC State, which had a 1,000-yard rusher in each of his three seasons as offensive coordinator after going without one since 2002. Last year alone, the Wolfpack possessed a 1,000-yard rusher, two 1,000-yard receivers and a quarterback with nearly 3,800 passing yards, so App State will look to continue that balanced, explosive production with Drinkwitz calling the offensive plays and coaching the quarterbacks.

"You know, defense by nature tries to be disruptive," Drinkwitz said. "Offensively, we've got to attack them and can't let them sit back and dictate what they're going to do to us."

Zac Thomas returns at quarterback with plenty of talented skill players, including a quartet of high-level running backs, at his disposal.

The offensive line brings back five players who started multiple games last year, while Thomas Hennigan and Malik Williams have been impactful receivers since they enrolled as true freshmen before the 2017 season.

After allowing just 132.3 rushing yards per game last season, ETSU's 3-4 base defense is led by a pair of FCS All-America candidates in defensive end Nasir Player and free safety Tyree Robinson.

Like three App State seniors, the 6-foot-5, 271-pound Player has been named to the preseason watch list for the Reese's Senior Bowl. He has accumulated 13 sacks among his 24.5 tackles for loss over the last two years, and Robinson posted 71 tackles with six interceptions in 2018.

"They did a really good job of stopping the run," Drinkwitz said. "And, two, they do a good job pressuring the quarterback and forcing him into bad situations — getting rid of the ball before he wants to or tipped balls, so the key for us is we've got to do a great job of controlling the line of