When Appalachian State takes to the field for its season opener against East Carolina in a little less than three weeks time, it will have hoped to have found its way out of the doldrums the team was mired in at season's end.
The final stretch of the 2011 season saw the Mountaineers struggle in two of their final three games of the campaign, which included losses down the stretch at Furman (20-10) and the shocking 34-12 defeat the Black and Gold endured at the hands of the Maine Black Bears in the second round of the FCS playoffs—bringing an abrupt end to the 2011 campaign.
The offseason would see plenty of change, yet in that change, some of the old order was restored. By season's end in 2011, Jerry Moore's Mountaineers had seemingly lost their way and too much success can sometimes be too much of a good thing.
When Mark Speir—one of ASU's top and most-well respected assistant coaches—left to become the head coach at Western Carolina, it set in motion the seeds of change. It was a program-changing defeat to those same Catamounts in 2004 that set in motion the changes needed to be made to catapult the Black and Gold into their unprecedented run towards three national titles.
Speir would take three assistants with him to Cullowhee for the 2012 season, while offensive line coach Bob McClain was relieved of his duties. With five changes needing to be made, ASU made its best possible decision with its first one—bringing back Scott Satterfield to be the offensive coordinator and associate head coach for the 2012 season.
Satterfield was the main influence—though not officially titled offensive coordinator—that helped ASU post one of the nation's most dynamic offensive units for three-straight seasons prior to moving on to try his wares as an offensive coordinator at Toledo and Florida International before returning to Boone.
He helped fashion one the greatest offensive juggernauts in FCS history during the 2011 season, as the ASU offense set single-season marks for points scored (641), rushing yards (4,311) and total offensive yards (7,324).
The good news is, Satterfield will inherit an experienced quarterback, who showed a rifle arm and the ability to lead the ASU potent attack much in the same fashion his predecessors Armanti Edwards and Richie Williams once did.
Satterfield had a knack for making a good quarterback a great one, and no doubt Jamal Jackson brings many of the same traits as a signal-caller to the table as Williams did when he led the Mountaineers to the first of three national title runs in his senior campaign back in 2005.
Satterfield himself was of course a former ASU quarterback, leading the program to its only undefeated regular season in school history back in 1995. He helped the Mountaineers run the gauntlet to a Southern Conference title with a perfect 11-0 regular season, including an 8-0 league mark.
In all, Satterfield spent 15 seasons as both a player and a coach on the ASU sidelines before leaving for Toledo prior to the 2009 season.
Also coming into to help out on the offensive side of the ball this fall all three more new faces, including running backs coach Chris Foster, wide receivers coach Justin Stepp and offensive line coach Dwayne Ledford.
Foster comes to ASU from Gardner-Webb, where he served eight seasons—most of which came under the highly successful Steve Patten. Foster coached All-Big South selections in four of his eight seasons in Boiling Springs, N.C.—including Kenny Little last fall, who became the first GWU running back to rush for over 1,000 yards in 11 seasons.
Foster will be charged with improving a unit that ranked its lowest in ground production (6th in SoCon/156.0 YPG) in seven seasons, dating back to the first season of utilizing the spread offense in 2004.
Stepp is no stranger to the Kidd Brewer Stadium turf, as he was a star wideout for SoCon rival Furman from 2003-06—earning All-SoCon honors twice—and is currently ranked fourth all-time on the school's all-time receptions ledger.
Stepp will have the luxury of coaching one of the fastest WRs to ever take the field at the KBS, as he will welcome in the newest Mountaineer—Oregon transfer Tacoi Sumler. Sumler recorded the fastest 40-yard dash time on the Oregon roster, clocking a 4.24.
ASU's newest WR coach probably knows a little something about speed, too, as Stepp served as an assistant on the Clemson Tiger offensive staff last season, with the likes of young speed merchants Sammy Watkins and Charone Peake helping lead the Tigers to their first ACC crown since 1991.
Ledford's job will be to begin to build depth along an ASU offensive front that was thin in many areas last season. He will also have to replace two of the final holdovers from that championship-laden era, with the graduation of Matt Ruff (RG) and Orry Frye (LT).
Like Foster, Ledford also comes to ASU from GWU, where he spent the 2011 season. Prior to that, Ledford also served as a member of the Tennessee State staff in 2010, helping the Tigers rank among the best in the nation in fewest sacks allowed, yielding only 13.
Ledford played college football as a standout defensive lineman at ECU before moving onto the NFL, where he played seven seasons.
ASU will also have two new assistants on the defensive side of the football for the 2012 season; welcoming in ASU alum Mark Ivey (1995) to coach the outside LBs, while Bryan Brown is set to coach the CBs.
Like Satterfield, Ivey knows a little something about winning football games, as he was ASU's newest offensive coordinator's teammate on that '95 squad that went through the regular season unblemished en route to a SoCon title. Ivey started 12 of 13 games for ASU at defensive tackle during his senior season.
For the past 16 seasons, Ivey has been a standout high school coach in the Sunshine State of Florida, serving as the head coach at Cypress Lake High School and Barron Collier High School. Ivey has had to do a little crisis management as of late, as he has had to find a replacement for seasoned starter John Rizor, who was kicked off the team a couple of weeks ago for assault incident involving another ASU student-athlete.
Finally, Brown comes to ASU from SEC West member Ole Miss, where he spent last season serving as a graduate assistant for the Rebels. Brown was a two-sport athlete at Ole Miss from 2003-06, serving the Rebels' football team as a four-year letterwinner. He inherits one of the best CBs in the nation to coach this fall, as Buck Buchanan Award candidate Demetrius McCray led the SoCon with five INTs last season.
This is only the first of the three-part preview heading into the 2012 season for Appalachian State. Please stayed tuned to Bleacher Report, where we will take a detailed look at the ASU offense in the coming days in Part 2 of the 2012 season preview.