App State offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Frank Ponce has turned the Mountaineers’ backup QB entering the season into one of the nation’s most prolific scorers. Joey Aguilar, who transferred from Diablo Valley Community College in January, was No. 2 behind starter Ryan Burger after a competition that last throughout spring, summer and into fall camp. Burger suffered an injury to his throwing hand in the first quarter of the season opener, leaving the door open for Aguilar to take the reins.
In the time since, under Ponce’s guidance, Aguilar has blossomed into a touchdown machine. His 26 TD passes entering week 12 are tied for fifth-most in the FBS behind only LSU’s Jayden Daniels, Oregon’s Bo Nix, USC’s Caleb Williams and Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. After some early struggles with interceptions in key moments in his first few Division I starts, he has been sensational in the team’s last five games, completing 97 of 143 passes (67.8%) for 1,432 yards (286.4/game) with 14 TDs and only two INTs.
As Aguilar and some other young players have developed under Ponce over the course of the season, App State’s offense has seen steady improvement. As of November 12, the Mountaineers boast national ranks of 15th in total offense (456.9 ypg), 22nd in scoring (34.8 ppg), 30th in passing (273 ypg), 31st in rushing (183.9 ypg), 19th in sacks allowed (1.3/game) and 36th in red zone offense (89.2%).
Ponce has a track record of developing record-breaking QBs, including App State’s Taylor Lamb and Zac Thomas, and Louisville’s Malik Cunningham. In his one other season as an offensive coordinator (2021 at App State), his unit had a final national ranking of 22nd in scoring and 30th in total offense with the Mountaineers reaching the Sun Belt championship game and a bowl appearance.