2011 Arkansas State Preview – Offense
Arkansas State RB Derek Lawson
Arkansas State RB Derek Lawson
Posted Jun 29, 2011

CollegeFootballNews.com 2011 Preview - Arkansas State Red Wolves Offense

Arkansas State Red Wolves

Preview 2011 - Offense

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What You Need To Know: The Hugh Freeze no-huddle, high-octane offense worked. After finishing second in the Sun Belt in scoring offense and total offense, the potential is there to do even more. The passing game was explosive and was among the best in school history, and now the sky's the limit if the protection is there. Four starters are gone from the line and it's going to take a little while to find the right combination. Fortunately, everything else is in place with QB Ryan Aplin, one of the best all-around playmakers in the Sun Belt, leading the way. Running backs Derek Lawson and Jermaine Robertson are veterans who can average five yards per carry, and the receiving corps could be the best in the conference with top targets Dwayne Frampton, Allen Muse, and Taylor Stockemer returning along with both tight ends.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Ryan Aplin
252-410, 2,939 yds, 21 TD, 11 INT
Rushing: Derek Lawson
105 carries, 500 yds, 4 TD
Receiving: Dwayne Frampton
69 catches, 738 yds, 6 TD

Star of the offense: Junior QB Ryan Aplin
Player who has to step up and be a star: Senior OT Delano Moore
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore OG Cliff Mitchell
Best pro prospect: Junior WR Taylor Stockemer
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Aplin, 2) WR Dwayne Frampton, 3) C Tom Castilaw
Strength of the offense: Passing Game, Receivers
Weakness of the offense: Offensive Line, Consistency


State of the Unit: The ASU passing game was second in the Sun Belt and 31st in the nation in passing bombing away for 254 yards per game while also finishing second in the league – behind Troy – in passing efficiency. The new coaching staff isn't going to change things up with the air attack that should be the team's biggest strength.

Junior Ryan Aplin earned First Team All-Sun Belt honors and should be in the mix for the Sun Belt Player of the Year honor coming off a 2,939-yard, 21 touchdown season. Not only was he accurate, completing 61% of his throws, but he was also the team's second leading rusher with 477 yards and 11 scores. At 6-1 and 205 pounds he's not big and he doesn't have a huge arm, but he spread the ball around well, is great on the move, and he's steady. The 11 interceptions were a problem, and he wasn't able to come up with enough close wins, but he's a statistical machine who knows what he's doing.

Back as a key backup is sophomore Phillip Butterfield, who was supposed to be in the hunt for the starting job a few years ago before suffering a knee injury. He was a big recruit for the program with 6-2, 215-pound size and a live passing arm, and he managed to do just fine when he got his chances last year completing half his passes for 114 yards and a touchdown with a pick while also running for 154 yards and a touchdown. He's a more than capable second option.

Watch Out For … the combination of Aplin and Butterfield … again. Aplin is the star the team works around, but Butterfield is a dangerous, talented player who'll once again get his chances. Both players are smart, talented leaders who can each produce when needed.
Strength: Passing. Butterfield has the gun to push it deep when he gets his chances, while Aplin showed that he can wing it around the yard for 300 yards in shootouts. The Red Wolves would like to be in more tight, tough games, but they can bomb away when needed.
Weakness: Interceptions. Aplin threw six in his limited time in 2009 and the 11 were an issue last season. ASU was 0-3 when Aplin threw two picks – including a loss to WKU – and while mistakes are going to happen with 408 passing attempts, there can't be so many giveaways.
Outlook: The Red Wolves will still push the ball through the air with Aplin and Butterfield each getting their shot to run the offense. They can both run well and they're both ballers creating one of the Sun Belt's best situations.
Unit Rating: 6.5

Running Backs

State of the Unit: The ASU no-huddle attack gets plenty of rushing production out of the quarterbacks, and while Ryan Aplin and Phillip Butterfield combined for 12 of the team's 23 rushing touchdowns and finished second and fifth on the team in rushing, respectively, the backs are in place to balance things out even more. There's no reason the quarterbacks should handle the ball as much as they do with the talent returning.

Senior Derek Lawson has led the team in each of the last two seasons with 723 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2009 and running for 500 yards and four scores last year. His role was diminished a bit as the year went on with just one carry against Navy and just one game with more than seven carries over the final six outings, but now he'll be the starter again and will get his share of the workload. With decent hands, he finished the year with 15 catches for 154 yards and a score and he'll continue to be used in a variety of ways.

6-1, 230-pound senior Jermaine Robertson is the thumper who brings a more physical style than Lawson. He can be used as a fullback when needed and is a strong blocker, but he also showed he can carry the ball on a regular basis as he took over the workload over the second half of the year. He finished the season with 348 yards and five scores, averaging five yards per carry, but he wasn't used enough around the goal line and he didn't get enough chances to be the workhorse. The receiving skills are there to be a short-range target, but more than anything else he'll be given the ball to wear teams down.

Along with having a great name, 5-11, 190-pound sophomore Sirgregory Thornton has a good game averaging 6.8 yards per carry finishing fourth on the team with 258 yards and a score. A smart player with good wiggle and good receiving skills, he caught 13 passes for 86 yards and a touchdown and he could be used as a third down back to get his speed into the open field.

Watch Out For … more Thornton. Lawson and Robertson are the keys to the running game, but Thornton showed enough as a true freshman to warrant more work. He has the skills to be used even more as a receiver.
Strength: A great rotation. Lawson is an every down back who can carry the ground game, Robertson is a big hitter, and Thornton brings the flash. Between the three the Red Wolves should be able to pound away on the ground even more and not have to rely on the quarterbacks to take off so much.
Weakness: The no-huddle. The running game struggled at times in the past with its consistency, but the overall production was always there. The backs don't get used as much as they should in the Hugh Freeze attack. Lawson went from cranking out yards in chunks to not having as much room to move.
Outlook: The Red Wolves have a nice veteran backfield to rely on with three good options to form a steady rotation. The quarterbacks will still do much of the heavy lifting when it comes to the bulk of the carries, but the backs should be able to carry the attack from time to time with everyone staying fresh.
Unit Rating: 6


State of the Unit: Last year, the ASU receiving corps was big on upside and short on experience, and now the potential is there for this to be among the best groups in the Sun Belt. Three starters are back, along with the top tight ends, and they'll all get the ball coming their way with QB Ryan Aplin returning to spread it around.

Junior Taylor Stockemer is becoming one of the Sun Belt's most dangerous receivers. The 6-4, 210-pound veteran on the X followed up a 16 catch first season with 34 grabs for 560 yards and five scores. With a career averaged of 18.1 yards per catch, he's a terrific deep threat with smarts, size, and the hands to be a No. 1 target. Steady, he was ultra-reliable throughout last season after missing time with heat issues. He'll be backed up on the outside by sophomore Julian Jones, a former defensive back who'll bring his tremendous speed to the offensive side. He has 6-0, 190-pound size and great athleticism.

Senior Dwayne Frampton stepped in from the JUCO ranks and was terrific with a team-leading 69 catches for 738 yards and six touchdowns. A quick 5-9, 180-pounds, he earned Honorable Mention All-Sun Belt honors helped by a 12-catch game against Indiana and a ten-catch performance against WKU. With great hands and the ability to roll across the middle, he's excellent whenever he touches the ball at the H. 5-10, 170-pound sophomore R.J. Fleming did a decent job as a reserve making 12 catches for 83 yards. Ultra-quick, he can be used as a punt returner.

Back at the inside Z position is 6-4, 215-pound junior Allen Muse, a tall, tough target who got a look from LSU and Ole Miss out of high school, and he started to show why last year finishing second on the team with 42 catches for 635 yards and five touchdowns, averaging 15.1 yards per grab. Not just a reliable midrange receiver, he can also hit the home run. 5-11, 185-pound sophomore Carlos McCants has 4.4 wheels and the ability to play any of the team's four receiver positions. He showed off his speed a little bit catching ten passes for 169 yards, averaging 16.9 yards per grab, but he has the ability to do far more.

Is Josh Jarboe ready to finally get his stuff together? A top recruit for Oklahoma, he got the boot, went to Troy, got the boot, and now is trying to reboot his career. The talent is undeniable. At 6-3 and 215 pounds the junior has great size, special skills, and the athleticism to be the best receiver in the Sun Belt. That's if he gets his head screwed on straight.

Redshirt freshman Earl Lucas is a smallish prospect who's perfect for the slot. He'll start out at the Y and will be used as a runner as well as a receiver who can make big things happen when he gets the ball on the move. The 5-9, 157-pound Lucas isn't big, but he's huge compared to 5-7, 165-pound senior Roderick Hall, a smallish jitterbug of a receiver who caught four passes for 49 yards in his limited time.

The receiving corps is strong, but the tight end situation might be just as good helped by the return of starter Kendrick Murry, a 6-3, 265-pound blocker who can also stretch the field when he gets his chances. He only caught nine passes for 77 yards and a score last season, but he averaged 15.6 yards per grab two years ago. While Murry is the bigger, more physical blocker, 6-1, 215-pound junior Andre Smith is more of a receiver. Part tight end and part backup quarterback, he came to ASU as a possible passes and was quickly moved. He caught six passes for 39 yards, but he has the quickness and the skills to be a big part of the passing game.

Watch Out For … Stockemer. Frampton and Muse ended up catching more passes, but Stockemer is the big, strong deep threat who has to play an even bigger role as a gamebreaker. He has been around long enough to be even better.
Strength: Veterans. Three of the top four receivers are back and both tight ends return. This is the year that the receiving corps has been shooting for after losing four of the top five targets going into last year. Now the numbers should be terrific.
Weakness: Tight end catches. Considering Murry and Smith have been around the block and considering they have good hands and route-running ability, 15 catches between the two is unacceptable.
Outlook: With the quarterback situation solid and the running game good, the receivers simply have to keep doing what they've been doing. This was a concern going into last year, and now the corps should be phenomenal with Frampton, Muse, and Stockemer all able to be a No. 1 target in a given week. Throw in the tight end situation, and the Red Wolves are loaded.
Unit Rating: 6

Offensive Line

State of the Unit: The line was excellent last year allowing 23 sacks in 438 passing attempts and doing a decent job for the running game that averaged 4.3 yards per carry. But that was a veteran group that knew what it was doing. Four starters need to be replaced, and now it'll take a mish-mosh of JUCO transfers and backups to fill in the gaps.

The lone returning starter is in the middle with 6-3, 280-pound senior Tom Castilaw back after earning Second Team All-Sun Belt honors. A smart, tough all-around blocker, he returned from a knee injury that knocked him out of the 2009 season, but that helped get him a sixth-year of eligibility that allowed him to return for one more season. Also back is junior Eric Allen, the starter for most of 2009 when Castilaw went down. The 6-1, 300-pounder can work at guard if needed but is far better at center because of his short, squatty size.

Senior Delano Moore is back and ready to be a part of the left tackle job after getting one start against North Texas and serving as a key reserve. At 6-5 and 305 pounds he has decent size and good experience, but he has to prove he can handle himself as a steady pass protector. He'll be backed up by the rotation of sophomore Chris Tolbert and junior Kevin Galindo. The 6-5, 275-pound Tolbert can move, but he's green after not seeing any time last year, while the 6-5, 285-pound Galindo is in from Laney College where he was a terrific run blocker.

Taking over the right tackle job is 6-4, 300-pound junior Zack McKnight, a 6-4, 300-pound option who didn't see time last year but has the size and quickness to be decent both as a run blocker and on the move. 6-5, 305-pound senior James Wilson is in from Arizona Western after working as a starting tackle. The former Vanderbilt Commodore should be a starter at some point and will push McKnight hard.

6-5, 305-pound sophomore Cliff Mitchell saw a little time in four games as a reserve and now will try to take over the right guard job. Wanted by BCS schools like Baylor and Iowa State, he should use his tremendous strength as a solid run blocker. Adding more size to the position is 6-6, 320-pound sophomore Jake Campbell, who saw three games of work in his first season.

Senior Alex Katui used to be a defensive lineman but was moved over to the offensive side. He saw one game of work last year and now will take his 6-3, 305-pound size to the starting left guard job unless 6-4, 295-pound redshirt freshman Alan Wright grabs the job. A tough, talented, physical blocker, he'll be a starter sooner than later.

Watch Out For … Moore at left tackle. The line has to do be decent in pass protection for the machine to work, and that means Moore has to step up and shine from the opening snap. He has the experience and the size to be good, but he needs to be great.
Strength: Seniors. There isn't a lot of overall experience and there are plenty of key parts needing to be replaced, but the line is full of mature blockers who shouldn't need too long to be ready. Three seniors and a junior will get the starting nod.
Weakness: Starting experience. There are few spot starts here and there from some of the new options, but basically it's Castilaw and a few prayers.
Outlook: The line might not be a complete and utter disaster after losing most of the stars, but it's not going to be a fully jelled rock of a unit for a little while. The coaching staff has to find some young players who can step in and produce in a rotation, while the seniors have to play like it from Day One.
Unit Rating: 4.5

- 2011 Arkansas State Preview | 2011 Arkansas State Offense
- 2011 Arkansas State Defense | 2011 Arkansas State Depth Chart
- Arkansas State Previews 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006