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2013 Arkansas State Preview – Defense

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted May 12, 2013


CollegeFootballNews.com 2013 Preview - Arkansas State Red Wolves Defense


Arkansas State Red Wolves

Preview 2013 - Defense


- 2013 Arkansas State Preview | 2013 Arkansas State Offense
- 2013 Arkansas State Defense | 2013 Arkansas State Depth Chart

What You Need To Know: ASU led the Sun Belt in scoring defense and was second in total defense, but it wasn’t great at getting into the backfield and it struggled against the better passing teams. New defensive coordinator John Thompson is a fantastic get for the program, and he should do a nice job with an athletic, veteran crew. Ryan Carrethers is one of the best tackles in the Sun Belt and a strong anchor to work around, while Qushaun Lee is the perfect middle linebacker for the 4-2-5 alignment. The pass rush needs to be better to help out a secondary that hit a bad patch over the second half of last season, but there’s athleticism on the outside and speedsters in the secondary with some shuffling being done to get the best playmakers on the field at the same time. The D will be fine, but there will be times when things don’t work in shootouts. Even so, statistically, this will once again be one of the league’s leading defenses.

Returning Leaders
Tackles: Qushaun Lee, 100
Sacks: Eddie Porter, 2.5
Interceptions: Sterling Young, 2

Star of the defense: Senior DT Ryan Carrethers
Player who has to step up and be a star: Senior DE Eddie Porter
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore SS Chris Humes
Best pro prospect: Carrethers
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Carrethers, 2) LB Qushaun Lee, 3) FS Sterling Young
Strength of the defense: Athleticism, Defensive Tackles
Weakness of the defense: Consistency, Proven Pass Rush

Defensive Line

The defensive front didn’t exactly fly into the backfield last season, having problems with the pass rush and not quite getting enough from the ends. This year, senior Eddie Porter will move from linebacker to full-time defensive end where he needs to use his speed and quickness to get into the backfield. The 6-2, 235-pound veteran has always been a tweener, but now he’ll be on the line more than ever after making 34 tackles with 2.5 sacks and 5.5 tackles for loss. A huge hitter, he led the team with four forced fumbles. At 6-5 and 260 pounds, senior Darius Dunaway is a bigger option who could step up at end if Porter moves back to linebacker. In his limited time he came up with two tackles with a sack.

Porter will be fine, and Chris Stone needs to be dangerous on the other side. The 6-3, 245-pounder came up with 36 tackles with a sack and three tackles for loss and an interception, doing a little of everything up front. While he’s built like a linebacker, he’s a consistent defensive end who’ll be asked to do far more to be disruptive.

The interior of the solid run defense starts with veteran Ryan Carrethers, a 6-2, 310-pound plugger who earned First Team All-Sun Belt honors with 68 tackles with a sack and 3.5 tackles for loss. He’s not going to do much to get into the backfield, but he’s consistent, strong and tough against the power teams. As the only returning starter up front, at least technically, and as the biggest tackle in the mix, he needs to be the anchor.

6-3, 270-pound senior Amos Draper is built like a good three-technique, and he has the talent and skill to put up a big year after earning CFN Freshman All-America honors in 2010 and being a part of the mix over the last few years making 21 tackles with two sacks and eight tackles for loss. A solid interior pass rusher, he’s quick and blows past the lumbering guards. He’ll rotate with 6-4, 283-pound senior Dexter Blackmon, a big body who’s tough to get around and throw over making 17 tackles with a surprising pick. He’s not a pass rusher, but he can move.

Watch Out For … 6-4, 300-pound new recruit Logan Cart, one of the team’s top pickups and a potential anchor for the line. He needs to hit the weights a little bit and needs a little seasoning, but he’s a whale of an interior pass rusher with all the tools to be exactly what the line needs when Carrethers graduates this year.
Strength: Experience. Considering that Carrethers is technically the only returning starter, the line has a slew of veterans to rely on with Porter, Stone and Draper all a part of the mix over the last few years. It won’t be a big jump to go from being a part of a rotation to a full-time starter.
Weakness: Consistent pass rush. The Red Wolves came up with three sacks against ULM, and that was it for the huge games in the backfield. There were only four other games with two sacks, one seven other games and none in the win over Middle Tennessee. The team got by, but it would be nice if there was more pressure.
Outlook: The line should be better. Carrethers is a star to work everything around and Draper is a nice interior presence. Porter and Stone are athletes with the talent and ability to grow into pass rushing terrors with the interior all set.
Unit Rating: 5

Linebackers

Junior Qushaun Lee is living up to his prep hype as an Alabama all-state performer. The 5-11, 225-pounder earned Honorable Mention All-Sun Belt honors last season after finishing second on the team with 100 tackles with an interception and 2.5 tackles for loss, and he turned in a nice year in pass coverage breaking up five passes and forcing two fumbles. A huge hitter with great range, he doesn’t need things funneled his way and has a nose for getting around the football, highlighted by a 13 stop day against Kent State in the GoDaddy.com Bowl. He’ll be backed up by 6-0, 234-pound sophomore Brad Shearin, a transfer from Arkansas with the size and toughness to play in the middle or step in as a third linebacker. He’ll be terrific against the run when he gets his chances.

5-11, 205-pound LaAngelo Albright went from being a nice reserve and special teamer to a decent part of the rotation, but he only saw time in three games making five tackles before getting banged up. While he’s not built to take a pounding, he’s tough, extremely fast and a sure-hitter. If he can stay in one piece, he’ll be one of the team’s leading tacklers. Junior Kyle Coleman is a 6-1, 215-pound defensive back who’ll be moved to linebacker. A high school running back and offensive playmaker moves well, but he proved last year he could hit making 25 stops with two tackles for loss.

Watch Out For … Garrett Kaufman, a 6-1, 225-pound middle linebacker prospect who was an Arkansas high school all-star coming off a 129-tackle season. Sound and tough, he can hold up and be a statistical superstar as soon as he gets his chances.
Strength: Speed. The Red Wolves are going with defensive back-sized linebackers who can move. Lee is a pure linebacker who can pop, and Albright and Coleman should be able to fly around and make things happen.
Weakness: Bulk. There’s a chance Eddie Porter and Chris Stone could move from end to linebacker if absolutely needed, but this isn’t a big group and it’s going to get pounded on against the run. It’s all about athleticism more than power.
Outlook: Lee is a phenomenal all-around playmaker who’ll earn all-star honors, while Albright and Shearin will make big plays and put up nice numbers when given a shot. The two in the 4-2-5 alignment will get the job done.
Unit Rating:

Defensive Backs

In one of the most interesting moves of the offseason, wide receiver Rocky Hayes, who ended up finishing second on the team with 538 rushing yards averaging 9.3 yards per carry and catching ten passes for 45 yards, will be a corner. The 5-11, 177-pound sophomore is fast, extremely quick and has all the tools to become a deadly coverman. He needs to prove he can hit, but he can stay with any receiver in the Sun Belt.

Hayes will likely take over one corner spot, and 5-10, 185-pound junior Andrew Tryon will find a way back in a role after seeing time in every game and starting eight times. He didn’t pick up any passes, but he made 38 tackles with five broken up passes. Really, really fast, he has the wheels, and he was a top pickoff artist in high school with ten interceptions in his senior year, but he has to grow into a better ball-hawker at the collegiate level. Also fighting for a starting job is junior Artez Brown, a 6-0, 170-pound veteran who took over spot late last season and finished the year with 24 tackles with a sack and three broken up passes. With excellent size and good athleticism, he’s going to start and should grow into more of a playmaking corner.

Back at free safety is junior Sterling Young, a solid 6-2, 182-pound big-hitter who came up with 71 tackles with two picks and six broken up passes. With good size and great range, he gets all over the field and is great at coming up with the big stop. He should be in the mix for all-star honors if he can come up with more big plays when the ball is in the air. He’ll be joined by sophomore Chris Humes, a 5-11, 190-pound strong safety who turned into a nice starter as a true freshman making 12 tackles on the season. He wasn’t big against the pass, but he was feeling his way around and found a niche at strong safety.

The Red Wolves will use a fifth defensive back as a nickel defender, and running back Frankie Jackson is going to give it a shot. At 5-9 and 185 pounds he’s not huge, but he’s shifty, physical and can fly. He ran for 315 yards and four scores as part of the rotation and he did a nice job on kickoff returns, but now he’s a defender and has to show he can be consistent.

Watch Out For … Money Hunter, also known as Monshadrick, signed on late in the process and should be one of the team’s top safeties sooner than later. The son of baseball star Torii Hunter was a nice receiver and a good all-around defensive back, and while he’s not a blazer, he has 6-1, 180-pound size and great upside.
Strength: Experience and quickness. With Hayes and Jackson moving to the secondary to go along with Young, Brown and Tyron, the Red Wolves have a world of athleticism, range and speed. There’s also enough of a veteran presence to expect a more consistent season.
Weakness: Good passing teams. ASU was ripped to shreds over a month with Louisiana, North Texas, ULM and Troy combining for 1,494 yards and seven scores a week after giving up three touchdown passes to South Alabama. Rarely a rock against the better passers, the Red Wolves got burned way too often with the overall stats a bit misleading thanks to games against Alcorn State, WKU and others who didn’t throw.
Outlook: The pass rush wasn’t there to help the cause, but the secondary wasn’t exactly a rock. The speed, experience and skill are all there to come up with a better season, and there are several good combinations that can be played around with. There will be interceptions and a few nice games, but there will be times when everything breaks down.
Unit Rating: 5

Special Teams

Senior kicker Brain Davis has All-America potential after nailing 17-of-21 field goals including 3-of-4 shots from beyond 40 yards. He might not have a giant leg, topping out just under 50 yards, but he showed he could be reliable hitting all five of his attempts against Louisiana and nailing nine of his last ten attempts.

The punting game needs lots and lots of work after finishing dead last in the nation netting just 31.43 yards try. The Red Wolves tried two different options and as a team averaged just 35.5 yards per try with the punters coming up with just six kicks inside the 20. For a team that can’t get the ball in the coffin corner, it has a perfectly-named new punter, redshirt freshman Max Coffin. He can’t do any worse.

The return game was awful with ASU averaging 19.2 yards per kickoff return with Rocky Hayes averaging 19 yards per try. He didn’t do much of anything on punt returns, either, averaging just 3.7 yards per try. He’ll once again get a shot at returning punts, while running back David Oku will get more of a shot beefing up the woeful punt return game.

Watch Out For … Oku on punt returns. ASU has to generate something from the returners, and Hayes wasn’t getting the job done. Oku has enough on his plate as a running back, but he’s needed to add some semblance of pop for the special teams.
Strength: Davis. He missed a few chippies, but he turned into an all-star talent with enough of a midrange leg to be counted on from just under 50.
Weakness: Punting and returns. The punting game was just awful, and the coverage teams can’t be blamed giving up just 6.1 yards per try. The Red Wolves needed just 31.43 yards per try and only three other teams – UTSA, Buffalo and Louisville – averaged under 33 yards per pop.
Outlook: There’s lots and lots of room for improvement. The coverage teams were fine and Davis is solid, but the return game was miserable and the punting was awful. The coaching staff will do lots and lots of tweaking, but Davis is a star to get excited about.
Unit Rating: 4.5

- 2013 Arkansas State Preview | 2013 Arkansas State Offense
- 2013 Arkansas State Defense | 2013 Arkansas State Depth Chart