CFN Preview 2013 - Arkansas State Red Wolves
Arkansas State RB David Oku
Arkansas State RB David Oku
Posted May 12, 2013 2013 Preview - Arkansas State Red Wolves

Arkansas State Red Wolves

Preview 2013

- 2013 Arkansas State Preview | 2013 Arkansas State Offense
- 2013 Arkansas State Defense | 2013 Arkansas State Depth Chart
- Arkansas State Previews 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006

- Suggestions or something we missed? Let us know
- Follow us ... @ColFootballNews

By Pete Fiutak

Head coach: Bryan Harsin
1st year: 0-0
Returning Lettermen: 52
Off. 28, Def. 21, ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 22
Ten Best ASU Players
1. RB/KR David Oku, Sr.
2. DT Ryan Carrethers, Sr.
3. WR J.D. McKissic, Soph.
4. LB Qushaun Lee, Jr.
5. OT Aaron Williams, Sr.
6. OG Steven Haunga, Sr.
7. FS Sterling Young, Jr.
8. DT Amos Draper, Sr.
9. TE Darion Griswold, Soph.
10. DE Eddie Porter, Sr.
2013 Schedule
8/31 Arkansas State-Pine Bluff
9/7 at Auburn
9/12 Troy
9/21 at Memphis
9/28 at Missouri
10/12 Idaho
10/23 Louisiana
11/2 at South Alabama
11/9 at ULM
11/16 Texas State
11/23 Georgia State
11/30 at WKU
It's one thing to be known as a coaching factory, but this is getting silly.

No, Arkansas State isn't a destination job, but it would be nice if new head man Bryan Harsin could stick around for more than just a cup of coffee.

For Red Wolves fans who lived through a rough stretch from 1990 to 2010 with just one winning season, if the revolving door of head coaches keeps bring the results of the last few seasons, fine.

Hugh Freeze is a one-and-done, but he gets ASU to a 10-2 2011 regular season and a Sun Belt title? Cool. Gus Malzahn follows the same path and hangs around for one year and helps to lead the way to a second straight ten-win season and another Sun Belt championship? Solid. Now it's time for Harsin to do the same things and have the same success, but stick around for a little while. In the new, depleted world of the Sun Belt with several programs taking off for Conference USA, anything less than another banner, another bowl game and another big year will be seen as a painful disappointment.

Fortunately for Harsin, this year's team has enough talent, experience and athleticism to have another great year, with most of the key holes likely to be filled without a problem and with more than enough options on defense to form a nice rotation across the board.

Step One for Harsin will be to keep the offensive production moving, and considering he cut his teeth as the offensive coordinator at Boise State, that shouldn't be a problem. The rushing attack gets back leading rusher David Oku, and all the quarterback options can run and add some pop to the mix. The receiving corps will be dangerous around the steadiness of all-star J.D. McKissic, and four starters are back to a line that turned into the best in the Sun Belt.

Defensively, the secondary needs to be tighter and the pass rush has to be better, but overall the results should be terrific with a great middle in tackle Ryan Carrethers, linebacker Qushaun Lee and safety Sterling Young. The special teams might be a bit rocky, but outside of the placekicking they were miserable last season and ASU didn't have much of a problem.

So now Harsin has to come out of the box roaring at what has become both a stepping-stone gig and one with huge expectations. For ASU, yeah, no matter how everything shakes out, all is fine as long as the double-digit win seasons keep coming.

What to watch for on offense: The quarterback situation. Ryan Aplin put together an epic career completing 64% of his passes for his career for 10,753 yards and 67 touchdowns while also running for 1,756 yards with 31 scores – he did a little of everything as the Sun Belt's biggest star over the last few years. Now he has to be replaced, and it's going to be the first big decision for the new coaching staff with four terrific prospects in veteran Phillip Butterfield, sophomores Stephen Hogan and Fredi Knighten and junior Chandler Rogers all able to produce. The coaches have to find one guy and stick with him, but there's going to be a controversy no matter what.

What to watch for on defense: The 4-2-5 alignment. The Red Wolves will switch around alignments as needed, but there isn't a lot of bulk at linebacker and there's plenty of speed and athleticism to play around with. The front four will be outstanding with linebackers Eddie Porter and Chris Stone working on the outside and tackles Ryan Carrethers and Amos Draper as good as any pair in the Sun Belt. There aren't many huge-bodied linebackers to work around Qushaun Lee in the middle, relying on running back Frankie Jackson at nickel back and working with a slew of speedsters in the secondary to come up with more big plays.

The team will be far better if … the special teams aren't so God-awful. Kicker Brian Davis is more than fine after nailing 17-of-21 field goals, and the coverage teams weren't bad, but the punting and return games were among the worst in America. Max Coffin takes over at punter to try to solidify a situation that was never right throughout last season. ASU finished dead last in college football in net punting as the only team to net fewer than 32.57 yards per kick – averaging 31.43 yards per try. The punt return game went nowhere averaging fewer than 4.3 yards per attempt, and the kickoff returners averaged an awful 19.24 yards per try.

The schedule: The Red Wolves have to come up with several big replacements, but they'll get one week to try tuning up getting Arkansas State-Pine Bluff. Going on the road three times in four weeks with dates at Auburn, Memphis and Missouri wrapped around the Sun Belt opener against Troy will be a test, and then it's time to rest with just one game – Idaho – from the end of September until late October. It's a Sun Belt run to close things out with three of the last five on the road and with ULM and WKU away from Jonesboro.

Best offensive player: Senior RB David Oku, and there's no argument if you want to say its sophomore WR J.D. McKissic. All the 5-10, 185-pound McKissic did was crank out 103 yards for 1,022 yards and five touchdowns on the way to a dominant season, getting better as the year went on, but Oku is a better player. The former Tennessee Vol took over the running game tearing off 1,061 yard and 16 touchdowns and finishing fourth on the team in receiving. Now he'll try to add more pop to the punt return game.

Best defensive player: Senior DT Ryan Carrethers. The Red Wolves don't have another 300-pounder up front, but they have an all-star who should be the leader and main man to occupy the interior. He's the one everything is going to work around – again. A decent interior pass rusher, the 6-2, 310-pound senior is a fantastic run stopper and the strong anchor who helps make everything else go.

Key player to a successful season: Senior DE Eddie Porter or sophomore DE Chris Stone. The quarterback situation will sort itself out and be fine, but the defense needs a steadier pass rush. The defensive production turned out to be solid overall, but there weren't enough big hits on the quarterback and now it'll be up to a pair of linebackers to do more from the outside. Porter and Stone are decent-sized linebackers who'll put up big numbers as they get to pin their ears back to get behind the line. At least that's the hope.

The season will be a success if … ASU wins ten games again. There's no reason to set the bar any lower, even with the loss of a Player of the Year quarterback in Ryan Aplin and with a new coaching staff trying to find its way. It'll be tough to get wins on the road at Auburn and Missouri, but everything else is fair game including a late road trip to Western Kentucky. Nine wins and a bowl victory wouldn't be a bad transitional season under Harsin.

Key game: Nov. 30 at Western Kentucky. The Hilltoppers are the only ones in the Sun Belt to have beaten the Red Wolves over the last two seasons, and this year the showdown at the end of the regular season could and should decide the conference title in some way. The Louisiana game is at home and the ULM battle will be dangerous, but ASU won't likely be able to pull out a title without finishing up with a victory.

2012 Fun Stats:
- Penalties: Opponents 89 for 698 yards – Arkansas State 64 for 598 yards
- Fourth Down Conversions: Opponents 23-of-33 (70%) – Arkansas State 7-of-14 (50%)
- Arkansas State 3rd Quarter Scoring: 130 – Arkansas State 4th Quarter Scoring: 69

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