CFN Take: Arkansas St Run Over By Texas State

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Nov 21, 2014


2014 Arkansas State Red Wolves ... Head Coach: Blake Anderson

Arkansas State Red Wolves

2014 Schedule
Record: 6-5

Aug. 30 Montana State W 37-10
Sep. 6 at Tennessee L 34-19
Sep. 13 at Miami L 41-20
Sep. 20 Utah State W 21-14 OT
Sep. 27 OPEN DATE
Oct. 4 ULM W 28-14
Oct. 11 at Georgia St W 52-10
Oct. 21 at La-Lafayette L 55-40
Oct. 25 OPEN DATE
Nov. 1 at Idaho W 44-28
Nov. 8 South Alabama W 45-10
Nov. 15 Appalachian St L 37-32
Nov. 20 at Texas State L 45-27
Nov. 29 New Mexico State
Nov. 20 at Texas State 45, Arkansas State 27
And You Care Because … The Texas State running game went wild with Robert Lowe leading the way with four touchdown runs from 26 and nine yards out in the first half, and scoring dashes from 24 and 50 yards away in the fourth to pull away. The TXST passing game became part of the mix, too, with Tyler Jones starting off the scoring with a two-yard pass to Demun Mercer, and finding C.J. Best for a 70-yard touchdown. ASU stayed alive with two Fredi Knighten touchdown passes, but the Bobcats were able to stay comfortably ahead in the second half.
What Else? Texas State RB Robert Lowe ran 29 times for 236 yards and four scores
- Arkansas State QB Fredi Knighten completed 31-of-57 passes for 366 yards and two touchdowns with a pick, and ran 19 times for 40 yards
- Total yards: Texas State 562 – Arkansas State 498
- Texas State QB Tyler Jones completed 14-of-22 passes for 192 yards and two scores, and ran 18 times for 77 yards
Game Rating: C

Nov. 15 Appalachian State 37, at Arkansas State 32
And You Care Because … Appalachian State got two touchdown runs from Marcus Cox and two scoring passes and a touchdown run from Taylor Lamb as part of a 37-7 scoring run after getting down 13-0. Arkansas State got three touchdown passes from Fredi Knighten, who made it interesting late with a scoring throw from ten yards out to Dairon Griswold and a nine-yard play to Johnston White to pull the Red Wolves within five late, but the Mountaineers were able to close the game down.
What Else? Appalachian State RB Marcus Cox ran 40 times for 229 yards and two touchdowns, and caught two passes for 54 yards
- Arkansas State QB Fredi Knighten completed 14-of-28 passes for 147 yards and three scores, and ran nine times for 35 yards and a touchdown
- Total yards: Appalachian State 549 – Arkansas State 314
- Third down conversions: Appalachian State 7-of-15 – Arkansas State 0-of-11
Game Rating: B+

Nov. 8 at Arkansas State 45, South Alabama 10
And You Care Because … Up 7-3 after the first quarter, Arkansas State cranked out 38 straight points as Fredi Knighten threw two touchdown passes and ran for a score, and Artez Brown returned an interception 58 yards for a touchdown in the blowout. South Alabama only managed a first quarter field goal before finally getting into the end zone on a one-yard Berron Tyson touchdown run late in the fourth.
What Else? Arkansas State QB Fredi Knighten completed 17-of-32 passes for 186 yards and two touchdowns, and ran 14 times for a team-leading 80 yards and a score
- South Alabama QBs combined to complete 9-of-25 passes for 90 yards and three picks
- Total yards: Arkansas State 400 – South Alabama 201
- Third down conversions: Arkansas State 10-of-19 – South Alabama 1-of-12
Game Rating: D

Nov. 1 Arkansas State 44, at Idaho 28
And You Care Because … Michael Gordon started off the scoring with a 44-yard run, and just when it seemed like Idaho was about to answer, Rocky Hayes returned a fumble 93 yards for a touchdown. The Vandals took the lead late into the third quarter with Elijhaa Penny and Jerrel Brown each running for two scores, but ASU and Gordon rolled from there, with the ASU back running for three more touchdowns as part of a 21-unanswered point run.
What Else? Turnovers: Idaho 8 – Arkansas State 1
- Arkansas State RB Michael Gordon ran 17 times for 105 yards and five touchdowns
- Idaho RB Elijhaa Penny ran 16 times for 121 yards and two touchdowns
- Arkansas State QB Fredi Knighten completed 21-of-28 passes for 244 yards, and ran 26 times for 73 yards
Game Rating: B

Oct. 22 at Louisiana-Lafayette 55, Arkansas State 40
And You Care Because … The Ragin’ Cajuns ran wild on Arkansas State as Elijah McGuire and Alonzo Harris each ran for four touchdowns, with McGuire’s 54-yard touchdown run in the final minute put the game away. Down 9-6, ULL’s ground game started to roll with Harris running for two scores and McGuire busting off runs from 74 and 13 yards out as part of a 28 point run that took control of the game. However, ASU wouldn’t go away. Down 34-9, the Red Wolves got a 70-yard scoring dash from Michael Gordon and an 87-yard Dijon Paschal touchdown catch to tighten things up. Paschal caught a second touchdown pass in the fourth, but a Harris four-yard run in the third turned out to be the game-winner.
What Else? Total yards: Arkansas State 595 – ULL 521
- ULL RB Elijah McGuire ran 19 times for 265 yards and four touchdowns, and Alonzo Harris ran 27 times for 107 yards and four touchdowns
- Arkansas State QB Fredi Knighten completed 26-of-37 passes for 344 yards and three touchdowns with a pick, and ran 16 times for 61 yards and a score
- Rushing yards: ULL 419 (7.5 ypc) – ASU 253 (6.8 yp)
Game Rating: B

Oct. 11 Arkansas State 52, at Georgia State 10
And You Care Because … Arkansas State ripped off 24 first quarter points and never let Georgia State get in the game. Fredi Knighten threw three touchdown passes and ripped off a 51-yard scoring run, and Michael Gordon ran for scores from 50 and 11 yards out as the Red Wolves had no problems. GSU managed a second quarter field goal but didn’t get into the end zone until a Gerald Howse two-yard run in the final minutes.
What Else? Arkansas State RB Michael Gordon ran 18 times for 188 yards and two scores
- Georgia State QB Nick Arbuckle completed 18-of-36 passes for 162 yards
- Arkansas State QB Fredi Knighten completed 20-of-26 passes for 215 yards and three touchdowns, and ran 12 times for 93 yards and a score.
- Total yards: Arkansas State 618 – Georgia State 269
Game Rating: D-

Oct. 4 at Arkansas State 28, ULM 14
And You Care Because … It was the Fredi Knighten show as the ASU quarterback ran for scores from three, 29 and 12 yards out, and hit Tyler Trosin for a 12-yard touchdown on the way to a 28-7 lead in a sloppy game. ULM couldn’t slow down the Red Wolves and struggled offensively, getting a 59-yard Ajalen Holley touchdown catch in the early fourth, but up 14-7, ASU took over scoring two touchdowns in less than a minutes. ULM didn’t get back on the board until 1:30 to play on a 41-yard Kenzee Jackson catch.
What Else? ASU QB Fredi Knighten completed 21-of-36 passes for 284 yards and a touchdown with two picks, and ran 20 times for 71 yards and three touchdowns. Michael Gordon ran 15 times for 168 yards
- Turnovers: ASU 3 – ULM 2
- Penalties: ASU 11 for 110 yards – ULM 8 for 69 yards
- ULM QB Pete Thomas completed 23-of-39 passes for 181 yards and a touchdown
Game Rating: C+

Sept. 20 at Arkansas State 21, Utah State 14 OT
And You Care Because … In a miraculous finish, Arkansas State tied the game on a four-yard Johnston White touchdown run late in the fourth, and forced overtime when Artez Brown blocked a 38-yard field goal attempt. In the OT, Fredi Knighten gave ASU the win on a 24-yard touchdown pass to Dijon Paschal. Utah State started out the scoring on a 81-yard Hunter Sharp touchdown catch in the first, and had a 14-7 lead in the third on a 41-yard Ronald Butler touchdown grab, but ASU woke up and came through in the final minutes.
What Else? Penalties: Utah State 11 for 100 yards – Arkansas State 8 for 62 yards
- Turnovers: Arkansas State 4 – Utah State 1
- Arkansas State RB Johsnton White ran 18 times for 100 yards and a score
- Utah State QB Darell Garretson completed 27-of-46 passes for 268 yards and two score with a pick
Game Rating: B+

Sept. 13 at Miami 41, Arkansas State 20
And You Care Because … Brad Kayya threw four touchdown passes finding Phillip Dorsett on two 63-yard scoring plays, and Duke Johnson and Gus Edwards each ran for long scoring runs in a relatively easy win. ASU stayed alive on a Fredi Knighten one-yard touchdown run and a 19-yard catch, but the second Dorsett touchdown catch.
What Else? Miami QB Brady Kaaya completed 16-of-24 passes for 342 yards and four touchdowns with a pick
- Arkansas State QB Fredi Knighten completed 22-of-40 passes for 217 yards, was held to five yards on 19 carries, and caught a 19-yard touchdown pass.
- Miami WR Phillip Dorsett caught four passes for 201 yards and two touchdowns.
- Penalties: Miami 11 for 93 yards – Arkansas State 9 for 84 yards.
Game Rating: C-

Sept. 6 at Tennessee 34, Arkansas State 19
And You Care Because … Justin Worley threw two touchdown passes and ran for a five-yard score to help Tennessee get up 31-12 in the third and break open a tight game, but Arkansas State stayed alive with a 24-yard DeKeathan Williams touchdown run early in the fourth. The Vol defense tightened up and Aaron Medley put the game away with a 38-yard field goal.
What Else? Justin Worley only completed 22-of-38 passes, and he gave up a pick, but he threw for 247 yards and two touchdowns and ran for a score. He continued to build off the good performance against Utah State to settle the Vol quarterback situation.
- Arkansas State killed itself with mistakes with a key turnover and nine penalties that always seemed to come at the wrong times. Tennessee was only flagged twice.
- Fredi Knighten showed why he’s so dangerous and why he’s such a baller. The ASU quarterback completed 21-of-34 passes for 166 yards and a score, and he ran 14 times for a team-leading 65 yards and a score.
- The Vols were great at getting behind the line making nine tackles for loss with Owen Williams coming up with two sacks. A.J. Johnson made nine stops with a tackle for loss and a broken up pass.
Game Rating: B-

Aug. 30 at Arkansas State 37, Montana State 10
And You Care Because … Only up 13-10 in the third quarter, Arkansas State turned it on in the second half with 24 unanswered points with Fredi Knighten finding Darius Griswold for a 23-yard touchdown and Terrance Hollingsworth and Johnston White each running for one-yard scores to put it away. The Red Wolves outgained MSU 547 yards to 229 and didn’t allow a touchdown after the first quarter.
Game Rating: C-

2014 Preview 

As long as the production keeps coming, who cares if the coaches keep on rotating in?

Give Arkansas State credit for knowing how to get top-shelf coaches, losing Hugh Freeze to Ole Miss, Gus Malzahn to Auburn, and now Bryan Harsin to Boise State after each just put in one year of service, and now it’s Blake Anderson’s time.

Known for his skills as an offensive coordinator and a quarterback developer, Anderson is the new whiz kid, but he has to run his own show now and he has to prove that he can keep the momentum going despite never being a head coach. He has a lot to live up to.

Freeze – outright Sun Belt title. Malzahn – outright Sun Belt title. Harsin slipped – tie for the Sun Belt title. All three won championships. All three led their respective teams to a bowl game and left. All three showed that it’s possible to keep reloading at Arkansas State.

However, it’s a new world in the Sun Belt. It’s a stronger league than the previous three coaches had to deal with, and it’s more dangerous with more landmines. With so much turnover on the offensive side, and so much firepower to deal with from several conference rivals, you can’t fault Anderson too much if there’s a bit of a fall off the program’s suddenly high perch. But if can’t be a big one.

The defense that was so average last year should be far better with eight starters returning led by the best secondary in the league. The front seven has the potential to be great, with the addition of Arkansas transfer A.J. Turner making the linebacking corps something special.

The offense was outstanding running the ball last year, tearing off 2,674 yards and 31 touchdowns, but it has to undergo a major overhaul losing four starters up front and needing new starting quarterback Fredi Knighten to be great. And that’s where Anderson comes in, working with the talented and experienced receiving corps and coaching up the new starting QB to shine early on with Tennessee and Miami coming up in September. But Anderson won’t be judged by the first month of the year.

Go to another bowl, keep the production going, and keeping this a winning program are all musts. Oh yeah …

Blake, win another conference championship.


What to watch for on offense: Expect the passing game to rock. Anderson knows how to get an offense going – his North Carolina attacks put up record-setting numbers – and he and offensive coordinator Walt Bell should be able to get even more out of a passing game that was fine and efficient, but didn’t always explode. ASU has been balanced offensively and tend to rock with its rushing game – that’s what happens when you have coaches like Gus Malzahn. Now there will be more of an emphasis on the air show, and that could mean huge numbers for QB Fredi Knighten and top target J.D. McKissic.

What to watch for on defense: The secondary should be special. It’s not like the Red Wolves shut passing games down, allowing 3,028 yards and 20 touchdowns, but it wasn’t awful outside of getting lit up by Corey Robinson and Troy for over 500 yards – it was more of a steady trickle, allowing 200 yards or more in nine of the last 11 games. This year, though, the secondary is where the star power is with corners Rocky Hayes and Artez Brown both destined for All-Sun Belt honors, and with Sterling Young a top free safety who should be one of the league’s best, too. If the pass rush can be steady, the defensive backs will do the rest.

The team will be far better if … the penalties stop. The Red Wolves had problems with the flags last year committing 94 penalties for 783 yards, getting worse and worse as the season went on. ASU committed ten or more in five of the final nine games with 20 in the last two and with 14 against Idaho in the middle of the year for 110 yards. This was an issue under Hugh Freeze committing 90 penalties, but ASU was better in 2012 with 64. Costly in the 34-31 loss to WKU with ten sins, the mistakes might be the difference in a game or two if they don’t stop.

The schedule: The Red Wolves will have some interesting early non-conference matchups with trips to Tennessee and Miami, and the home opener against Montana State won’t be a breeze. The Utah State game is like a low-level bowl matchup, but that ends all the pre-Sun Belt showdowns in mid-September. Beating ULM at home is a must with three straight road games to follow, but two of them are layups against Georgia State and Idaho wrapped around the possible Sun Belt title game against Louisiana-Lafayette. Three of the last four games are at home, getting another huge conference game with South Alabama to kick it off and with manageable dates with Appalachian State, Texas State and New Mexico State to close.

Best offensive player: Junior WR J.D. McKissic. It would’ve been center Bryce Giddens, but he needed to retire after head issues. A good punt returner and one of the nation’s elite kickoff returner, averaging 30 yards per pop and 8.5 per punt return, and was the team’s top target by far with 82 catches for 662 yards and four scores. While he has the pop and explosion to do more, he was more of a short-to-midrange target. With even more of an emphasis on the passing game, he could flirt with 100 catches, but he’ll be keyed on with key receivers Julian Jones and Allen Muse gone.

Best defensive player: Senior LB Qushaun Lee. The secondary will be where the stars are and should be the team’s biggest strength, and there are some nice pass rushers up front, but this is Lee’s defense in what should be another all-star season. Helped out by the addition of transfer A.J. Turner, Lee won’t have to do it all, but he should still be among the Sun Belt’s top tacklers and a force in the middle. He’s not big, but he’s quick, active and can hold up well. The potential is there for Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year honors.

Key player to a successful season: Junior QB Fredi Knighten. Adam Kennedy was the typical Arkansas State quarterback last season hitting close to 70% of his passes for 2,363 yards and 11 touchdowns, and he finished second on the team with 524 rushing yards and four scores. Now it’s Knighten’s turn. The veteran saw time last year and did a good job, but can he be more of a passer and not just a good rushing threat? He’s not a big bomber, and he’s more of a baller, but with the improved defense and with eight starters gone off the offense, the quarterback has to shine – Knighten needs to be great.

The season will be a success if … the Red Wolves win the Sun Belt title. At this point, even with yet another coaching change, and even with eight starters gone on offense, and even with so many good, strong teams in the Sun Belt, and even with everyone gunning for them, if the Red Wolves don’t win the conference championship, the season will be a major disappointment.

Key game: Oct. 21 at Louisiana-Lafayette. South Alabama is strong, ULM will be dangerous, and Troy and Georgia Southern are going to be players, but the season could and should come down to the Tuesday night showdown with the Ragin’ Cajuns. ULL won last year 23-7 at ASU to make up for a 50-27 blowout from the Red Wolves in 2012. If this doesn’t decide the title, it’ll go a long way to determining the champion.

2013 Fun Stats:
- Penalties: Arkansas State 94 for 783 yards – Opponents 70 for 556 yards
- Tackles for Loss: Opponents 91 for 317 yards – Arkansas State 71 for 297 yards
- Completion %: Arkansas State 69.3% - Opponents 55.2%

- 2014 Arkansas State Preview - What You Need To Know & Top Players

 

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