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CFN Take: Arkansas State Loses Late To WKU

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Nov 30, 2013


2013 Arkansas State Red Wolves ... Head Coach: Bryan Harsin


Arkansas State Red Wolves

2013 Record: 7-5
8/31 ASU-Pine Bluff W 61-11
9/7 at Auburn L 38-9
9/12 Troy W 41-34
9/21 at Memphis L 31-7
9/28 at Missouri L 41-16
10/5 OPEN DATE
10/12 Idaho W 48-24
10/19 OPEN DATE
10/23 Louisiana L 23-7
11/2 at South Alabama W 17-16
11/9 at ULM W 42-14
11/16 Texas State W 38-21
11/23 Georgia State W 35-33
11/30 at WKU L 34-31
at WKU 34, Arkansas State 31
Basically … Willie McNeal caught a two-yard touchdown pass with ten seconds to play to give the Hilltoppers the win in a back-and-forth game. WKU got up 20-7 helped by Brandon Doughty touchdown passes, but ASU roared back with 17 straight points on two Fredi Knighten touchdown runs and a 45-yard Brian Davis field goal but WKU got back on track with a two-yard Antonio Andrews touchdown dash late in the third. The Red Wolves got a six-yard touchdown catch from Julian Jones to get the lead back, but WKU took over late for the win.
- Arkansas State committed ten penalties for 78 yards, WKU committed seven for 56 yards.
- WKU RB Antonio Andrews ran 20 times for 119 yards and a score, and he caught four passes for 58 yards.
- Arkansas State RB Michael Gordon ran 19 times for 132 yards.
- WKU QB Brandon Doughty completed 21-of-37 passes for 255 yards and three scores.

Utah State 28 at UNLV 24
Basically … Bruce Natson ran for a 12-yard score in the final four minutes for a four point Aggie lead. UNLV marched down to the Utah State 12 but Caleb Herring’s fourth down pass to Devante Davis was incomplete and Utah State survived. Herring threw two touchdown passes and Tim Cornett ran for a touchdown, but Utah State always had an answer as Darrell Garretson found Shaan Johnson for a five-yard score and Natson and Joey DeMartino each ran for short scores.
- Utah State WR Travis Reynolds caught seven passes for 129 yards and Travis Van Leeuwen added four catches for 112 yards.
- UNLV QB Caleb Herring completed 17-of-39 passes for 252 yards and two scores with a pick, and he ran nine times for 27 yards.
- UNLV RB Tim Cornett ran 29 times for 115 yards and a score.
- Utah State QB Darrel Garretson completed 16-of-28 passes for 288 yards and a score.

Arkansas State 17, at South Alabama 16
Basically … Sirgregory Thornton ran for a six-yard touchdown with the conversion giving Arkansas State a 17-16 lead, and the defense held on stopping the Jaguars on their final two drives. USA started held a 6-0 halftime lead on two Aleem Sunanon field goals, but ASU took the lead on a 12-yard Adam Kennedy touchdown run. Kendall Houston’s two-yard run and a third Sunanon field goal gave USA the lead back midway through the fourth, but the Red Wolves answered with the Thornton score.
- Arkansas State QB Adam Kennedy completed 15-of-17 passes for 136 yards, and he led the team with 65 rushing yards with a score on 16 carries.
- South Alabama QB Ross Metheny completed 15-of-29 passes for 228 yards with a pick, and he ran 17 times for a team-leading 77 yards.
- ASU committed 11 penalties for 73 yards. USA got nailed for just three.
- South Alabama Scott Garber put four of his six punts inside the 20, averaging 42 yards per kick.

Louisiana-Lafayette 23 … at Arkansas State 7
Basically … Louisiana-Lafayette got up 17-0 helped by two Alonzo Harris touchdown runs, and cruised from there allowing just a three-yard Adam Kennedy touchdown run late in the third. ULL answered with the second of three Stephen Brauchle field goals on the day, kicking off a 6-0 run to close it out.
- The Ragin’ Cajuns now have full and total control of the Sun Belt chase. They needed this win to get a leg up on just about everyone else, and now the conference title is there for the taking. Give Terrance Broadway credit for being calm as he tried to overcome an awful performance against ASU last year – he completed 18-of-28 passes for 205 yards with a pick. He needed need to carry an offense that ran for 265 yards and came up with two 100-yard rushers in Elijah McGuire and Alonzo Harris.
- Losers of three of the last four, ASU came up with the wrong time for a nationally televised clunker. The Red Wolves never had the ball, with the offense failing to come up with steady drives as they lost the time of possession battle 42:18 to 17:42. There was absolutely no pop, with 18 yards the lone big play. ASU has to find playmakers who can be the go-to guy.

at Arkansas State 48, Idaho 24
Basically … Arkansas State had a 31-7 lead in the third quarter thanks to four touchdown passes from Adam Kennedy, but Idaho came back to make it interesting with 17 straight points highlighted by a 15-yard Dezmon Epps touchdown catch. The Red Wolves took back control in the fourth quarter with 17 unanswered points with J.D. McKissic answering a one-yard James Baker touchdown run with a return for a score on the ensuing kickoff. David Oku put it away on a three-yard scoring run.
- Arkansas State got up big right away thanks to a red hot Adam Kennedy, and then it had to turn the intensity back on after losing a little bit of fight. The J.D. McKissic return for a score sparked the finishing kick, but it would’ve been nice if there wasn’t a need for a big run at the end. Kennedy’s 375 passing yards turned out to be enough. However, going forward, the penalties have to stop after getting nailed 14 times.
- Idaho has to find a way to stop getting bombed on in the first half. Fresno State blew up big a few weeks ago, and this week Arkansas State destroyed the Vandals right away. Taylor Davis and the passing game just aren’t strong enough to keep up the pace, but Idaho has to control the clock and move the chains early on so it can at least be in the game and not have to mount a furious comeback. Give credit to the team for fighting back, and James Baker did his part with 150 yards and two scores on the ground, but it was another blowout loss in a rough season.

at Missouri 41, Arkansas State 19
Basically … Missouri was a bit sluggish early on, down 16-14 in the third quarter, but in the rain, it got three touchdown passes from James Franklin with two to Dorial Green-Beckham, starting out with a 68-yard scoring play in the second quarter. However, Arkansas State was ahead early with three Brian Davis field goals and a 17-yard Julian Jones touchdown catch. Mizzou took control in the third quarter and dominated the rest of the way, outscoring the Red Wolves 27-3.
- It might not have been a perfect performance, and it might have taken a little while to get rolling, but Missouri did what it needed to get by. James Franklin continues to be impressive, completing 20-of-29 passes for 255 yards and three scores, and he ran for 33 yards and a touchdown. Once everyone got settled in, the game was over in the second half.
- Arkansas State wasted an opportunity. The defense didn’t hold up, but the offense settled to field goal after field goal when the chances were there to take a big lead early on. Brian Davis came through with four field goals, but the score could’ve easily have been 24-14 ASU in the first half instead of 16-14 Tigers.
- It seems like Dorial Green-Beckham is on the verge of going from great to truly special. He only caught four passes, but they went for 95 yards and two touchdowns. He doesn’t have to make 11 catches per outing, but he’s looking the part of a true No. 1. Defensively, Mizzou’s Andrew Wilson came up with 17 stops, stuffing the ASU ground game.
- Adam Kennedy threw for 308 yards and a touchdown, doing what he could for the ASU offense. It wasn’t enough, especially in the second half. The yards were there, but the offense sputtered and couldn’t score when it had to. It couldn’t keep up the pace.

at Memphis 31, Arkansas State 7
Basically … Memphis got the offense rolling early with a six-yard Brandon Hayes run and a six-yard scoring grab from Alan Gross, and after Arkansas State came up with a 15-yard J.D. McKissic touchdown catch, it was all Tigers the rest of the way with 17 unanswered points. The Tiger offense put the game away on a five-yard Sam Craft scoring run and a 16-yard Marquis Warford dash.
- Where did that come from? All of a sudden, everything clicked for the Memphis offense, with Paxton Lynch throwing smartly and effectively, and the running game rolling at will. Marquis Warford tore off a 63-yard dash on the way to 173 yards on just 11 carries. Everything worked when it needed to.
- What happened to the Arkansas State attack? The passes went nowhere and the running game was completely bottled up. David Oku couldn’t break free, running 12 times for 45 yards.
- Could this be the game the Tigers use to build on? It was sharp, effective and energetic with everything working when it needed to. If the offensive line keeps playing like this, MU will be dangerous.
- Where was the ASU run defense? After a wild win over Troy, the team was sluggish and didn’t seem to ever get into the right position. Memphis did whatever it wanted.

at Arkansas State 41, Troy 34, Sept. 12
Basically … Fredi Knighten ran for a 13-yard touchdown with just under four minutes to play to hold off a mistake-prone, but explosive Troy. Corey Robinson led the Trojans to 614 yards of total offense with two touchdowns, but he threw three interceptions and the team lost four turnovers. Michael Gordon ran for scoring dashes from 11 and 64 yards out in the third, and Chandler Worthy caught a 53-yard scoring play to help Troy tie it, but the Red Wolves scored too quickly. Robinson got down to the ASU 26, but his final throw was picked off.
- The Red Wolves did everything possible to get to Robinson. There were only two sacks, but the nine tackles for loss helped counteract so many big plays.
- Michael Gordon was a key to the ASU offense with 115 yards and two third quarter touchdowns, including a 64-yarder, on just eight carries. David Oku also added two rushing scores.
- Robinson spread the ball around, but Eric Thomas and Bryan Holmes made the most noise, combing for 12 passes for 242 yards and two score. In all 12 players caught passes.
- It’s not like the Arkansas State defense slowed things down, but Qushaun Lee did his part with 12 tackles. He helped stop the Troy ground game, but the secondary was torn up.

at Auburn 38, Arkansas State 9, Sept. 7
Basically … Nick Marshall threw two first half touchdown passes, including a 68-yarder to Sammie Coates, but it was the running game that dominated with touchdown runs from Corey Grant, Tre Mason and Cameron Artis-Payne. The Tigers tore off 301 yards on the ground. Arkansas State only managed three Brian Davis field goals.
- Auburn didn’t get fancy, as Gus Malzahn coached against his old team, getting the running game early and efficiently. The Tigers didn’t necessarily control the clock, but they had a hold of the game from the start.
- The defense bent, but it did a fantastic job of holding up well and not allowing ASU convert drives into touchdowns. The Tigers stopped the Red Wolves on all three fourth down chances.
- Nick Marshall wasn’t explosive in his second game as the Auburn starting quarterback, but he was more effective. Meanwhile Cameron Artis-Payne turned into the rushing star with 102 yards on 19 carries. Tre Mason added 99 yards on 14 carries.
- The ASU offensive line had a problem keeping up with the quickness of the Auburn defensive front. The Tigers were always behind the line, making 12.5 tackles for loss, and not letting the Red Wolves get their running game started.

at Arkansas State 62, Arkansas-Pine Bluff 11
Basically … Arkansas State ripped off the first 62 points of the game helped by two David Oku touchdowns runs and two more from Fredi Knighten and Sirgregory Thornton. However, Michael Gordon had the highlight with a 91-yard scoring dash as part of a 34-point second quarter.
- This was the working definition of a light scrimmage. ASU was able to get the new coaching staff’s feet wet with the running game rumbling for 509 yards and the passing attack nearly perfect. The two lost fumbles didn’t make a difference.
- Four Red Wolves ran for 100 yards or more and three scored two touchdowns. There was no need for Adam Kennedy to push the passing game, but he was efficient and effective.
- The ASU defense didn’t exactly have to extend itself, but it got the job done. Pine-Bluff had to ignore the ground game early on, but it still tried running the ball and was stuff for just 12 yards on 31 carries. The pass rush was fantastic.

Spring Analysis

Why To Be Excited Many of the pieces are still in place from the powerhouses that rolled through the last few seasons. Four starters return to the offensive line with Aaron Williams at left tackle the best of the bunch helping to pave the way for running back David Oku. Replacements are needed across the defensive front, but the secondary should be among the best in the league with three starters returning.

Why To Be Grouchy There has to be a step back. Head coach Bryan Harsin has some tough shoes to fill over the success of the last few seasons, but the bigger problem is the loss of all-star quarterback Ryan Aplin and leading tackler Nathan Herrold. Phillip Butterfield and Fredi Knighten will battle it out to take over for Aplin, but the focus this spring should be on a defensive front seven that loses four starters.

What Needs Working On The special teams can’t be much worse. Brian Davis is one of the team’s biggest positives hitting 17-of-21 field goals last year, but that’s about it for the special teams. The punting game was the worst in America netting 31.43 yards per kick, but Neely Sullivent is gone. Oku and the kickoff return unit didn’t do much, while the punt return game averaged an abysmal 4.27 yards per try. Defensively, coming up with more of a pass rush is a must after coming up with a mere 19 sacks.

Non-Conference Games: Arkansas State-Pine Bluff, at Auburn, at Memphis, at Missouri, Idaho
Realistic Best Case Record: 9-3
Worst Case Record: 5-7
Likely Finish: 7-5
Pre-Preseason Projected Wins: Arkansas State-Pine Bluff, Troy, at Memphis, Idaho, at South Alabama, Texas State, Georgia State
Pre-Preseason Projected Losses: at Auburn, at Missouri, Louisiana, at ULM, at WKU

Schedule Analysis: 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.

Team Concerns For 2013: The Red Wolves first and foremost have to hope that Bryan Harsin can be the next great head coach after Hugh Freeze and Gus Malzahn were so successful. More than anything else, his team has to be far, far better on special teams. The placekicking was fine, but the punting game was the worst in the nation and the return game was miserable. Offensively, replacing Ryan Aplin will be a chore, and it won't be a plus to not have receivers Taylor Stockemer and Josh Jarboe to help out the new starter. The defense has to generate more of a pass rush.

The 2013 Class Is Heavy On ... Defensive backs. It's not a star-studded class, but it's not too bad considering the coaching change. JUCO transfer Chandler Rogers will boost the quarterback depth, while defensive tackle Logan Carl was a great get who'll eventually anchor the line. Eventually, receiver Dijon Paschal will be a No. 1 target. Safety Jeremy Fulcher and corner Mark Johnson lead a deep group of defensive back options to build around for the next few seasons.

2012 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 80. That Class Was Heavy On ... Skill players. Last year’s class focused mostly on the offensive backfield, and the transfer of Auburn’s Michael Dyer will eventually give new head coach Gus Malzahn a star to work around, but this year’s class is about to be loaded with running backs. Quarterback is the concern going into 2013, and this year’s class will bring options. 

2011 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 96. That Class Was Heavy On ... The offensive backfield. The defensive front got the most help last year and the receiving corps of 2009 should come into its own this year, and now the skill players are in place for the backfield of the near future. Speedy RB Artez Brown is the gem of the class, but Quintin Sparkmon has nice potential. Quarterbacks Darion Griswold and J.D. McKissic are totally different prospects. The 6-5, 240-pound Griswold is the passer, the 5-8, 170-pound McKissic is the runner.

2010 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 106. That Class Was Heavy On ... Defensive linemen. While the offense got a lot of help, especially at running back with the instant help from JUCO transfer Dwayne Frampton and his sub-4.4 speed, but the defense will get the most immediate upgrade with two fantastic linebacker prospects in Quashaun Lee and JUCO transfer Michael Lombardo and four strong defensive linemen. JUCO transfers Blake Chavis and Brandon Joiner each likely to start or at least be major factors in the end rotation.

2009 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 116. That Class Was Heavy On ... Receivers. QB Phillip Butterfield is the star of the show here, and he’ll have plenty of targets to work with including Carlos McCants, a smallish, quick receiver who should be a number one target at some point. JUCO transfer Lucious Henderson is for right now. The defense was almost completely ignored.  



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