2007 Arkansas State Preview

Posted Apr 18, 2007

Preview 2007 Arkansas State Indians Preview

Arkansas State Indians

Preview 2007

By Pete Fiutak

2007 ASU Offense Preview | 2007 ASU Defense Preview
2007 ASU Depth Chart | 2006 CFN ASU Preview 

After winning the 2005 Sun Belt title and going to the New Orleans Bowl, 2006 was a bit of a letdown despite going 6-6. Now the team should be one of the favorites for the championship with the best team head coach Steve Roberts has put together.

While the talent is there, the team has to start being more consistent and has to take advantage of all its opportunities. After a great 5-2 start, the Indians lost four of their last five in a maddening stretch that saw them lose three key Sun Belt showdowns against Florida Atlantic, Middle Tennessee and UL Lafayette by a combined score of 95 to 23, but beat eventual conference champion Troy on the road 33-26. Game-in-and-game-out consistency was an issue in 2005 as well, but if this group is as good as expected, that won’t be a problem if the inexperience of last year turns into production.

Head coach: Steve Roberts 
6th year: 26-34
14th year: 75-67-1
Returning Lettermen: 53
Lettermen Lost: 18
Ten Best ASU Players
1. SS Tyrell Johnson, Sr.
2. RB Reggie Arnold, Soph.
3. FS Khayyam Burns, Sr.
4. LB Koby McKinnon, Sr.
5. OT Matt Mandich, Jr.
LB Ben Owens, Jr.
7. DT Prince Hickman, Sr.
8. DE Brian Flagg, Jr.
9. WR Levi Dejohnette, Sr.
10. CB Darren Toney, Sr.
2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction: COMING
Sept. 1 at Texas
Sept. 8 Memphis
Sept. 15 SMU
Sept. 22 at Tennessee
Oct. 6 at UL Monroe
Oct. 13 UL Lafayette
Oct. 20 at Middle Tenn.
Oct. 27 Troy
Nov. 3 FIU
Nov. 10 at Florida Atlantic
Nov. 17 North Texas
Nov. 24 at Southern Miss

2006 Schedule
2006 Record:

9/2 Army W 14-6
9/9 Oklahoma St L 35-7
9/23 at SMU L 55-9
9/30 at FIU W 31-6
10/7 UL Monroe W 10-6
10/14 at Memphis W 26-23
10/21 North Texas W 29-10
10/28 at Florida Atlantic L 29-0
11/4 at Auburn L 27-0
11/11 MTSU L 38-10
11/18 at Troy W 33-26
11/25 at UL Lafayette L 28-13

The quarterback situation took the entire season to figure out with Corey Leonard and Travis Hewitt each taking turns doing next to nothing for the passing game. Fortunately, both could run and both could hand off to star back Reggie Arnold, who has Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year written all over him before his career is up. The line has to replace three key starters, but ASU is always good at filling in the blanks up front.

The other side of the ball is where there’s reason to get very, very excited with many of the top players returning from the league’s second best total defense. Linebacker Koby McKinnon and the Sun Belt’s best safety tandem, Tyrell Johnson and Khayyam Burns, lead a strong defensive back seven that should be excellent against the pass. If replacements can quickly be found for three lost starters on the line, and the injured playmakers who missed time throughout last year (primarily DE Brian Flagg) can shine, ASU will win most league games on defense alone.

Everything is there for one of the Sun Belt’s best programs to be a champion for the second time in three years. It’ll be New Orleans Bowl or bust.

What to watch for on offense: The passing game won’t be as bad, while the ground game should be a little worse. Reggie Arnold could become the league’s best back, but there’s just enough of a drop-off on the line to expect a fall off in overall rushing production. While the offense will revolve around running the ball, Corey Leonard has to be more efficient. They won’t bomb away despite having one of the Sun Belt’s fastest, most experienced and most talented receiving corps, but he has to move the chains and be far better than 117th in the nation in passing efficiency.

What to watch for on defense: More sacks and more pressure into the backfield. Partly by design and partly by poor play from the ends, ASU registered a pitiful 13 sacks and 55 tackles for loss. While it might take a while for the line to improve on the numbers, the coaching staff might take more chances with the linebacking corps to make it more disruptive. The secondary will be among the Sun Belt’s best.

The team will be far better if … the offense can score. Getting stopped cold by Auburn and Oklahoma State is one thing, but scoring 13 points or fewer in four Sun Belt games is inexcusable. Getting more from the passing game will go a long way to generating more points.

The Schedule: It’s not bad. There are the typical forget-about-it road games at Texas and Tennessee, but the rest of the slate is manageable with Memphis and SMU coming to Jonesboro and a regular-season ender against a Southern Miss team that might be resting most of its top players for the Conference USA championship. In Sun Belt play, it all comes down to a three game October stretch against UL Lafayette, Middle Tennessee and Troy. Fortunately, the key battles with the Ragin’ Cajuns and Trojans are at home.

Best Offensive Player: Sophomore RB Reggie Arnold. He doesn't have to carry the entire workload with a good group of backup running backs to help him out, but he has the talent to do it. He's a near-lock to run for 1,000 yards with decent size, great speed and a good burst. Now he has to get in the end zone more after only scoring four times.

Best Defensive Player: Senior SS Tyrell Johnson. The three-time All-Sun Belt selection can do a little bit of everything well with the speed to play free safety and the hitting ability to be a superstar at strong safety. He has 269 career tackles with seven interceptions and 11 broken up passes.

Key player to a successful season: Senior C Heath Lockley. The ASU O line loses three starters, but it should be fine as long as the production is there in the middle. JUCO transfer Brandon Ciaramitaro could end up winning the job when all is said and done, but Lockley will likely start the season trying to replace Tanner Jenkins as the leader in the middle of the line.

The season will be a success if ... Arkansas State wins the Sun Belt title. With Troy and UL Lafayette at home, there's no reason to shoot for anything less with the running game and secondary returning. As long as Leonard is halfway decent throwing the ball, the offense should explode and roll over most Sun Belt defenses.

Key game: Oct. 20 at Middle Tennessee. The Indians can afford a split with UL Lafayette and Troy as long as it gets by the Blue Raiders, who won 38-10 last season. A win would set the tome for the second half of the season and would likely make ASU the lead dog in the pack.

2006 Fun Stats: 
- Sacks: Opponents 37 for 249 yards – Arkansas State 13 for 103 yards
- Time of possession: Arkansas State 33:03 – Opponents 26:43
- Punt returns: Opponents 8 yards per return – Arkansas State 3.8



Related Stories
2007 Arkansas State Preview - Offense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Apr 17, 2007
2007 Arkansas State Preview - Defense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Apr 17, 2007
2007 Arkansas State Preview - Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Apr 17, 2007

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