2008 CFN Arkansas State Preview
Arkansas State QB Corey Leonard
Arkansas State QB Corey Leonard
Posted Apr 11, 2008

CollegeFootballNews.com 2008 Preview - Arkansas State Indians

Arkansas State Red Wolves

Preview 2008

By Pete Fiutak

- 2008 CFN Arkansas State Preview |
2008 ASU Offense
2008 ASU Defense | 2008 ASU Depth Chart
2007 CFN ASU Preview | 2006 CFN ASU Preview 

There's rebuilding and then there's revamping. Arkansas State, after a slightly disappointing 5-7 season, has to rebuild some areas, revamp others, and hope to get a few more breaks.

The biggest change is the nickname as they're now the Red Wolves and not the Indians. While that might sound more like a plug for an energy drink than anything that would inspire fear, it's still a new direction for a program that's already on the right track.

Head coach: Steve Roberts 
7th year: 31-41
15th year: 80-74-1
Returning Lettermen: 46
Lettermen Lost: 18
Ten Best ASU Players
1. RB Reggie Arnold, Jr.
2. QB Corey Leonard, Jr.
3. OT Matt Mandich, Sr.
4. WR/KR Brandon Thompkins, Jr.
5. LB Ben Owens, Sr.
6. DE Brian Flagg, Sr.
7. TE David Johnson, Sr.
8. DE Alex Carrington, Jr.
9. QB Travis Hewitt, Sr.
10. CB Corderious Mingo, Sr.

2008 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 5-7
2008 Record:

Aug. 30 at Texas A&M
Sept. 6 Texas Southern 
Sept. 13 Southern Miss
Sept. 20 Middle Tennessee
Sept. 27 at Memphis
Oct. 11 UL Monroe
Oct. 18 at UL Lafayette
Nov. 1 at Alabama
Nov. 8 at FIU
Nov. 22 Florida Atlantic
Nov. 29 at North Texas
Dec. 6 at Troy

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 3-9
2007 Record:

Sept. 1 at Texas L 21-13
Sept. 15 SMU W 45-28
Sept. 22 at Tennessee L 48-27
27 Memphis W 35-31
Oct. 6 at UL Monroe L 30-13
Oct. 13
UL Lafayette W 52-21
Oct. 20 at Middle Tenn. L 24-7
Oct. 27 Troy L 27-0
Nov. 3
FIU W 27-24
Nov. 10 at Fla Atlantic L 34-31
Nov. 17
North Texas W 31-27
Nov. 24 at So Miss L 16-10

ASU represented itself and the Sun Belt well last season with strong showings in losses to Texas and Southern Miss while beating Memphis and SMU. Yeah, it took a little too much of an effort to get by the dregs of the Sun Belt, beating FIU 27-24 and North Texas 31-27, but the 34-31 loss at eventual conference champion Florida Atlantic was a great battle.

This year's team has some fantastic parts to build around. The combination of QB Corey Leonard and RB Reggie Arnold makes for one of the Sun Belt's scariest backfields, while the defensive front seven returns most of the key parts. The special teams should be the best in the league, and the receiving corps, especially the tight ends, are solid.

The problem areas, like a secondary that loses the star safety tandem of Tyrell Johnson and Khyyam Burns, should be helped by an influx of JUCO talent, while the offensive line, a big concern with only one returning starter, is at least big.

No one will be predicting a Sun Belt title for the Red Wolves, but with a little bit of work they'll be right in the hunt until the end.

What to watch for on offense: The line. Left tackle Matt Mandich is one of the best linemen in the Sun Belt, but he's it for experience on the offensive front. There's promise among the four new starters, and some JUCO help, but there's no sure thing to give Mandich any help. Considering ASU was 110th in the nation in sacks allowed, a little change might not be a bad thing.

What to watch for on defense: The secondary. All four starters are gone off of the nation's 19th best pass defense, and while there's good experience returning with some of last year's backups ready to shine, it'll be up to JUCO superstar Corderious Mingo, and a few other new recruits, to pick up the slack.

The team will be far better if … the passing game is more efficient. QB Corey Leonard became a far better passer and far more effective, but the ASU air attack wasn't efficient. There were too many interceptions, and if Leonard can cut his 15 picks down to single digits, that should be the difference between a good season and a great one.

The Schedule: Considering how well ASU played Texas last year, dealing with Texas A&M in the season opener isn't all that bad. Forgetting what ULM did last year, forget about the trip to Alabama, but Texas Southern, Southern Miss and at Memphis are all winnable. There's a week off before dealing with Florida Atlantic, and it's at home, and two of the league road games, at FIU and North Texas, are against two of the worst teams. The problem will be trips to UL Lafayette and Troy. If the Red Wolves split those two and beat FAU, it might be on to New Orleans.

Best Offensive Player: Junior RB Reggie Arnold. He has the size and the speed to do a little of everything well, and now, after two straight 1,000-yard seasons, he needs to stay healthy with top backup Preston Brown suspended. Arnold also needs to be used more in the passing game after being an afterthought as a receiver.

Best Defensive Player: Senior LB Ben Owens. With excellent range and good athleticism, last year's third leading tackler should be the main man for the front seven. He could stand to get in the backfield a bit more and he could make more big plays, but he's a good talent who knows what he's doing in the middle.

Key player to a successful season: Sophomore SS M.D. Jennings. Gone is Tyrell Johnson, arguably the best defensive back to ever play in the Sun Belt. Jennings has experience, making 26 tackles in a relief role, but at only 6-0 and 165 pounds, it's asking a lot for the Red Wolves to get anywhere near the same production they got from Johnson over four years.

The season will be a success if ... Arkansas State wins the Sun Belt title. There might be way too many question marks to be the league's best team, but the conference schedule works out well and if there aren't any home losses, it should all be up to ...

Key game: Dec. 6 at Troy. The Trojans blanks the then-Indians 27-0 in an ugly late-October game. ASU had won three straight over Troy, and if it can win the regular season finale, it might be the Sun Belt champion.

2007 Fun Stats: 
- Sacks: Opponents 39 for 248 yards – Arkansas State 13 for 124 yards
- Third quarter scoring: Opponents 133 – Arkansas State 64
- Kickoff return average: Arkansas State 21.6 – Opponents 17.9