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2008 Arkansas State Preview - Offense

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Apr 11, 2008


CollegeFootballNews.com 2008 Preview - Arkansas State Indian Offense

Arkansas State Red Wolves

Preview 2008 - Offense

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

What you need to know: The offense went from being all run all the time in 2006 to balanced and inconsistent. The emergence of Corey Leonard as a top all-around quarterback helped the passing game crank out over 200 yards per game, but the offense revolves around Reggie Arnold and the running game. The line is big and beefy, but outside of all-star OT Matt Mandich there's little experience and big-time concern about the depth. The receiving corps is decent and could grow into one of the best in the league as the season goes on.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Corey Leonard
182-349, 2,235 yds, 16 TD, 15 INT
Rushing: Reggie Arnold
163 carries, 1,060 yds, 9 TD
Receiving: Brandon Thompkins
41 catches, 503 yds, 1 TD

Star of the offense: Junior RB Reggie Arnold
Player who has to step up and become a star: The entire O line other than Matt Mandich
Unsung star on the rise: Junior WR Jarriel Norman
Best pro prospect: Arnold
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Arnold, 2) OT Matt Mandich, 3) QB Corey Leonard
Strength of the offense: Receiver speed, quarterback, Arnold
Weakness of the offense:
Running back depth, offensive line depth

Quarterbacks

Projected Starter
:
Junior Corey Leonard has grown into the role of leader and all-around playmaker for the offense. A superior dual-threat with a big arm and great speed, the 6-1, 205-pounder finished last year completing 52% of his passes for 2,235 yards an 16 touchdowns with 15 interceptions while running for 547 yards and five scores. The numbers overall are a bit misleading with five of the touchdown passes and 84 yards and a score coming in the blowout win over UL Lafayette, but he's still a tremendous talent and one of the Sun Belt's most dangerous weapons. Now he has to come back healthy after suffering an arm injury.

Projected Top Reserves: While Leonard spent the off-season recovering, 6-1, 205-pound senior Travis Hewitt proved he could keep the offense moving without a problem. While now the runner Leonard is, Hewitt is mobile with a good passing touch completing 61% of his throws for 211 yards with an interception in relief leading the way to a win over FIU.

Watch Out For ... a battle for the third job. Transfer Brice Beck is a 6-4, 240-pound junior who can bomb it, while redshirt freshmen Neely Sullivent is a bit more in the Leonard/Hewitt mold.
Strength: The relief pitcher. Florida Atlantic's Rusty Smith is the Sun Belt's best quarterback, but Leonard is the most dangerous. However, he carried it 171 times last year and got beaten up. Hewitt is a nice second option.
Weakness: Interceptions. Leonard throw too many of them with 23 in two years with 24 touchdown passes. He can't force plays that aren't there.
Outlook: Leonard took the big leap up in production and made ASU his team last season. He's a great all-around weapon who can carry the offense by himself at times, even though he doesn't have to. Hewitt is good enough to start almost anywhere else in the league.
Rating: 7

Running Backs

Projected Starters
:
Somehow, junior Reggie Arnold slipped through the recruiting cracks and has become one of the Sun Belt's best players following up a 1,076-yard season with a 1,060-yard campaign with nine touchdowns. He's 5-9 and 220 pounds with 4.3 speed and a 5.7-yard-per-carry average. While not used as a receiver, catching only four passes for 52 yards and a touchdown, but he could be deadly is he gets the ball on the fly. He can run between the tackles, bounce to the outside, and be a workhorse when needed, but he needs to stay healthy after injuring his shoulder. He's the total package.

Working again at fullback is sophomore Danny McNeal, a 6-1, 255-pound thumper who only ran twice for 12 yards. He won't get any carries, but he's a big blocker who'll pave the way for Arnold.

Projected Top Reserves: Looking to get back in the mix in 2009 will be sophomore Preston Brown, a talented 5-10, 195-pound speedster who averaged 5.5 yards per carry finishing third on the team with 298 yards and a touchdown. He's also a dangerous receiver finishing third with 20 catches for 192 yards and a score. He's more than just a good number two guy, but he has to get healthy after having a groin problem, and he has to get back on the team after being suspended for violating team rules.

With Brown out of the mix, redshirt freshman Derek Lawson, one of the stars of spring ball will have to grow into a strong second option. The 5-11, 210-pounder has good quickness and tremendous speed, and now he'll have to prove he cam be a receiver like Brown.

On the way is star recruit Ronnie Johnson, a 6-1, 190-pound Alabama all-state high school player who rushed for 22 touchdowns and 1,790 yards even though he was banged up. He's a fast, big back who could be part of the mix sooner than later.

Behind McNeal at fullback is redshirt freshman Jermaine Robertson, a 5-11, 227-pound option who might be smaller than McNeal, but could be used more as a runner.

Watch Out For ... Lawson. Arnold is the running game, but the last thing the coaching staff wants to do is wear down its star. Lawson is a great option and a nice prospect, but he has to prove he can be Brown as a backup.
Strength: Arnold. He's a special talent who should be on the NFL radar in the near future as a possible No. 2 back. he has the makeup and the quickness to quickly become a hot prospect.
Weakness: The proven backup. Losing Brown isn't a killer, but the safety net is gone. The fewer carries Arnold has to see before late in the year, the better.
Outlook: The running game, helped by QB Corey Leonard, rolled for 2,112 yards last season, and it should do it again as long as Arnold's banged up shoulder isn't a problem. Lawson and Johnson will be fine backup options, but losing Brown's versatility isn't a plus. The rating would be much higher if there was a proven backup.
Rating: 6

Receivers

Projected Starters
:
Looking to play a bigger role will be 5-9, 180-pound junior Brandon Thompkins, last year's second leading receiver who finished with 41 catches for 5-3 yards and a touchdown. A star kickoff returner who averaged 21.7 yards per kick, he has tremendous wheels and the potential to shine at the W position.

Taking over for top target Levi Dejohnette will be junior Jarriel Norman, a 5-9, 185-pound prospect who missed all of last year and is looking to make an impact  at the Y. One of the team's fastest players and best all-around athletes, he was a star Texas high school state champion sprinter running a 10.6 100 and a 21.4 200, and now that speed has to translate to the football field after only catching three passes for 23 yards in 2006.

Senior David Johnson is one of the Sun Belt's best tight ends, and now he needs to be used more. The 6-2, 250-pounder caught just ten passes, but he averaged 20.4 yards per grab with three touchdowns. A nice blocker, he can do a little of everything and be a game-breaker when he gets the ball on the move.

Projected Top Reserves:
With several big losses in the receiving corps, senior Kevin Jones will see an even bigger role after catching 18 passes for 236 yards. The 5-10, 160-pounder led the team with 25 catches for 355 yards and two touchdowns in 2006 as a steady, occasionally spectacular target. While he's not a physical receiver, he has the deep speed to stretch things out.

Battling Norman for a spot at the Y is Jahbari McLennan, a 5-11, 185-pound JUCO transfer with tremendous speed and athleticism. He caught 29 passes for 550 yards and six touchdowns for Trinity Valley CC in Texas last season.

JUCO transfer Taylor Clements is a 5-10, 187-pound junior who caught 44 passes for 831 yards and nine scores for Butte College in California. A great athlete who was a good get for the program, and now he could be an instant impact playmaker in the rotation.

Johnson is the team's best tight end, but junior J.T. Jordan isn't a bad second option and Trevor Gillott is a strong receiver in the mix. The 6-1, 260-pound Jordan only caught three passes for 27 yards and a touchdown, but he's a big blocker and great in two tight end sets. Gillott finished tied for third on the team with 20 catches for 183 yards, and while he's not the blocker the others are, he's one of the team's most reliable targets.

Watch Out For ... the freshmen. Taylor Stockemer was a tremendous get for the program as one of the Sun Belt's best recruits. He's 6-4, 200 pounds, and a big-time talent. 6-4, 205-pound Allen Muse also adds excellent size.
Strength: Speed. ASU only averaged 11.9 yards per catch. There's no reason this corps should be under 13 yards per grab with speed, speed, and more speed with Thompkins and Norman two of the league's fastest players. Even the tight ends can move.
Weakness: Dependable targets. Losing a No. 1 like Levi Dejohnette hurts and not having RB Preston Brown to works with won't help. Now, Thompkins has to become a go-to guy and others have to develop around him.
Outlook: The offense saw more from the passing game last season with the receiving corps taking a step up overall. With Thompkins, Jones, and a great group of tight ends, this could grow into the league's best corps, even if it doesn't put up the biggest numbers. The good recruits will only help the cause.
Rating: 5

Offensive Linemen

Projected Starters: The inconsistent line is starting from scratch with the exception of senior Matt Mandich at left tackle. The 6-3 305-pound veteran is one of the Sun Belt's best blockers and a rock on the line for the least few years. He struggles a bit in pass protection, but he's a beast for the running game. Even though he beefed up over the last year, he has good mobility and is a strong anchor to work around.

There will be a fight for the left guard spot with 6-3, 308-pound JUCO transfer Bradley Guillory likely to take over. Originally a TCU Horned Frog, he was the key anchor for Kilgore College in Texas with the athleticism of a tackle, and he could play on the right side, and the strength to become an immediate star at guard.

Needing to make an immediate impact in the middle will be Brandon Ciaramitaro, a 6-3, 295-pound senior JUCO transfer who saw a little time last season in four games. He has been around the system long enough to know what he's doing, and he has the size and strength to be a good option for the ground game.

Taking over at right guard will be junior Anthony Jackson, a massive 6-4, 353-pound mauler who needs to see more time and will have to fight to get a starting job. The former defensive lineman needs to grow into a consistent blocker and a pounder for the running game.

If senior Mark Clemons doesn't have a problem with a knee injury, he should be a good one at right tackle. He only say time in two games, but the former JUCO transfer has 6-4, 330-pound size with ridiculous strength. He'll be great for the running game, but his pass protection is a bit suspect.


Projected Top Reserves: If Guillory isn't the man right away at left guard, then the combination of 6-3, 295-pound junior Dominic Padrta and 6-3, 300-pound junior Alfred Louis will combine for the job. Padrta has spent the last few years bulking up and has the experience seeing time in eight games as a reserve. Louis has excellent size, but he'll have to fight for time.

While not as big as Jackson at right guard, 6-4, 290-pound sophomore Drew Hilton is hardly small and is more athletic. A good recruit who had interest from places like LSU and Arkansas, he's about to start playing a bigger role at one of the guard spots.

Watch Out For ... things to not be all that bad even with the loss of several starters. Even with only one starter, Mandich, back and with little overall experience, this group will pound away for the ground game.
Strength: Size. There's no messing around with smaller, quick linemen like some Sun Belt teams go with. ASU has a huge, girthy group with huge, girthy backups. This group will pound away for the running game.
Weakness: Experience. Last year's line, for good and bad, was durable and rarely saw much of a rotation. Now there are several new players who will just now get their feet wet. It could take a game or three for everything to come together.
Outlook: Last year's line was woefully inconsistent and did nothing in pass protection. To be fair, several of the 39 sacks came because the mobile quarterbacks were tackled behind the line, but the front five still struggled. Now there's a wholesale change with four brand new, inexperienced starters to go along with a first-team Sun Belt all-star in Mandich.
Rating: 5