2009 CFN Arkansas State Preview
Arkansas State RB Reggie Arnold
Arkansas State RB Reggie Arnold
Posted May 19, 2009

CollegeFootballNews.com 2009 Preview - Arkansas State Red Wolves


Arkansas State Red Wolves

Preview 2009

- 2009 CFN Arkansas State Preview | 2009 ASU Offense
2009 ASU Defense | 2009 ASU Depth Chart
- 2008 ASU Preview |
2007 ASU Preview | 2006 ASU Preview

Pete Fiutak

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Head coach: Steve Roberts 
8th year: 37-47
16h year: 86-80-1
Returning Lettermen:
Off: 20, Def. 27, ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 15
Ten Best ASU Players
1. DE Alex Carrington, Sr.
2. RB Reggie Arnold, Sr.
3. QB Corey Leonard, Sr.
4. SS M.D. Jennings, Jr.
5. CB Daylan Walker, Sr.
6. RB Derek Lawson, So.
7. DT Bryan Hall, Jr.
8. PK Josh Arauco, Sr.
9. WR Brandon Thompkins, Sr.
10. FS Evan Van Dolah, Sr.

2009 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 6-6
2009 Record:

9/5 Miss Valley St
9/12 at Nebraska
9/26 Troy
10/3 at Iowa
10/13 at ULM
10/24 FIU
10/31 at Louisville
11/7 UL Lafayette
11/14 at Florida Atlantic
11/21 at Mid Tenn.
11/28 North Texas
12/3 at WKU

2008 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 5-7
2008 Record:

8/30 at Texas A&M W 18-14
9/6 Texas Southern W 83-10
9/13 Southern Miss L 27-24
9/20 Middle Tenn W 31-14
9/27 at Memphis L 29-17
10/11 UL Monroe W 37-29
10/18 at UL Lafayette L 28-23
11/1 at Alabama L 35-0
11/8 at FIU L 22-21
11/22 Florida Atlantic W 28-14
11/29 at North Texas W 33-28
12/6 at Troy L 35-9

ASU was able to get to the New Orleans Bowl in 2005, and head coach Steve Roberts has cranked out some nice teams over the last seven years, but this is the season the program has ben building for. This is the team that should be the best yet under Roberts, and this is the one that should make a ton of national noise if everyone plays up to their talent level.

The Red Wolves haven't been able to become Troy, and dominate on a yearly basis, but they've been able to maintain a high level of play under Roberts and have been able to get in some excellent talents who have been among the best in the Sun Belt. Now they have more excellent talents as anyone else, or at least they have as many as Troy.

The backfield is fantastic with QB Corey Leonard going into his fourth year as a starter, and it'll be a shock if he's not one of the nation's best dual-threat playmakers. He'll be an early favorite for Sun Belt Player of the Year honors, if RB Reggie Arnold isn't the lead dog in the race, while Derek Lawson could be the second best running back in the league. Working behind a big, tough offensive line, the stars will get time to work and room to move, while the veteran receiving corps has the speed and talent to come up with a big year with Leonard throwing the ball. And then there's the defense.

ASU has had a decent defense over the last few years, finishing first in the Sun Belt against the run and second in several main categories, finishing behind Troy. This year's defense is loaded with Alex Carrington an NFL-caliber end and seven other starters to work around. The secondary has major playmakers in safety M.D. Jennings and corner Daylan Walker, and the linebacking corps is just athletic enough to make a ton of tackles, considering everything else around them are strong.

If the offense and defense weren't strong enough, the special teams, at least the placekicking, will be fantastic with the return of Lou Groza candidate Josh Arauco and a decent set of return men. It's all there, and now ASU has to stay healthy, play consistently, and win the big games.

Last year's team was strong, too, but it sputtered just when it was supposed to get hot with losses to UL Lafayette and FIU to all but kill the Sun Belt season. The win over Florida Atlantic made the losses all the more maddening, but there was still hope for a bowl appearance going into the final game of the regular season against Troy. The Trojans came up with a 35-9 win, and now ASU has something to shoot for and a motivation going into this year.

The schedule won't be a breeze, but for a team this good, it's time to reestablish itself as a star of the Sun Belt. Next year it'll be rebuilding time. So it's all about pulling off the big year while everything is in place. There's no reason ASU can't be playing in New Orleans in December.

What to watch for on offense: The emergence of the receivers. Lost in the shuffle of the tremendous running game is the efficient passing attack. Leonard makes his targets better, but he also has help from a group of playmakers who take advantage of the passes that come their way. Senior Brandon Thompkins averaged 16 yards per catch last year, while Jahbari McLennan averaged 14.1 yards per try. While star tight end David Johnson is gone, Trevor Gilliott is a promising receiver who should help pick up the slack. The attack will still work around Arnold, Lawson and the ground game, but the receivers will have their moments, too.

What to watch for on defense: The tackles. Alex Carrington will require full-time double and triple teaming on the outside, and everyone else on the front four must take advantage. Bryan Hall is the team's best interior lineman, but Khari Mays is a good veteran who should be able to do far more than just gum up the works. The entire line will be active, and if the tackles can collapse the pocket on a regular basis, Carrington will be that much freer to work.

The team will be far better if … the defense can come up with a third down stop. Considering all the talent on the D, and all the production throughout last year, it was surprisingly awful when it came to getting off the field. Teams converted a whopping 42% of their third down conversion attempts, and while ASU rocked in the time of possession department because of the running game, the team will be far more successful if the D can stuff more drives.

The Schedule: It's a problem. The Red Wolves get a huge break in the Sun Belt opener with Troy coming to Jonesboro, but they have to go on the road in back-to-back weeks in November to face Florida Atlantic and Middle Tennessee. If they beat Troy, they can probably split the key road games and still win the Sun Belt title, but they can't lose two of the three. On the plus side, the final two games of the year should be layups against North Texas and Western Kentucky. That and the Troy game are the only breaks without a positive stretch of home games, there aren't two in a row, and a rough non-conference slate with trips to Nebraska, Iowa and Louisville to go along with the layup in the home opener against Mississippi Valley State.

Best Offensive Player: Senior RB Reggie Arnold. On the verge of being just the eighth player in D-I history to run for 1,000 yards or more in all four seasons, Arnold is a tough, productive back to rely the running game around. Corey Leonard might be the key triggerman at quarterback, and Derek Lawson could certainly produce if he became the featured runner, but Arnold is the one he keeps things moving.

Best Defensive Player: Senior DE Alex Carrington. Offensive lines eventually figured him out, doing whatever they could to keep him away from the quarterback by the end of the season, but Carrington showed why he's so high on so many NFL draft lists with 10.5 sacks and 19 tackles for loss. At 6-5 and 284 pounds, he'll make some big league team very happy as a 3-4 end, but he can play in any system and produce.

Key player to a successful season: Senior OT Kiano Prater. The ASU O line will crush and kill most things in its path when it comes to the running game, but it needs to be far better in pass protection. The mobility of Leonard, who tries to make things happen that aren't there, is a problem when it comes to the sack totals, but the line does have to be stronger on the outside. Prater will step in at left tackle in place of Matt Mandich, the team's best lineman over the last three years. If he has a bad year, the offense will have to scramble a bit to work more on the right side.

The season will be a success if ... Arkansas State wins the Sun Belt title. The schedule is tough and it's not going to be easy, but with a team this good, and with so many certain Sun Belt all-stars, the time is now to win another championship under Roberts.

Key game: Sept. 26 vs. Troy. Considering the two other top league contenders, Florida Atlantic and Middle Tennessee, each host ASU, beating Troy in the Sun Belt opener is a must. The Trojans have won the last two meetings by a combined score of 62-9, and if the Red Wolves lose this, they'll have to rally to get back in the Sun Belt title hunt. 

2008 Fun Stats: 
- Penalties: Arkansas State 84 for 780 yards - Opponents 63 for 525 yards
- Rushing yards per game: Arkansas State 203.3 - Opponents 125.2
- Rushing touchdowns: Opponents 20 - Arkansas State 19