Arkansas State Red Wolves
2009 CFN Arkansas
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Head coach: Steve Roberts
8th year: 37-47
16h year: 86-80-1
Off: 20, Def. 27, ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 15
Best ASU Players
1. DE Alex Carrington,
2. RB Reggie Arnold, Sr.
3. QB Corey Leonard, Sr.
4. SS M.D. Jennings, Jr.
5. CB Daylan Walker, Sr.
Derek Lawson, So.
7. DT Bryan Hall, Jr.
8. PK Josh Arauco,
9. WR Brandon Thompkins, Sr.
10. FS Evan Van Dolah,
9/5 Miss Valley St
9/12 at Nebraska
9/19 OPEN DATE
10/3 at Iowa
10/13 at ULM
10/17 OPEN DATE
10/31 at Louisville
11/7 UL Lafayette
11/14 at Florida
11/21 at Mid Tenn.
11/28 North Texas
12/3 at WKU
CFN Prediction: 5-7
8/30 at Texas A&M
9/6 Texas Southern W
9/13 Southern Miss L 27-24
9/20 Middle Tenn W
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
to a successful season:
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.
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.
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.
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