#91 Arkansas State Football 2015 Preview

Arkansas State Red Wolves

Overall Rank: #91
#4 Sun Belt

Arkansas State Team Page#91 Arkansas State Football 2015 PreviewBuy Arkansas State Football Tickets

For the fourth year in a row, Arkansas State went to the GoDaddy Bowl. This time around the Red Wolves lost a 63-44 shootout to Toledo. But overall Arkansas State had another solid season. Perhaps most importantly of all, after five coaches in five years, Arkansas State managed to keep Blake Anderson around for at least one more season. Finally they can build a program.

2014 Record: 7-6, 5-3
2014 Bowl: GoDaddy Bowl vs. Toledo (L 44-63)
Coach: Blake Anderson (7-6 at Arkansas State, 7-6 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Walt Bell, Glen Elarbee
Defensive Coordinator: Joe Cauthen

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Michael Gordon, RB, 1,100 yards
Passing: Fredi Knighten, QB, 3,277 yards
Receiving: Tres Houston, WR, 685 yards
Tackles: Xavier Woodson, LB, 95
Sacks: Ja’Von Rolland-Jones, DE, 8.0
Interceptions: Money Hunter, S, 2

Other Key Returnees: RB Johnston White, WR J.D. McKissic, WR Dijon Paschal, TE Darion Griswold, K/P Luke Ferguson, DE Chris Stone, DB Blaise Taylor

Key Losses: DB Artez Brown, LB Qushaun Lee, DB Andrew Tryon

This offense can score in a hurry. Quarterback Fredi Knighten has done a great job running the fast-paced offense. As a junior last season, Knighten threw for 3,277 yards and 24 touchdowns and added 779 yards and 11 scores on the ground. The return of three big-time receivers should make this offense even more explosive in 2015. Tres Houston caught 53 passes for 685 yards and fellow senior J.D. McKissic caught 52 passes for 629 yards. Dijon Paschal turned into the big play receiver. He averaged 17.4 yards per catch as a freshman and Knighten will certainly look his way more often this season. While the passing attack is extremely dangerous, the ground game was actually better. Running back Michael Gordon rushed for 1,110 yards and 13 touchdowns. Because of the spread offense Arkansas State can have trouble in short yardage situations, but Gordon, Knighten and Johnston White can certainly move the ball on the ground.

The Arkansas State defense was a mixed bag last season. The unit as a whole did a superb job getting to the quarterback and forcing turnovers, but they also gave up way too many big plays. The impressive pass rushing should continue with the return of ends Ja’Von Rolland-Jones and Chris Stone. Rolland-Jones tallied 8.0 sacks and 12.0 tackles-for-loss as a freshman in 2014. At linebacker, Xavier Woodson will slide into the middle to replace departed leading tackler Qushaun Lee. The front seven does need to beef up a little bit in an effort to stop those big runs and Coach Anderson hopes some junior college transfers and UAB transfer Robert Mondie will do the trick. The secondary has a lot of holes to fill in the 4-2-5 scheme, most notably Artez Brown and Andrew Tryon.

The Bottom Line:
The offense should be even more potent, but the defense could take a step back. However, even with games against USC and Missouri to start the season, Arkansas State will be able to get back to another bowl. And with a couple new Sun Belt bowl affiliations, maybe they can go somewhere else besides the GoDaddy Bowl.

Projected Bowl: Camellia Bowl

2014 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 216.4 (25th in nation, 3rd in conference)
Passing Offense: 260.1 (39, 4)
Total Offense: 476.5 (20, 1)
Scoring Offense: 36.7 (18, 1)
Rushing Defense: 205.2 (103, 5)
Pass Defense: 216.0 (44, 6)
Total Defense: 421.2 (83, 4)
Scoring Defense: 30.5 (90, 5)
Turnover Margin: 0.46 (33, 2)
Sacks: 2.85 (17, 2)
Sacks Allowed: 2.38 (85, 5)


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