#94 Arkansas State Football 2013 Preview

Arkansas State Red Wolves

Overall Rank: #94
#3 Sun Belt

Arkansas State Team Page#94 Arkansas State Football 2013 PreviewBuy Arkansas State Football Tickets

Arkansas State, yet again, was forced to go out and find a new coach. Hugh Freeze is the latest coach to leave after just one season at the helm for the Red Wolves. With success comes instability in the coaching ranks and that is a fair enough trade for Arkansas State. Bryan Harsin spent most of his coaching career at Boise State where he eventually wound up as the offensive coordinator. For the last two seasons he was co-offensive coordinator at Texas. Coach Harsin certainly knows how to run an effective offense and this is a program that is quite familiar with productive offenses.

2012 Record: (10-3, 7-1)
2012 Bowl: GoDaddy.com Bowl vs Kent State (W17-13)
Coach: Bryan Harsin (First season at Arkansas State, 0-0 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Eliah Drinkwitz and Bush Hamdan
Defensive Coordinator: John Thompson

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: David Oku, RB, 1,061 yards
Passing: Fredi Knighten, QB, 44 yards
Receiving: J.D. McKissic, WR, 1,022 yards
Tackles: Qushaun Lee, LB, 100
Sacks: Eddie Porter, DE, 2.5
Interceptions: Sterling Young, S, 2

Other Key Returnees: DT Ryan Carrethers, C Bryce Giddens, G Steven Haunga, WR Carlos McCants, G Cliff Mitchell, CB Andrew Tyron, OT Aaron Williams

Key Losses: QB Ryan Aplin, LB Nathan Herrold, WR Josh Jarboe, S Don Jones, TE Anthony Kincy, OT Zack McKnight, CB Chaz Scales, DE Tim Starson, DT Ronnell Wright

The Red Wolves had one of the most potent offenses in the nation last season. With the return of four offensive linemen, most notably tackle Aaron Williams, the unit could be just as effective even without superstar quarterback Ryan Aplin. Aplin threw for 3,342 yards and 24 touchdowns during his senior season and took six more trips to the end zone on the ground. However, replacing Aplin may not be as tough as it seems. Senior Phillip Butterfield has the most experience, but he has not played much due to a knee injury. But he has a great arm and is still brimming with potential. Fredi Knighten was the top backup in 2012 during his freshman campaign and will not let Butterfield take the job without a fight. Stephen Hogan is also in the mix and junior college transfer Chandler Rogers is an intriguing option. He has an arm and is a decent scrambler. The key for Coach Harsin will be finding a quarterback and sticking with him. The winner of the competition will be a good quarterback as there has certainly been quite a bit of talent sitting behind Aplin. Whoever is throwing the ball, the Red Wolves have one of the best receivers in the conference in J.D. McKissic. The 5-10 sophomore caught an amazing 103 passes for 1,022 yards as a freshman. Julian Jones will be the big play threat. In 2012 he only caught 13 passes, but seven of them went for touchdowns. Darion Griswold is a nice big target and the tight end could get much more involved this time around. The best player on the team right now is probably David Oku. The former Tennessee Volunteer made a huge impact during his debut campaign for the Red Wolves, rushing for 1,061 yards and 16 touchdowns.

It is quite unfair to call the defense a weakness. The unit did rank second in the conference in total defense and first in scoring defense. The play of the defensive line may be the deciding factor for ASU. Ryan Carrethers is a great defensive tackle, but the Red Wolves lack a true pass rushing threat on the end. Eddie Porter is making the move from linebacker in an attempt to kick start the pass rush. Chris Stone will likely start on the other side. Overall the Arkansas State line is small, albeit athletic, but stopping the run could be a problem. That is especially true without former leading tackler Nathan Herrold. Qushaun Lee lived up to his potential last season and will become the new leader of the linebackers. However, the rest of the unit is quite inexperienced and the Red Wolves will have to rely on young linebackers and former safeties to fill in the gaps. And they better hope speed is enough. The overloaded secondary in the 4-2-5 scheme has a lot of new faces too. Free safety Sterling Young will have to grow into a leader pretty quick. Rocky Hayes is moving into the secondary after trying to avoid them in the past. The former receiver has some growing to do, but he is quick and could develop into a great cornerback with time.

The Bottom Line:
The new coach and the new quarterback really should not make that big of a difference. Yet the potential is there for things to go wrong and the offense may need to carry this team all year long. If it takes a few weeks of game time to get rolling offensively, Arkansas State will get off to a slow start. Even Coach Harsin has his offense ready to go from day one and if the defense plays at least as well as they did in 2012, this is a team that could win the Sun Belt again and end up with another ten win season. A few less wins may be more likely and Arkansas State will still be bowl eligible. That is not a bad season for a team in transition yet again.

Projected Bowl: None

2012 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 206.23 (23rd in nation, 1st in conference)
Passing Offense: 260.46 (43, 4)
Total Offense: 466.69 (23, 2)
Scoring Offense: 34.92 (26, 2)
Rushing Defense: 156.38 (58, 5)
Pass Defense: 227.31 (53, 3)
Total Defense: 383.69 (51, 2)
Scoring Defense: 24.46 (43, 1)
Turnover Margin: 0.69 (23, 2)
Sacks: 1.46 (96, 6)
Sacks Allowed: 1.15 (17, 4)


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