#75 Arkansas State Football 2014 Preview

Arkansas State Red Wolves

Overall Rank: #75
#2 Sun Belt

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Once again Arkansas State must break in a new coach. Blake Anderson is next in line and should be able to pick up right where the Red Wolves left off. ASU went 5-2 in Sun Belt play in 2013 and picked up a nice win in the GoDaddy.com Bowl against Ball State. There are some important pieces to replace, but this group has the talent to make another run for a conference title.

2013 Record: (8-5, 5-2)
2013 Bowl: GoDaddy.com Bowl vs. Ball State (W 23-20)
Coach: Blake Anderson (0-0 at Arkansas State, 0-0 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Walt Bell
Defensive Coordinator: Joe Cauthen

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Michael Gordon, RB, 754 yards
Passing: Fredi Knighten, QB, 215 yards
Receiving: J.D. McKissic, WR, 662 yards
Tackles: Qushaun Lee, LB, 134
Sacks: Dexter Blackmon, DL, 3.5
Interceptions: Rocky Hayes, DB, 3

Other Key Returnees: LB Kyle Coleman, DE Chris Stone, TE Darion Griswold, OL Bryce Giddens, S Sterling Young

Key Losses: QB Adam Kennedy, WR Julian Jones, RB David Oku, DL Ryan Carrethers, K Brian Davis, OL Steven Haunga

The defense returns eight starters and the unit should be much improved. The concern is on the line where Ryan Carrethers must be replaced after tallying 93 tackles and leading the squad with 4.0 sacks. End Chris Stone and tackle Dexter Blackmon will look to pick up the slack. The back seven, which includes two linebackers and five players in the secondary, returns all starters. Qushaun Lee led the conference with 134 tackles and will once again be one of the top defensive players in the Sun Belt. With fellow senior Kyle Coleman by his side, Lee will be tough to contain. The secondary is loaded with experience. Rocky Hayes picked off three passes last year and will be joined by Artez Brown at the corner spots. Safety Sterling Young is a big safety who will make plenty of big plays.

The offense must replace quarterback Adam Kennedy. He threw for 2,363 yards and 11 touchdowns and rushed for 524 yards and four more scores. The positive news is that Fredi Knighten won the bowl game for Arkansas State and appears ready to step right in. Like Kennedy, he can make plays with his arm and his feet. Knighten will have receiver J.D. McKissic to make the transition go even smoother. McKissic caught 82 passes for 662 yards and four scores. The running game lost workhorse David Oku, but Michael Gordon led the team with 754 yards and ten touchdowns and will take all of the carries he can handle.

The Bottom Line:
The defense is in pretty good shape and that will be enough for the Red Wolves to compete for a conference title. If the offense can fill holes on the line and get consistent production under center, this group can do more than just compete for a title. The big game comes on October 21st in Lafayette against the Ragin’ Cajuns. That one will decide the early favorite for the title and would be a huge momentum builder for the Red Wolves.

Projected Bowl: GoDaddy.com Bowl

2013 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 205.7 (24th in nation, 1st in conference)
Passing Offense: 202.1 (89, 6)
Total Offense: 407.8 (65, 5)
Scoring Offense: 29.2 (67, 5)
Rushing Defense: 180.2 (80, 6)
Pass Defense: 232.9 (69, 3)
Total Defense: 413.1 (74, 5)
Scoring Defense: 26.2 (58, 3)
Turnover Margin: 0.5 (24, 1)
Sacks:  2.00 (62, 3)
Sacks Allowed: 2.23 (75, 6)


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