NCAA Football

2011 College Football Team Preview: Arkansas State Red Wolves

| by

2010 Season Breakdown

Final record (overall, conference): 4-8, 4-4
Bowl game: None
Final ranking (AP, Coaches’): NR, NR
Conference finish: T-4th
Offensive rank: 40th
Defensive rank: 105th

2010 Individual Statistics Leaders

Rushing: Derek Lawson, 500 yards, 4 TD
Passing: Ryan Aplin, 2,934 yards, 21 TD, 11 INT
Receiving: Dwayne Frampton, 738 yards, 6 TD
Tackles: Javon McKinnon, 95 total tackles
Sacks: Bryan Hall, 8.5 sacks
Interceptions: M.D. Jennings, 3 INT 

2011 Schedule (all games Saturday unless noted)
*denotes conference game

September 3 @ Illinois
September 10 vs. Memphis
September 17 @ Virginia Tech
September 24 vs. Central Arkansas
October 1 @ Western Kentucky*
October 8 @ Louisiana-Monroe*
October 18 (Tue) vs. FIU* [8:00 PM ET, ESPN2]
October 29 vs. North Texas*
November 5 @ FAU*
November 12 vs. Louisiana*
November 19 @ Middle Tennessee State*
December 3 vs. Troy*

Key Matchups

September 3 @ Illinois Fighting Illini: Illini running back Mikel Leshoure may be gone, but the first game of the season against Illinois will be a good test for the Red Wolves defense who couldn’t seem to stop anybody’s ground game last season.

October 18 vs. FIU Golden Panthers: A Tuesday home game on ESPN2 against the defending conference champions? Yeah, this is a good opportunity for Arkansas State to get a little exposure.

Key Losses

Derek Newton, OT; Sifa Etu, OL; Dominic Padrta, OL; Kiano Prater, OL; Brian Hall, DT; Javon McKinnon, LB; Walter Moody, CB; M.D. Jennings, S

Key Returning Players

Ryan Aplin, QB; Derek Lawson, RB; Dwayne Frampton, WR; Allen Muse, WR; Taylor Stockemer, WR; Tom Castilaw, C; Dorvus Woods, DL; Demario Davis, LB; Darron Edwards, CB; Kelcie McCray, S

Offensive Overview

The passing game could get even better than a year ago when it ranked 31st in the country. Ryan Aplin is back under center with Hugh Freeze moving from offensive coordinator to head coach. Aplin was also effective on the ground, rushing for 11 touchdowns—good for the team lead. Derek Lawson returns at running back after leading the way with 500 yards a year ago. The receivers are also back, meaning Aplin will have familiar targets in the passing game this season, which should allow the Red Wolves to see further improvement in the passing game.

The biggest question mark for the offense is along the offensive line. Four starters need to be replaced, as well as a few backups; center Tom Castilaw the only returning starter. There are several players looking to step in such as tackle Delano Moore, Jake Campbell, Alex Kautai and Cliff Mitchell. Eric Allen should see time on the line as well. Any time you have so many new faces on the starting unit, there’s reason to be concerned. But if the new faces come together and protect Aplin, this could be a special year for the offense.

Defensive Overview

If this team hopes to compete for the Sun Belt title or be invited to a bowl game, tremendous strides must be made on the defensive side of the ball. The defense is changing a bit this season with more looks and pressure from different areas expected, but if this defense hopes to improve and become more aggressive, it’ll have to start up front where the Red Wolves struggled to stop the run a season ago. Amos Draper was a Freshman All-American according to and should play a big role on the line this season. Dorvus Woods also returns on the D-line, as well as Justin Robertson, so there’s reason to believe that the defensive front will show improvement in 2011.

Linebacker Demario Davis will be a leader of the defense coming off a year in which he was named first-team All-Sun Belt. Also returning at linebacker is Nathan Herrold who started nine games a year ago, recording 78 tackles. In the secondary, Darron Edwards returns after starting every game at corner a year ago, while Kelcie McCray also returns after starting every game at safety.

The secondary could stand to make improvements after finishing 101st in pass efficiency defense a year ago, but the key will be stopping the run. If the defensive front cannot hunker down and keep teams from moving the ball, they’ll have a hard time getting off the field, limiting their own offense’s ability to put points on the board.

Beat Writer’s Take

We’re asking beat writers and alumni from around the country to give their take on the local team heading into the 2011 season. Providing his take on the Red Wolves is Matt Roberson of the Jonesboro Sun:

“Promoted from offensive coordinator to the leading man following last season, new Arkansas State head coach Hugh Freeze brings an energetic style and a riverboat gambler’s mentality to the Red Wolves in 2011. ASU rewrote numerous school passing records in Freeze’s hurry-up, no-huddle offense in 2010 and the Red Wolves figure to light up the scoreboard again this season. But the departure of four starters on the offensive line along with a defensive unit that ranked among the worst in the nation leaves any lofty expectations open for debate.

“Freeze walks to a different drummer’s beat, his play-calling will be unpredictable and the Wolves have installed a defense to match their offense with an aggressive, pressure-oriented attack. Look for Arkansas State to rattle the cage in the Sun Belt and don’t be surprised to see them reach a bowl for the first time since 2005.”

Top 2012 Draft Prospects

Demario Davis, OLB

Season Prediction

3rd Sun Belt Conference

It’s hard to imagine the Red Wolves making the bowl season if they cannot improve their rushing defense. There are some starters that need to be replaced, but what needs to change most is the way they approach the game. To stop teams from running all over them (teams averaged over 200 yards rushing per game against them last season), they’ll have to play with more of a mean streak and aggression. Otherwise, it’ll be a long year for Aplin and the offense as they look to outshoot their opponents week in and week out. The good news is that the skill players are back on the offense and a new defensive scheme should help this team at least be competitive in the conference.

More Sun Belt Previews