| FTBL Arkansas State Preseason Capsule

It Takes Eleven

Quoth the Raven...

Preseason Team Capsule: Arkansas State University

by: It Takes Eleven


ASU finished the 2007 campaign with a 5-7 record. The season included victories over non-conference opponents such as Memphis and SMU. Near misses included narrow losses to New Orleans Bowl champion Florida Atlantic and the University of Texas, falling to both by a combined 11 points.

The Red Wolves return 48 lettermen and 17 starters (6 from special teams) from last year’s squad, including its all conference running back and record setting quarterback.

History and Alabama Connections

Fielding its first team in 1911, Arkansas State has had bright spots during its long football history. The Red Wolves have had 18 postseason or bowl contests, going 9-8-1. A small college national championship is recognized by the undefeated 1970 squad, while the first Division I squad had a perfect 11-0 record in 1975, leading the nation in rushing offense. As a 1-AA competitor in the 80’s, ASU had a run of four years being ranked in the top 12 in the final standings, including runner-up in 1986. State boasted a 20 game home unbeaten streak during this period.

Fall 2008 will be the inaugural season utilizing the new Red Wolves mascot. Known as the Aggies from 1911 through 1924, an ill-fated 1925 switch to the Gorillas was jettisoned in 1930 in favor of the Warriors. The Warriors lasted just one year, and State has been known as the Indians since 1931. An NCAA mandated move away from Native American mascots forced State to change, and football is the first ASU sport to make the shift. “Less visible” teams will make the move to Red Wolves logo over several years.

Red Wolves Wide Receiver Coach Tyler Siskey is a 2000 Troy graduate. Interestingly, Siskey was the Offensive Coordinator and Quarterbacks Coach last season at St. Paul’s Episcopal School in Mobile, coaching Alabama Freshmen Mark Barron and Ivan Matchett, as well as Quarterback A.J. McCarron. a 2009 Alabama verbal commitment. Seven players on State’s roster are from Alabama, some from smaller towns such as Marbury, Eutaw and Pleasant Grove, but others from the more well known football towns of Prattville, Tuscaloosa, Daphne and Town Creek. All seven Alabama players are freshmen or redshirt freshmen.

Alabama and State have met just once, a 1982 34-7 Alabama victory at Legion Field. The tilt in Tuscaloosa will provide the second largest crowd to attend an ASU game, trailing only last’s year’s 102,000 attendance at Tennessee. Alabama and Arkansas State have one common head coach. Former Alabama Head Coach Ray Perkins led State to a 2-9 record in 1992.


Although it lost five offensive starters (four linemen), the offense returns several key playmakers. Junior Quarterback Corey Leonard was an O’Brien semifinalist as a sophomore, and his career passing and total yardage numbers already place him in the top 10 for all ASU players. Leonard generated over 2,700 yards of total offense in 2007. An intelligent player, Leonard graduated with a business degree this past summer after just two full years in Jonesboro, and will begin graduate school in the fall. In addition to returning five of its six top receivers, Juco transfers Taylor Clements and Jahbari McLennan also bolster the receiving corp.

Two-time All-Sun Belt running back Reggie Arnold returns to spearhead the rushing game. Coming off his second consecutive 1,000 yard season, the junior averaged 6.5 yards per carry last year. QB Leonard’s rushing abilities compliment Arnold – Leonard added 547 yards and 5 TDs on the ground last year.


Reggie Arnold

With four starters lost from last year’s offensive line, the Red Wolves look to build around Lombardi preliminary candidate Matt Mandich and three Juco transfers. The line remains a large question mark. Should the transfers step in and contribute, the line may not be a liability. State’s multiple offense should keep defenders guessing and take some of the pressure off the line.


The 2008 defense will be looking for six new starters, including the entire secondary. The front seven will be anchored by senior defensive end Brian Flagg, senior middle linebacker Ben Owens (96 tackles last year), and All-Sun Belt Conference defensive end Alex Carrington. Several members of a strong signing class may contribute on defense this year.


Brian Flagg

Special Teams

Special teams are a bright spot for State. They return all leading players on special teams, including All-Conference punter Brett Shrable, junior kicker Josh Arauco, kick returner Brandon Thompkins and punt returner Kevin Jones. Last season, Thompkins broke the conference record for kickoff return yards, while Jones ranked 22nd nationally in punt returns. Last season, the Red Wolves were the only team in the conference to be in the top three in kickoff returns, punt return average, PAT kicking and kickoff coverage.


Kevin Jones


Offensive playmakers should set the pace early for State. Defensive injuries during fall practice do not bode well for a team looking to replace six starters, and could prove a liability as the season progresses. State faces a difficult season, including matchups with Southern Miss, Alabama and Texas A&M, along with its rival game against Memphis. Look for Arkansas State to repeat last year’s middle of the road 5-7 record.

EARLY game prediction – Bama 44, Arkansas State 10.
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