Monday, September 17, 2007

Arkansas State Preview

Saturday presents another game Tennessee fans aren't used to playing. The game with the Arkansas State Indians is another that will be able to be viewed through PPV Video Seat. Just like for the Southern Miss game we present to you a preview of what you will Saturday lining up against your Vols. This is a Preview from Arkstfan over at Tribal Grounds.

Arkansas State is finding its way back into the respectable realm of college football. From 1963 to 1989, the soon to be re-named Indians won a national title in College Division I (think top Division II plus I-AA together), were runner-ups in I-AA, won seven Southland conference titles, made seven post-season appearances, and won over 60% of its games. During that stretch ASU was coached by three men who had been on staff in Jonesboro prior to being named head coach. Bennie Ellender left for Tulane, Bill Davidson’s health issues sent him into administration and Larry Lacewell left to become defensive coordinator at Tennessee. Current Vol assistant Steve Caldwell was one of the coaches who followed him to Knoxville.After 26 very stable years Arkansas State discovered turmoil. Al Kincaid lasted two years, Ray Perkins stayed a year leaving days before national signing day, John Bobo made it four years, and Joe Hollis five before Steve Roberts was hired. In the five seasons he has completed, Roberts has a losing record at ASU but has matched the win total posted in the nine prior years by Bobo and Hollis. He has one Sun Belt title and one bowl appearance at ASU.

Pictured: Reggie Arnold (Photo by Mark Foltz)
OFFENSE. For five years Arkansas State under Roberts has depended on a power running attack but close observers of the program have felt that was a choice forced upon him by available talent rather than choice. With sophomore QB Corey Leonard now having a half season of starting experience under his belt as a freshman, the ASU attack has been more balanced in 2007, ranking 32nd nationally rushing and 36th passing. While the numbers are helped by playing the porous SMU defense, the Tribe posted only 119 more yards offense against the Ponies than against the Texas Longhorns. Leonard is 47th in the nation in pass efficiency and 20th in total offense due to his rushing ability. The rushing attack is led by another sophomore, Reggie Arnold. Nicknamed “Monsta” because his weight room work, Arnold is a bowling bowl runner who scored at Texas after being hit outside the two yard line and bulling his way into the end zone. (video here The starting five on the line for ASU has played very well. The lack of experienced depth on the line remains a concern. ASU will often use two tight ends and unlike past seasons, they are receiving targets as well.

Corey Leonard(Photo by Mark Foltz)

DEFENSE. Any talk of the ASU defense starts with the senior laden secondary. Sun Belt Pre-Season Defensive Player of the Year Tyrell Johnson attracts most of the attention and is expected to be a fairly early draft pick. The other senior starters, Burns, Harrison, and Toney are being touted as probable late round picks or free agent signees. Johnson has 18 tackles so far this year and Burns has 13. Harrison has 2 interceptions on the season and Johnson has one. The linebackers were a question mark coming into the season. Koby McKinnon and Ben Owens are 2nd and 4th on the tackle chart and McKinnon also has an interception. Up front ASU was concerned about the front four but the performance has been solid this year and ASU is rotating 7 or 8 per game in those positions. The defense attracted a lot of notice by stuffing Texas on a first and goal at the three when the Horns ran four times and netted only two yards and getting the ball back on downs.

Koby McKinnon causes a fumble (Photo By Mark Foltz)

SPECIAL TEAMS. Warning sign that your special teams have issues, your fans are excited about the signing of a top high school deep snapper. That was the case this summer for ASU. A bad snap had given up a TD last season and bad snaps had resulted in some blocked kicks. That part seems fixed. Sophomore Josh Arauco is 3 of 5 on the season placekicking, one miss was a short kick at Texas that was wide left. The other miss would have been one of the longest of his career if he had made it. ASU does not kickoff especially well. Punting is an adventure. Bret Shrable has been inconsistent with his punting but is capable of very long punts, he caught a horrible break against SMU when 40 yard punt from the ASU 2 took a wild high backward bounce and was finally downed at the ASU 28 for a 26 yard punt setting up an SMU touchdown. Kickoff and punt returns have been mediocre so far.

Reggie Arnold (Photo by Mark Foltz)


Docpoco said...

Another great write up by Arkstfan.

Also could have mentioned Preston Brown, the rFR running back who was offered by Tennessee. He was high school teammates with Larry Coker, and is probably just as fast.

Probably will have a good game as he feels like he has a lot to prove.

docpoco said...

Correction... Lamarcus Coker lol.

Anonymous said...

Hope the Vols can pull this one out.

Getting to the Game

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