2022 Arkansas St. Red Wolves Preview

by Matt Fargo

Arkansas St. Red Wolves

2021-22 Season Record 2-10 (1-7 SBC West) - 6-6-0 ATS - 3-9-0 O/U

Returning Starters

Offense - 5
Defense - 6

Overview

Arkansas St. went to one bowl game in its first 10 seasons in the Sun Belt Conference and then went to the postseason nine straight years but the Red Wolves are coming off two straight losing seasons. This includes a 2-10 record last season under first year head coach Butch Davis so it is time to get this program back on track but it might not happen overnight. One of the football adages is success, or lack thereof, comes with being able to run the ball and stop the run and Arkansas St. was awful at both last season. That has to change quickly and the ask goes to a lot of newcomers on both ends which really may not be a bad thing. The conference schedule is on their side for the most part and with the coaching staff and systems going into a second straight season, things will get better and the Red Wolves might have a shot in the average Sun Belt Conference West Division.

Offense

The Red Wolves could not run the ball last season as they rushed for 100 or more yards only three times and they averaged 82.4 ypg on 2.83 ypc, both of which were No. 128 in the country while their four rushing touchdowns were the fewest in the nation. Leading rusher Lincoln Pare, who accounted for 448 of the total 989 rushing yards, transferred out but that is not a huge deal as there are two very capable runners coming back in Johnnie Lang, Jr. and Alan Lamar. The issue is up front as the offensive line got no push and while the Red Wolves are led by tackle Robert Holmes, there are new faces along the front that will dictate how much they will improve. The passing game was solid as they used two quarterbacks after James Blackman was injured but he is back and ready to lead the attack that has to replace leading receiver Corey Rucker but No. 2 and No. 3 are back.

Defense

While the offense scored on the ground just four times, opposing offenses rushed for 32 touchdowns and that was the biggest disparity in the conference. Overall, the Red Wolves were dead last in the nation, allowing 261.2 ypg on the ground and they look to tackle John Mincey, a former Tennessee player, and linebackers Jaden Harris and Melique Straker to shore up the rushing defense that will be very young in other spots. A repeat of last season will be a disaster. The passing defense was not great either as Arkansas St. finished No. 94 in yards allowed and gave up a whopping 14.26 yards per completion, seventh highest in the country. The prementioned linebackers will play a big role as the secondary needs help after starting safeties and leading tacklers Elery Alexander and Jarius Reimonenq have moved on. The cornerbacks have experience but are unproven.

2022 Season Outlook

It starts and ends with the running game on both sides plain and simple. The Red Wolves have nowhere to go but up and how far they can ascend will be the difference. The three toughest games on the schedule are against Ohio St., Memphis and Louisiana and they are all on the road so those can be chalked up as losses. Two other road games are at former C-USA programs Old Dominion and Southern Mississippi and those are both swing games. The home portion of the schedule looks tame on paper as the Red Wolves open with Grambling St. of the FSC and get new FBS member James Madison to go along with four other games against teams that has losing records last season. The Red Wolves have a 5 -120 O/U win total so sweeping the home slate, which is very possible, or pulling off a road win in those swing games can vault them to a .500 record and a return to a bowl game. 

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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