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Arkansas St. Football Preview
by Matt Fargo - 07/30/2008
No. 106 Arkansas St. Red Wolves
2007 Record ~ 5-7 SU ~ 5-7 ATS
Starters Returning ~ Offense (6) Defense (5)
Consistency can be good and bad. Since head coach Steve Roberts took over the Arkansas St. program in 2002, there has been only one season that it has secured fewer than five victories. While that consistency is good, it has not been able to get high enough over the hill to contend in the Sun Belt Conference so it can be considered bad as well. It doesnâ€™t look as though this is the year for that breakthrough either. Playmakers are aplenty but there are too many missing pieces to be able to put it all together.
One of the best offensive backfield combos in the conference is in Jonesboro with quarterback Corey Leonard and running back Reggie Arnold. Leonard completed only 52 percent of his passes but he threw for 2,235 yards and 16 touchdowns while also rushing for 822 yards and five scores. Five of the six leading receivers are back. Arnold had a second straight 1,000-yard season while averaging 6.5 ypc. Their success will have a lot to do with the offensive line that needs to replace four starters.
Defensively, the Red Wolves were very solid last season, fishing tops in the SBC in total defense and 62nd in the country. Much of that had to do with the passing defense that finished 19th in the nation. Fast forward to 2008 and notice all four starters in that secondary need to be replaced. There is some good depth but there will be growing pains. Making up for the backfield will be one of the better defensive lines in the conference but teams will be out to throw so it may not matter all that much.
The schedule is not horrible despite being laden with road games at the end of the season. The Red Wolves come right out of the gate and travel to Texas A&M followed by three straight home games, all of which can be won. From there it is a trip to Memphis and then hosting ULM. What follows isnâ€™t fair to any team as five of its final six games are away from home and the lone home game is against SBC favorite Florida Atlantic. With 16 non-senior starters, next year is the year so Arkansas St. will need to be played in spots.