I spoke with Jeremy Harper of Forgotten5.com about the upcoming game between Auburn and the Arkansas State Red Wolves.
1) Arkansas State lost a ton of production from last season with QB Fredi Knighten, the leading rusher, and the top 4 receivers all having moved on. What do the Red Wolves have to replace those key cogs from the 2015 Sun Belt Championship team?
Coach Blake Anderson and his staff did a good job picking up some intriguing transfers and JUCOs to provide immediate experience at those positions. Fifth-year transfer Chad Voytik comes by way of Pittsburg to handle the signal calling, and transfers from Texas (Kendall Sanders) and TCU (Cameron Echols-Luper) take over at wide out. There’s not question that there’s talent on the offensive side of the ball. Now it’s got to click.
2) ASU finished 94th in scoring defense last season and 117th in total defense while allowing 31 points per game. Toledo scored 31 on them just the other night. How do you feel about this year's defense so far?
With the addition of defensive lineman Dee Liner (transfer from Alabama)* and the return of a great deal of front-line talent, the Red Wolves were expected to be more dangerous on defense than last year. Toledo executed better than Arkansas State in Week One. Hats off to the Rockets! Nobody is panicking about the Red Wolves defense yet.
3) What match-up do you see the Red Wolves being most capable of exploiting in this game?
The Red Wolves defense didn’t have a great game against Toledo, but we expect it to perform better against Auburn. We hope to see more pressure on Sean White than what was placed on Toledo’s Logan Woodside. Hopefully, that will lead to Auburn mistakes and turnovers.
4) What match-up are you most worried about?
I can’t speak for the team, but I live in fear of Auburn’s linebackers and the all-SEC defensive lineman Carl Lawson. He was a force against Clemson. Red Wolves wide receivers will never see the ball if Lawson is allowed to destroy Chad Voytik behind the line of scrimmage.
5) Any chance ASU wears those strange uniforms they wore in 2013? I recently got to speak with Auburn PA announcer Ric Smith and he said those were the absolute worst uniforms he's experienced in his 10 years of calling games just because they absolutely could not read the numbers or so who was making what plays for ASU during the game.
(Stares blankly into space)
6) Predictions for how this one will play out?
If the Red Wolves execute they way they did against Toledo, it will be an absolutely miserable night for Arkansas State. But if Auburn comes in hungover after Clemson, and if the Red Wolves defense can rediscover its penchant for disruption, A-State has a chance to coming away with an upset over its former head coach.
*In fairness to Jeremy, his answers were sent to me before the word came out that many stAte players, including Liner reportedly, are dealing with an illness.