One thing that every new football season brings is hope to optimism especially to a team with a new coaching staff, new personnel and a new schematic system.
There are a lot of unknowns surrounding this Arkansas State Football team.
Last year the defense was horrid and most everyone looking in from the outside probably thinks it will be weak again.
No one on the National front is giving Arkansas State a fighting chance in this one.
Take the Western Kentucky vs Kentucky game last night.
Two teams with two new identities. The Hilltoppers had a new man calling the defense and it showed. Kentucky ended up winning the game, but it was a lot closer than anyone expected it to be.
When Arkansas State opens up with Illinois on Saturday there will be a lot of new reasons for higher expectations.
This team has almost everyone back on the offensive side of the ball, better running backs, better wide receivers and a bigger more athletic line. The two major drawbacks is inexperience and depth.
If this Arkansas State team can score points like they did a lot of times last fall this game could become interesting in a hurry.
Hugh Freeze's new offensive system set all type of records last fall.
Now with a complete year underneath their belts the offense should be better. Ryan Aplin has to be better for this team to have the success fans are hoping for. He should be better, now he just has to play smarter. He has to utilize his tools around him instead of trying to do everything for himself.
The defense is better.
It has given the offense fits all during fall camp. Now the real question is how much better is this defensive unit.
It will be severely tested by a bigger Illinois offensive line. They are going to try to line up and punch the football down the throats of this defense.
Some fans are predicting that Illinois will rush for over 300 yards with their massive line and talented backs. If they do it will be a long game of Arkansas State fans. This defense has showed a lot of passion and fire this fall so far and no matter how they play against Illinois I will stress again it's a much better unit.
The keys to the game for Arkansas State: The Red Wolves must have success on the offensive side of the ball, if they can score 28-32 points against Illinois I like their chances to win the game or have a chance to win the game at the end of the contest.
Another key to the game is the Red Wolves defensive line has to use their speed advantage against a bigger slower offensive line. It has to be disruptive throughout the game.
This Red Wolf defensive secondary must make some big plays.
A defensive score or two would be greatly appreciated and needed.
I truly think this game has a chance to be a much better game than most expect. Regardless of the outcome it will take some time to find out exactly how good both teams really are.
This is only game one, but what a way to start out the Hugh Freeze era of coaching at Arkansas State if the Red Wolves could find a way to win this game.
It would make for a much sweeter and quicker trip back home.
See you at the game, everyone be safe going to Champaign, stay tuned to AStateNation.com for complete coverage of the game, we will be there.