Spring Practice Preview

After a month of intense off-season work, the Arkansas State Red Wolves begin their first spring practice under Blake Anderson today. Anderson and his staff will be looking to find answers and continue the successful Red Wolves' run that has included three straight Sun Belt Conference titles and consecutive bowl victories.

And the answer to one of the fans' most asked question is yes practices will be open.

"I know you say 15 days of practice but you don't get 15 days of practice," said Anderson. " And by the time you have the spring game and a couple of days where you have just helmets and shorts and you have a prep day for the spring game. So out of the 15 you are going to get about 10 solid days. Scrimmage days are just pure evaluation.

"For the kids it is learning; for us it is evaluation. If we come out of the spring with a good solid understanding of the base offense and defense, and that is all we did, if we just knew the basics to get them into the summer, so they can work on their own and get them back to fall camp with the foundation put in, that would be a huge spring for us.

"And we would like to come out of it as healthy as possible because we have no depth.

"Right now our biggest challenge will be terminology and tempo."

The Red Wolves will have 15 practices, including the Spring Game on Friday, April 18, over a five-week period. They take a week off for spring break after the first week of work.

The first week of practice has workouts set for Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Practices are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m.

The first day back from spring break is March 31. The Red Wolves have planned scrimmages on April 7 and April 14.

"For us as a staff we have to find the personality of our football team," said Anderson. "We have got to learn who these guys are. They are just names on a board right now. We need to know who we can count on.

"We have no idea what we have. This is a new football team. We get one year at a time with these guys. They will be who they want to be. There is something to say for learning to win and having the expectations to win too.

"The work ethic of the kids, which is obvious because, you don't win, has been good. You don't win three years in a row like they have if you don't have a good work ethic that is instilled. I have been really pleased with how they have handled the transitions with us and the new strength staff. Very few hic-cups.

"Right now it is pretty simple we have to learn the kids, learn the basics and try to get the most of 15 days that we can. Right now we have 120 guys who have never done it. You can't try to do it too fast. Take small steps. You can't try to go too fast. And understand that everyone is starting from scratch, even the staff."

The Red Wolves return six starters on offense and eight on defense from last year's team that finished 8-5 and defeated Ball State in the GoDaddy Bowl. In that group are eight all-conference players. Among the newcomers at practice are linebacker Carderious Dean and offensive lineman Kyle Harris, both from Itawamba (Miss.) Community College, freshman cornerback Blaise Taylor and sophomore A.J. Turner, a former East Poinsett standout who transferred from the University of Arkansas.

The Red Wolves will start with a depth chart that was based on several things.The coach said Fredi Knighten will start as the No. 1 quarterback.

"I think he has earned that," he said, "based on what he has done in offseason, the past few games and in the bowl game."

As far the rest of the team.

"We watch game tapes so we know who has played in the past," said Anderson. "You don't what to lock yourself in. Maybe there is a guy who has been overlooked in the past. Maybe there is someone who was late to develop. Our first day depth chart for spring will be based on film study that we have seen and how they responded during a month worth of off-season.

"One of the most impressive things is how much our guys are in the building voluntarily to watch film on their own. I have been really impressed with how much they are around the building without being asked to be around the building.

"What you hope is guys who have performed well in the past stay there and guys who the guys who were in the back, whose role was not big, will take advantage of this opportunity to step into a bigger role and show that they can contribute.

Anderson said receiver Tres Houston, running back Kendrick Daniels and defensive lineman Dexter Blackmon will be somewhat limited.

"For the most part we are pretty healthy, but we are going to need to move some guys across the ball. We need to move a couple of guys who can service us in the defensive line. We don't have to target a guy too soon. We wanna make sure it is the right move but we definitely have to address the defensive line. It is our biggest most significant issue. I have concerns about every position on our field. The defensive line is glaring."

Arkansas State will open its 2014 season Aug. 30 at home against Montana State.

2014 A-STATE SPRING PRACTICE SCHEDULE

March 17, March 18, March 20, March 21, March 31, April 2, April 4, April 7 (scrimmage), April 9, April 11, April 14 (scrimmage), April 16, April 17, April 18 (spring game), April 21.