Here are some observations from the 55-6 loss to USC Saturday night in California. Always needing to play a perfect game when facing a team like the 8th-ranked Trojans, it did not happen. A-State had 4 turnovers and 88 yards in penalties. Meanwhile, USC had no turnovers and was penalized three times for 25 yards.
- USC’s defense was perhaps better than expected. The Trojans’ speed caused issues all night. That being said the offense did produce, but sustaining drives was an issue.
- Arkansas State out-rushed the Trojans 208 to 187. But USC was 23 of 32 passing for 320 yards. QB Cody Kessler, a Heisman candidate, threw 4 TD passes.
- The Arkansas State passing game was shaky. Fredi Knighten finished 8 of 23 for 86 yards and 2 interceptions. For the night the Red Wolves were 17 of 37 for 193 yards.
- Turnovers: Two lost fumbles and 2 interceptions. Knighten’s first interception stopped the Red Wolves’ drive into Trojans’ territory. Trailing 7-0, his overthrown pass was intercepted that the 11. The second interception, this one deflected off Tyler Trosin, was returned 32 yards to the 6 and produced points. One fumble, actually ruled a backwards pass, was returned for a score.
- While Knighten struggled passing, he was very good in the running game, finishing with 58 yards on 14 carries. His execution of the read-option was the best of his career. He was also just sacked one time.
- Speaking of sacks. A-State recorded 5, including 2.5 by freshman LB Tajhea Chambers.
- Speaking of freshmen … Chambers led the Red Wolves with 8 tackles and Warren Wand, the 5-foot-5 running back, had 10 carries for 52 yards and caught a pass for 10 yards. LB Justin Clifton showed his athleticism with his ability for open-field tackles.
- Not a true freshman, but redshirt frosh QB James Tabary got his first action. He finished 7 of 11 passing for 95 yards. His biggest snafu was the backwards pass that was ruled a fumble and turned into a scoring play for the Trojans. Cameron Birse, redshirt sophomore, also saw action and was 2 of 2 for 12 yards.
- Luke Ferguson. The senior from Jonesboro punted 7 times for a 45yard average. One kick, with a low trajectory, was returned 21 yards. He has two kicks downed inside the 20.
- J.D. McKissic grabbed 5 passes for 36 yards and showed great hands and concentration on a couple.
- The line play. On Offense it looked much improved over last season. Allowing just 1 sack against that team was a pretty good showing. And on the other side, no one expected the Red Wolves to out-rush the Trojans.