A trio of injuries has the Arkansas State coaching staff reshuffling and making adjusted plans for Saturday’s game with Missouri State.
In the 27-20 loss to No. 21 Missouri, the Red Wolves lost starting linebacker Tajhea Chambers for the season with an ACL tear, quarterback Fredi Knighten is out with a groin pull and safety Bo Sentimore is out with a broken bone in lower leg. Chambers is having surgery this week and Sentimore, according to Coach Blake Anderson, will have surgery when swelling goes down.
Knighten will not play vs. the Bears (1-1) on Saturday.
“When he is 100 percent ready we will put him back on the field,’’ said offensive coordinator Walt Bell. “Part of what made his the best quarterback in our league last year was how dynamic he was. If he says he is hurt he is hurt. He has proven he is a durable kid. He has really gotten beat on the first two games.”
Anderson would like to have Knighten back for the Toledo game on Sept. 26.
“We’d like to have him back for Toledo,’’ said Anderson. “We will just have to get (James) Tabary ready for it all.”
That has left the dominos to fall at both positions.
Redshirt freshman James Tabary, who got some spot duty against Southern Cal and finished out against Mizzou after Knighten was hurt late in the third quarter.
“He has gotten some game reps and there is now way to simulate that,’’ said Anderson. “I thought it was good we got him out there last week against USC. … Those are all going to make him better. The last throw he made that was picked off, he put the ball right where it had to go, but the ball bounced off Trosin’s chest. Fredi cannot make that throw. He does not have that arm.
“He works extremely hard. It means a lot to him. He is in this building every day. If he is not in the film room he is throwing the ball.
“Our offense will not change. We will just find the things that fit him better. I expect him to get better with every rep this week.”
With Tabary getting the start the shuffling starts on the sideline. Redshirt sophomore Cameron Birse, who holds on field goals and PATs, is the No. 2 quarterback. Birse had the role of signaling in plays and that will shift to offensive graduate assistant Kyle Ceffalo. Bell said he will return to the press box. Freshman D.J. Pearson is now the No. 3 quarterback.
Tabary and Birse battled for the No. 2 spots in spring and fall, which Tabary grabbed.
“He was the most consistent, it was easy to go with him,’’ said Anderson. “We probably kept it going longer than we should have, trying to give Cameron every opportunity.
“He has got all the skills needed to be a quarterback. You can’t predict how he will process things in the heat of battle. He is more comfortable in the pocket than Fredi but our game plan will not change much.”
Anderson said he was looking forward to having Chambers and Xavier Woodson, who sat out the first two games because of a suspension, on the field at the same time.
“I was excited to see the speed and range it was going to give us,’’ he said.
Woodson returns helps soften the blow some.
“We will still have four but I was hoping to have five,’’ said DC Joe Cauthen.
“We will likely use Woodson and Lain at the will and Q mostly at the mike,’’ he said. “We hope we can get a few snaps out of Copeland there to spell him some.
“Losing Bo really hurts us because he brings intensity, energy and the ability to cover a lot of field,’’ said Anderson. “He was doing a phenomenal job.”
We also have to find replacement for those guys on special teams,’’ said Anderson. “Know we have to go find someone to till those roles.”
Anderson said there should be no issue in getting the year back for Chambers, who is a true freshman. He will apply for a hardship, much like Daniel Keith did last year.
Sentimore had a redshirt year in junior college so was faced with having just two years when he arrived in Jonesboro. But the school will petition for a sixth year when the time comes.
Audio courtesy Randy Myers, AStateNation Radio on The Ticket. Listen from 11am to 1pm Monday through Friday.