This one was about what was expected.
Missouri State struggled with a Division II team in getting its first victory last week. It was a perfect scenario for breaking in a new quarterback and letting a lot of injured guys get a break before the final nine games of the season against peer teams.
Missouri State was game and played hard but the talent differential was huge. As Missouri State coach Dave Steckel said this week on A-StateNation radio “you’re pretty damn good.”
The main stays for work, Michael Gordon and JD McKissic, and a lot of guys got to see playing time. And we mean a lot of guys. AState played 63 players (the same number of scholarships an FCS is allowed), and the only ones who did not see action were guys headed for a redshirt year.
Next week we start the real season on the road against a Toledo team that has defeated Arkansas and Iowa State in consecutive weeks.
“We needed a night where we could just work on us, but I’ve seen those games where they were close all the way through and where we had penalties and turnovers and so we’ve been here before and not take advantage of this opportunity,’’ said coach Blake Anderson.
The Redshirt freshman had an impressive debut, finishing 21 of 24 for 255 yards and 3 touchdowns. Tabary had 11 receivers catch passes, including five by the tight ends. He completed 14 of his final 15 and was 6 of 6 in the second half.
“I thought he played great,’’ said Coach Blake Anderson. “You know I think we all knew he could and I thought the offensive line did a great job giving him time and I thought Walt called a game that would allow him to get comfortable and use a lot of intermediate type of stuff early. He didn’t put the ball in harm’s way.”
Tabary played the final quarter of the Missouri game after Fredi Knighten was injured.
“I felt absolutely amazing,’’ said Tabary. “I know I should have been nervous but I didn’t at all. Not even at USC for Missouri for some reason.”
THE TIGHT ENDS
The Red Wolves targeted the tight ends on 6 throws, five of them completions. Darion Griswold caught 3 for 39 yards and had a 16-yard TD reception on the game’s first drive. Warren Leapheart caught 2 for 38 yards.
“I’ve never been that wide open,’’ said Griswold, “not even in practice.”
Anderson said he was glad to see Leaphart get involved in the offense too, not only with his receptions but his blocking.
“No more than we normally do,’’ said Anderson. It is just the way they played us. The protection we used had the linebackers running really hard and the middle of the field was wide open. We have run that same concept in the first two games and just got played differently. … Tonight just happened to be a night where the tight ends had an opportunity to be more involved.”
In the first half 9 Red Wolves caught passes and 5 carried the ball. That total grew in the second half to 12 in the second half. J.D. McKissic caught 4 and Griswold and Sterling Stowers caught 3 each. In the rushing attack, six guys got carries, led by Johnston White and Warren Wand with 11 each. The Red Wolves averaged 7.5 yards per rush and finished with 344 yards.
AND ON DEFENSE
The tackle chart listed 31 players making stops, led by Austin Copeland with six and freshman Justin Clifton with five. Jamaris Hart had his first career interception and sack and finished with 2 tackles. The Red Wolves had seven tackles for loss for 23 yards. Missouri State forced three negative yardage plays for A-State.
Freshman safety Chauncey Mason saw his first action of the season.