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Arkansas State Red Wolves and Toledo Rockets Familiar Opponents

The Red Wolves and Rockets have some new faces but they are familiar opponents.

There were a lot of things the Arkansas State Red Wolves learned from their GoDaddy Bowl game with the Toledo Rockets just nine months ago.

That night the Red Wolves were crushed by the Rockets 63-44 in Mobile, Ala.  The teams meet again on Saturday night in Toledo. Kickoff is 6 pm and the game is on ESPN3 and ESPN College Extra.

“A lot of what we studied during the offseason to make us better was because of that game,’’ said Red Wolves offensive coordinator Walt Bell. “There were a lot of woulda, coulda, shoulda in that game and now we have that opportunity to see if we were right.”

Long before that game the Red Wolves’ coaching staff knew changes up front were needed to the help the defense. Toledo ran for 365 yards in that game as both teams put on an offensive show.

“That is the last game we played and we have had to think about that and listen to that a lot all through the off season,” said Anderson. “They know it is a quality football team and if we play our best it will be a great football game. There is no doubt how good they are. I like the fact that we have seen them up close.”

Rockets coach Matt Campbell remembers the Red Wolves well.

“We play an Arkansas State team that in my opinion is equal to any team we have played so far,’’ he said. “They have great skill people. Obviously, we played them just four games ago but this really is a totally different team from that one four games ago. They were an injured team at the end of the year.

“I expect it to be a great, great battle between two good football teams.”

Anderson remembers the Rockets (2-0) too.

“I think we are both going to look like we did in the bowl game with the exception that defensively we look night-and-day differently,’’ said Anderson. “  I hope that helps us make it a lot tougher on them.

“We do match up fairly well with these guys and we know what they look like. They will be better in areas and we will too.”

In that GoDaddy Bowl, Red Wolves’ quarterback Fredi Knighten fumbled on the first play, giving the Rockets a TD and a 7-0 lead just 10 seconds into the game. The Red Wolves tied it on a 44-yard pass to Booker Mays but Kareem Hunt scored two of his five TDs on the next two possessions and the Rockets had too much of a lead for A-State.

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“Certainly a team that is tremendous,’’ said Campbell.  “Great team speed on both sides of the ball. Outstanding quarterback play. They’ve played two this season and both have played well for them.

“One thing that has shown up in the early part of the season they are a really different team in terms of personnel. They had a lot of injuries last year in the bowl game and they are obviously a lot healthier now. They are extremely fast.  I think at least knowing some of the players having some of the ability helps us but it is a different team than we played just games ago.”

 Anderson down played the fact that Toledo owns a 16-12 victory over the Arkansas Razorbacks saying the team wants to be the Rockets “because they are Toledo.”

The players remember the bowl game.

“That was the last taste of football that we had and it was a bad taste,’’ said A-State senior tight end Darion Griswold. “This is something that guys had circled on the schedule and I think the guys will be fired up. We don’t have to talk. We know what to expect.”

The teams will make it three years in a row in 2016 when the Rockets visit Jonesboro. Toledo leads the series 3-0.