About this time next week the Sun Belt Conference release its all-conference team.
Where will Arkansas State quarterback Fredi Knighten fit?
As its leader and catalyst, Knighten is directing a team that is close to making Sun Belt Conference history. The Red Wolves are just 7 touchdowns (41 points) short of the mark the Red Wolves set in 2012 and they will have two games to set the mark. A-State averages 39.7 per game on the season and 47.7 in Sun Belt games.
When you look at the current Sun Belt offensive stats for Knighten, a senior from Little Rock, he is not close to leading the league in any categories.
Knighten ranks eighth in passing average (167.3), but we must note that all but one of the QBs ranked ahead of him play on teams with losing records. He has thrown far fewer passes than those ahead of him and only one is somewhat close (35). He did not play in the victory over Idaho, but he has the second best ratio in the league of 17 touchdowns and just 7 interceptions while passing for 190 yards per game. Knighten has thrown for 875 yards, 8 TDs and 1 interception in three road victories.
In passing efficiency (134.6 and just .4 out of a tie for third), he is fourth, eighth in total offense and is third in rushing yards for quarterbacks.
But his value means so much more. Week after week coaches on the SBC teleconference call have praised the play of Knighten.
“The quarterback in particular (worries me),’’ said New Mexico State coach Doug Martin. “I think he is just a great football player.”
The last time
On Saturday it will be the first time the Red Wolves have had a chance to claim a conference title at home since the 45-0 blitzing of Middle Tennessee in the 2012 season finale.
Some recall it is as infamous “It’s over” game. Legend has it that after the Red Wolves won the coin toss that Ryan Aplin looked at the Blue Raider captains and told them it was over. And he was correct as he completed 19 of 21 passes for 238 yards and 3 touchdowns and added 6 carries for 64 yards and another score.
The game drew a Senior Day crowd of 31,000-plus.
What is down is now up
Three of the league’s doormats have made improvement this year. Georgia State, which was 0-16 in the league coming into this season, can become bowl eligible for the first time with a victory over Georgia Southern. The Panthers are 5-6 and 4-3 in the Sun Belt and have 4th wrapped up. New Mexico State is 4-7 overall but can finish 4-4 in the league with a victory over UL-Monroe on Saturday. Idaho is finished but the 4-8 overall and 3-5 conference marks are major upgrades.
Redshirt sophomore running back Johnston Whitecontinues to pile up good numbers this season. Not the feature back like senior Michael Gordon, or as flashy as freshman Warren Wand, the Memphis product just continues to produce.
In fact, usually when asked about him at press conferences, the A-State staff always use the word “productive.”
Against New Mexico State, he ran 9 times for 84 yards and scored his 13th touchdown of the season. For the year he has 514 yards on 86 carries (6 ypc).
For his career, the former walk-on has 1,028 yards and 19 TDs.
On the Sun Belt Conference call today Anderson said junior offensive tackle Jemar Clark is out for the season with a patellar injury.