It might be hard for the Arkansas State Red Wolves to jump into the Top 25 with a New Orleans Bowl victory over Louisiana Tech, but a season-ending victory could help position the team for the poll next season.
“We have talked about continuing to move up in the conversation for the Top 25,’’ said coach Blake Anderson. “Every week we have gained more momentum and we have gotten more votes and we needed to win last week and win convincing to stay in that conversation. This is a good opponent that would help us gain a lot of respect in that way.
“We loved to start that conversation next year of being a potentially top 25 or maybe the highest group of five team out there. Really the only what to that is to finish off the right way.
Arkansas State has never made the Top 25. The undefeated 1975 team finished in what would have been the top 25 after its 11-0 season but the Associated Press rankings only selected 20 teams that season. The 2012 team, after beating No. 25 Kent State in the GoDaddy Bowl, finished in the 32d spot.
“All you can control is our yourself you go win and you hope you win in a way that people notice. This is a quality opponent; they have a great year. A lot has to do with what happens above us. We are right outside the top 25 with several other teams. Who wins, who loses and how the bowl games finish us. At worst, if you finish 10-3, going into next season you will been a lot more of those conversations especially with as many players has we have returning.
“Our ultimate go is to represent the Group of 5 in January and there is only one way to get it done is to win. It is the next step in my opinion of the conversation.”
With senior defensive end Chris Stone’s arrest last week and suspension from the bowl game, the Red Wolves are looking at options to fill the spot on the defensive front the all-conference performer has held for four seasons.
“The great thing is we have played so many bodies all year and the amount of snaps guys have gotten,’’ said Anderson. “We are limited anyway, we have bene playing a lot of bodies and we are still healthy enough.”
Anderson said freshman Griffin Riggs, sophomore Caleb Caston and junior Darius Rosser, Chris Odom and Chase Robison are likely candidates. Defensive coordinator said redshirt freshman Jarod Chandler is also a candidate.
“It will be by committee. Some of those guys are better at specific roles anyway. One of reason been so good up front is guys have been able to do what they do well.”
Practice schedule this week
The team will have its final Jonesboro practice today then will have Tuesday off for travel.
Red Wolves will work out at the Saints’ training facility Wednesday and Thursday and have a Friday practice at the Superdome. Thursday and Friday practices are closed to all, even media.
Unlike with the GoDaddy Bowl, there is not much extra time for the redshirt players to get in work. Anderson said it is “more like a normal week with a couple of extra practices in there.
We will carry a lot of momentum and excitement in from the championship game into the bowl cycle.”
A-State is two weeks between games; La-Tech will be three weeks off.