John Bunch - AStateNation

Arkansas State head coach Blake Anderson on the off-season

Blake Anderson on the off-season

The equipment has been put away.  The stadium lights have been turned off.  The time has come for the Red Wolves football team to enter into its off-season.  Although the work never stops in modern-day football, the official spring practice season came to a close a couple of weeks back following the final whistle of the Spring Game.  Have things died down a bit?  Well, no, not at all.  Recruiting efforts by the staff have kicked into high gear as the assistants travel far and wide looking for the next Red Wolves players.  Head Coach Blake Anderson is traveling around to meet Red Wolves fans everywhere.  Oh, and there have been some interesting developments at the quarterback position, in case you haven't heard.  So with all of that in mind, AState Nation brings you the latest ‘5th Quarter with Coach Anderson’: Off-season Edition.

The 5th Quarter with Coach Anderson:

1st Quarter:  The Spring Game ends.  You're turning the lights off and locking the doors as you head into the off-season. What's the first thing your mind thinks about in regards to the team and next season? – “I keep thinking it’s all a work in progress. Lots of talent, raw talent. Very fast, but far from complete and we still have a lot of work to do.  We still have so many unanswered questions coming out of spring ball mainly do to injuries and being able to see who can do what we need them to do on the field. And honestly, most of those questions lie on the offensive side of the ball, which is what we expected coming into the spring. We definitely got a lot of good work in but getting guys back healthy and seeing them on the field in fall camp will be big for us.  What hasn't changed and what I don't stop thinking about is me being excited about what this team can be and how good our season will be if it all comes together the way we want it to this fall.”

2nd Quarter:  Is there a single player or two that surprised you most this spring? – “One guy that nobody expected to make as big of an impact as he did throughout the spring was Kyle Wilson.  We knew we recruited a great player, but the guy just got better and performed every single day. He made a significant impact from Day 1 and that has opened up possibilities for us as coaches to be flexible in our rotations and how we can move guys around and see what else other guys can do.  Kyle is a guy we didn't expect to show up so often and so soon in his development this spring. It was awesome to witness. Offensively, up until his injury, I though Chris Murray was having a fantastic spring.  And he’ll be fine by the time the season gets here, but it seemed like every day he showed us he's prepared to have a great season and really a great career here.  So I'm excited to see what he does for us this season. Same goes for Warren Wand.  He missed some practice due to injury but when he practiced he just reminds you constantly of how talented he really is for us.”

3rd Quarter:  This spring was different for the program in that you didn't just add new players into the mix, but you added a few new coaches who replaced some departing coaches as well.  How do you think everybody handled that transition this spring? – “Well, you're right, we've never experienced this type of change yet.  What helped though was bringing in guys that didn't bring in big egos and try to change what we do here. They're team-first guys that have done a great job of finding how they fit into what we do, while also bringing new ideas to the table. They're different personalities than the guys we had before but I think they did a great job adapting to our environment. I think they've been good fits and will be good fits moving forward.  I was happy to see how the relationships between them and the players developed over the spring. They're all good communicators and have a heart for coaching and teaching kids. You can tell we’re going to have some great position group rooms as we move forward and I'm excited about that aspect of what they bring to the program.”

4th Quarter:  This was your 3rd spring as a head coach.  Taking a look at yourself and your experience, is this job better than you thought, more stressful, or right about what you expected coming into it? – “Yes, all of the above. It's all of those things.  Stress level stays pretty high, but I love this job and I'm having a blast doing it. I've got a group of coaches that really make my job easier. I've got a group of players that have helped us create a culture that is not only successful, but something we can be proud of too. But this job doesn't stop, whether it's year 1 or year 3, it keeps on rolling from one thing to the next. There really isn't an off-season. The spring ended, but recruiting is year round and the minute spring is over there are always things you want to be better.  Unless you go undefeated there are always games you feel like you left on the table. So it's just a train that keeps on rolling, but I love every minute of it. I'm a lucky guy that gets to do a job I love.”

Overtime:  Summer is approaching so what is the Anderson Family looking forward to most this summer? – “Honestly, we’re just going to focus on enjoying some family time. We're not going to do a whole lot of traveling. Colton should be finishing up soon this summer and then hopefully be a part of our team this fall. Callie has cheerleading stuff going on and Cayson will be working out getting ready for high school football. So I envision a lot of pool time and hanging as a family this summer.  We’ll be hanging in town a bunch and staying local. I’m happy in a pair of flip flops, music playing, and sitting around the pool with friends and family. It doesn't take a whole lot to keep me happy.”

Double Overtime:  Anything else you're looking forward to this summer? – “You know, I am looking forward to the 1st Red Wolves Fantasy Camp.  I can't wait. It comes at the very end of vacation. I'm really looking forward to seeing some guys out on the field; especially some guys that really like to talk about how good of an athlete they are…or, um, were back in the day.  Guys like Jeff Greenberg who claim to be able to make it rain on the field with an ‘Elway arm.’  I'm looking forward to those guys being able to go out there and show their stuff. This is one of those ‘put up or shut up’ type of deals.  That rare opportunity in a grown man’s life where he gets to step up to the plate and show people what he is or what he was on the football field.  We're going to have a blast and like we always do here, we’re going to do it right.”