Tradition dictates that I start by reviewing the keys to the game, so I’ll start there.
Penalties. AState had eight. Not ideal but second lowest total of the season.
Defense win the line. UCA was held to 60% of its per carry average rushing and but for a few big plays against the third down package, would have been even better.
Build on offensive confidence. A mixed bag. A good passing night but horrible rushing.
Offense win the line. Failure. The rushing game was nearly non-existent and Hansen was under more pressure than is acceptable.
What the heck is wrong?
The best analogy I have is cooking a pot of chili. You have a recipe that works. Problem is you have to make a pot and you are missing some ingredients that have been replaced with something else. You can just throw the substituted ingredients in and use the same quantities and expect it to turn out the same way or you can taste and adjust.
What’s worked, isn’t working, in large part because the ingredients have changed and the formula has to adjust as well.
First, I would have described the offensive line last year as fairly average. Wasn’t the best in the Sun Belt, wasn’t the worst.
Four games in 2016 we’ve been able to rush for about the same number of yards as last season… against Texas State.
This basically the same line as last year, either they forgot how to play over the summer or what they are now being asked to do doesn’t fit their skills and ability.
There appears to be a disconnect in play selection and personnel on the field. Some examples
Stowers seems to have a good grasp of the offense and a great work ethic as the #2 A back and he gets the only carry on a sweep. The play you would expect would be Echols-Luper’s chance to shine gets called once in the game while he is on the bench.
The return positions have been a revolving door and the decision-making less than stellar, a punt is stopped short of the end zone to be returned and becomes poor field position, a missed field goal that is returned loses 13 yards of field position by being returned.
Using an all defensive end front on passing downs has resulted in giving up some big rushes.
Stuff I don’t understand
We’ve seen more of rugby style punters than I care to think of. AState hasn’t done a good job of pressuring punters who roll out before punting forcing them to kick sooner before more tacklers get further downfield and absent that pressure AState is leaving a single returner to dash to where the ball ends up instead of using a second returner to split the coverage duties to field the ball.
The offense just isn’t using pre-snap motion. There are four primary reasons to use pre-snap motion.
It can help the quarterback figure out if he is facing man or zone coverage based on how the defense reacts to motion.
There is an opportunity for a fast developing running play by handing off to the man in motion
Putting the tight end in motion can shift the strength of the offensive blocking from one side to the other, often used to move the power of the offensive line away from a better run defender.
It can open up space for a receiver. A corner crossing the field to stay on his assigned receiver has to dodge other defensive players to follow and is generally deep behind the line of scrimmage creating more run for the receiver to work.
A few positives
Blake Mack is becoming the go to guy when the Red Wolves must have yardage.
Cameron Echols-Luper has become a bit more involved in the scheme with good results.
Five different players produced tackles for loss.
Money Hunter and Justin Clifton recorded 12 tackles each
Warren Wand had 124 all-purpose yards receiving and rushing.
Wrapping it up.
AState has lost four in a row on the season. That’s the first time since 2009 to lose four straight in a season.
AState’s total five game losing streak is the longest since 2003-2004.
The last time AState started a season 0-4 was 2001.
The Red Wolves have 10 days to figure out how to adjust the recipe.