Interview: Arkansas State coach Steve Roberts

Arkansas State finished 6-5 in 2005 and made an appearance in the New Orleans Bowl. That's what makes Army's 38-10 win over the Indians at Michie Stadium last November even more impressive. The Black Knights open the 2006 season at Arkansas State on Sept. 2. Don't expect another cakewalk.

Arkansas State was picked to finish second in the preseason Sun Belt Conference poll and head coach Steve Roberts thinks the team is even better this fall.

That said, he expects a fight from Army. Coach Roberts was nice enough to speak with this week about the Black Knights and how Arkansas State is coming along: What are you expecting from Army in the opener?
Steve Roberts: We expect Army to have a good team. They will be disciplined just like last year. They played real well against us, they really took it to us. I think they will be even better than last year.

AS: Are you players excited about getting another shot at Army?
SR: They are extremely excited. I think it's going to be much better playing at home, where we have a five-game winning streak. But we know Army is going to be a difficult chore.

AS: How proud of your team were you last season, putting the Army loss behind them and winning at North Texas the following week to qualify for the New Orleans Bowl (Arkansas State lost to Southern Miss. 31-19)?
SR: I was real proud of the team. They made the plays to get into a bowl game. It was a quality win (over North Texas). We have to build on that, but at the same time forget about it and go forward as a program.

AS: What went wrong against Army last season?
SR: We had a punt return called back, that might have deflated us a little bit. That might have changed the game. But Army controlled both lines of scrimmage and ran the ball well that day.

AS: So you believe this Arkansas State team is better than last year's?
SR: We have a better team, no doubt about it. But we have a much more difficult schedule. We have four games at home and eight on the road.

AS: When will you begin preparing for Army?
SR: The last 10 days of practice or so. I don't want the guys to get bored with the game plan. You have to keep some intrigue, keep them on edge.

AS: Will you throw the so-called "kitchen sink" at new Army quarterback David Pevoto?
SR: I don't know much about the quarterback. We will prepare a sound game for everything from the quarterback to the kicking game. Hopefully, we have some answers for Army.

AS: Speaking of quarterbacks, how is your quarterback battle between red-shirt freshman Corey Leonard and sophomore Travis Hewitt going?
SR: It's a dead heat right now. Both players are playing very well in practice. Both young men are getting better.

AS: What did you think of the performance of Army's much-improved defense when you played last year?
SR: They played extremely hard. The thing that jumped out at me when I broke down film is that they don't give up big plays. They made us earn everything. They are sound and really know how to execute.

AS: Do you expect a closer game this time around?
SR: I sure hope so. But I have to give Army all the credit. They played well last year. Top Stories