Leading the way is an explosive offense that scored 62 points and put up 672 yards of total offense last week. Much of that was done on the ground as the Red Wolves tied an NCAA record with four 100-yard rushers in a game. Running backs David Oku, Sirgregory Thornton and Michael Gordon along with wildcat quarterback Fredi Knighten all topped the century mark as Arkansas State ran for a nation-best 509 yards.
A veteran that ran for over 1,000 yards and scored 16 touchdowns on the ground a year ago, Oku is the top rushing options for first-year coach Bryan Harsin, but he's far from the only weapon as the physical Thornton and Gordon are both capable of getting the job done.
At quarterback Utah State transfer Adam Kennedy completed 9-12 passes in the opener for 149 yards and one touchdown. With a strong arm and the ability to stretch the defense, Kennedy has plenty of weapons to throw to led by sophomore receiver J.D. McKissic. A Phenix City native, McKissic caught just two passes for three yards last week, but added three carries for 22 yards including a 14-yard touchdown. Last season he caught a school record 103 passes as a redshirt freshman.
Up front Arkansas State has one of the top center prospects in the country in sophomore Bryce Giddens. Surrounding him are three preseason All-Sun Belt Conference performers, seniors Cliff Mitchell and Steven Haunga at guard and fellow senior Aaron Williams at tackle.
On the other side of the ball Arkansas State doesn't get as much attention, but they have been just as solid. The Red Wolves have not allowed the opponent to rush for over 100 yards in their last six regular season games and leading the charge is massive nose tackle Ryan Carrethers. On both the Bednarik and Outland Trophy Watch Lists to start the season, the 6-2, 330 senior made five and a half tackles in the opener with one and a half sacks and two tackles for losses.
He was part of a six-sack attack for the Arkansas State defense against an outmanned Arkansas-Pine Bluff offense. Tanner native Amos Draper is an athletic defensive tackle that can make plays as well while Chris Stone and Eddie Porter hold down the edge. Darius Dunaway (6-5, 259, Sr.) comes off the bench to provide a spark for the defense and last week had one and a half sacks.
At linebacker Prattville native Qushaun Lee is a fireplug in the middle of the Arkansas State defense. Last week he finished with five and a half tackles with two of those coming behind the line of scrimmage. In the secondary two more Alabama natives are players to watch as sophomores Chris Humes and Rocky Hayes are both playmakers. A top reserve on defense last season, Humes should flourish as a full-time starter this season. An offensive standout for Gus Malzahn and Rhett Lashlee last year, Hayes made the move to cornerback and has already earned a starting role.
In the kicking game senior Brian Davis is one of the best in the land. Needing just 53 points to set the career scoring record in the Sun Belt Conference, Davis is on the Lou Groza Watch List for the 2013 season. Finishing as a semi-finalist as a junior, Davis connected on 17-21 field goals and set a school record with 53 made extra points in a season.
By The Numbers:
9--Plays of over 20 yards for the Arkansas State offense last week
14--Statistical categories in which Arkansas State ranks in the Top 10 in the country after the first game
18--The numbers of Red Wolves named to a preseason All-Sun Belt Conference team.
20--The number of wins for Arkansas State in its last 25 regular season games.
300--Arkansas State has gone over 300 yards of total offense in 36 of its last 39 games.
Projected Depth Chart
Left Tackle--67 Aaron Williams (6-5, 320, Sr.)
Left Guard--60 Steven Haunga (6-3, 317, Sr.)
Center--68 Bryce Giddens (6-0, 300, So.)
Right Guard--63 Cli? Mitchell(6-5, 284, Sr.)
Right Tackle--61 Colton Jackson (6-4, 276, Fr.)
Quarterback--5 Adam Kennedy (6-5, 224, Sr.)
Running Back...25 David Oku (5-10, 202, Sr.) and 21 Sirgregory Thornton (5-11, 215, Sr.)
Tight End--19 Darion Griswold (6-4, 264, So.) or 87 Kenneth Rains (6-4, 260, Jr.)
WR (H)--23 J.D. McKissic (5-11,193, So.)
WR (Z)--17 Allen Muse (6-4, 226, Sr.)
WR (X)--7 Julian Jones (6-0, 202, Sr.)
Defensive End--37 Eddie Porter (6-2, 252, Sr)
Nose Tackle--98 Ryan Carrethers (6-2, 330, Sr.)
Defensive Tackle--97 AmosDraper (6-3, 266, Sr.)
Defensive End--42 Chris Stone (6-3, 252, So.)
Stinger LB--5 Kyle Coleman (6-1, 228, Jr.)
Mike Linebacker--48 Qushaun Lee (5-11, 247, Jr.)
Wolf--.6 Frankie Jackson (5-9,198, Jr.) or 1 Charleston Girley (6-0,196, So.)
Cornerback--10 Artez Brown (6-0,180,Jr.)
Rover--29 ChrisHumes (6-0, 207, So.)
Free Safety--11, Sterling Young (6-2,193, Jr.)
Cornerback--3 RockyHayes (5-11,177, So)
Kicker--2 Brian Davis (5-11, 186, Sr.)
Punter--4 Paul Jones (6-2, 205, Fr.)
Kickoff Return--23 J.D. McKissic (5-11, 193, So.) and 25 David Oku (5-10, 202, Sr.)
Punt Return--4 R.J. Fleming (5-9, 180, Sr.)