But it does not look as bad as it once did. Arkansas State was originally scheduled to open up the 2001 season with consecutive road trips to Georgia, Miami, Kansas State, and Oklahoma. But that has been changed. Head Coach and Athletic Director Joe Hollis said, "The Schedule has been murderous since I have been here but we feel like we have a chance to grow and experience some success."
With an impossible start to the season modified to become and improbable one, Arkansas State has been focusing on their real problem. The Indian offense.
Arkansas State has it bad enough opening the season at Georgia. But their offense has the dubious distinction of having several changes at key spots on the offensive side of the ball. New to the Indians this season are Phil Davis as offensive coordinator/QB coach, Jim Marshall as offensive line coach, and Corby Smith as wide receivers coach.
"Personally, I would prefer we were opening at home with a lesser opponent, but that's not the case."
- Joe Hollis on playing Georgia in Athens
Davis has the biggest challenge of the new offensive coaches. He will start one of two freshman quarterbacks this season, either Josh Driscoll or Elliott Jacobs.
"With a setting like we're going into and a true freshman obviously taking the first snap, there's going to be some struggles and some anxieties. But, usually good athletes work through those types of situations."
"They are both very talented and bring different things to the table. What we're going to do is put them in situations where we feel like they are going to have success."
With neither quarterback ever taking a snap in his career, Davis must depend on two things to happen. Good blocking up front and a solid running game.
Both are possible because of two talented players on the Arkansas State side of the ball. Offensive tackle Gary Johnson and running back Jonathon Adams seem to be the best bets against the Bulldog defensive attack.
Johnson has been called the best player in the Sun Belt by numerous publications. Hollis compares his powerful offensive lineman to Orlando Pace, a player that Hollis helped develop while at Ohio State.
"Gary's got a vast amount of talent. His biggest asset is his ability to move his feet."
Jonathon Adams is Arkansas State's true weapon. The senior averaged 5 yards a carry last season and his coach knows that solid play from Adams is needed Saturday.
"He's always been big, fast and strong. I think the difference in Jonathan is confidence. He's a very confident and understands what we're doing. He is a complete player. He's grown so much off the field. He realized to be the best he can be, he's had to have a strong winter and summer program. He's done those things. He's been very accountable."
Adams averaged over 18 carries a game last season, and that was with more offensive firepower around him. Expect to see a lot of Adams on Saturday.
It seems that Arkansas State has everything going against them on Saturday. The Indians have not won a road season opener in more than a decade. They are starting a freshman at quarterback. They are playing in Athens to a Georgia team that has lost only one out of conference season opener in the last twenty seasons.
"We will gain a tremendous amount of experience in this ball game. Personally, I would prefer we were opening at home with a lesser opponent, but that's not the case."
At least the Indians don't have to travel to Miami next Saturday.
Georgia and Arkansas State kick off at 1pm Saturday.
Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Write me here.