Idaho hosts Arkansas State Today

Idaho's opponent today (2pm PST Kickoff), Arkansas State, has been flirting with a .500 record most of this season, and will try to even their Conference mark this afternoon in The Dome. The Indian's boast the Conference's top tailback, and have yielded just 80 points in 5 conference games this season.

GAME TIME: 2:00 PM (PST), Moscow, ID (The Dome)

LINE: Idaho (1-3 SBC, 2-8) by 3.5 over ASU (2-3 SBC, 5-7)

TV: None

SERIES RECORD: Idaho leads 3-2

Arkansas State has played a long, and grueling schedule this year. First, they will end the year having played 13 consecutive games (no bye week). They started the year getting soundly thrashed by Virginia Tech 63-7, and were thumped by Illinois (59-7) and Ole Miss (52-17).

However, under first year head coach Steve Roberts, the Indians have been competitive against mid-majors, and have won games they were favored to win. They played 2 WAC teams, losing at home to San Jose State (33-14), and beating Tulsa on the road (21-19). They've beaten both sub-1A teams they've faced, including Tennessee-Martin (30-10) and Southern Utah (38-16).

In Conference, they've beaten MTSU (13-7) and UL-M (33-21). They've lost to North Texas (13-10), NMSU (26-21), and UL-L (13-10). They have a good defense, led by senior Nose Guard Corey Williams, who leads the conference in sacks, and an offense that is growing in confidence, led by Danny Smith, who leads the Conference's in rushering.

Below is a quick glimpse at the players to look for this weekend, followed by links to additional information on the Arkansas State University Indians.

Danny Johnston / AP
Sophomore quarterback #12 Elliot Jacobs.
Indian Offense

Projected starting lineup:

QB Elliot Jacobs, 6-2, 218, So
RB Danny Smith, 5-9, 171, Sr
FB Shane Tolleson, 5-11, 225, Sr
WR Mike Cox, 5-11, 175, Jr
WR Jerome Stegall, 6-0, 210, So
TE Frank Arritt, 6-3, 247, Jr
LT Garry Johnson, 6-4, 306, Sr
LG Jesse Duncan, 6-2, 338, Sr
C Tab Slaughter, 6-2, 287, So
RG John Crossley, 6-2, 325, Sr
RT Kimani Jones, 6-4, 300, Jr

The Indians are a fairly veteran group, with 5 senior and 3 junior starters, including 3 seniors on the line. But they are young in the pocket, led by sophomore Elliot Jacobs (131 yards passing per game). Their strength right now is running the ball (2 rushers among league's top 10, led by Danny Smith's 98 yards per game), but they will go 3 wide and try to spread the field on occasion.

Senior wide receiver James Hickenbotham is just about as good as anyone in our conference (2001 1st Team All SBC kickoff return specialist), he just isn't getting thrown the ball much this year. If the ASU passing game opens up, look for James to be a major reason why.

Up front the Indians are led by 1st Team All-SBC offensive tackle Garry Johnson (6-4, 293). This group has been together for quite some time, and have produced 1000 yard rushers each of the last 2 years. Its not a gigantic group, but they are effective.

David Quinn / AP
Sophomore Defensive End #19 Courtney Todd brings down a San Jose State runner.
Indian Defense

Projected starting lineup:

DE Zach Grigsby, 6-0, 249, Jr
DT Jon Bradley, 6-2, 279, Sr
NT Bryant Berry, 6-0, 284, Jr
DE Courtney Todd, 6-2, 221, So
MLB Steven Tookes, 5-10, 234, So
WLB Les Echols, 5-11, 213, Jr
LC Johnathan Burke, 6-0, 180, Jr
SS Lamar Lee, 6-1, 174, Jr
FS Alex Peoples, 6-1, 194, So
WS LeKeith Grace, 6-0, 201, Jr
RC Walter Priestly, 5-10, 178, So

Get used to seeing the names above, because all but one of these Indian defenders will be back next year. They don't have any remarkable size (backup nose tackle, senior Corey Williams is the biggest of the bunch, by far, at 6-4, 292 pounds), but they are quick. As a group they are giving up 27 points per game on the year, and in 5 Conference games they've given up just 80 points. Not North Texas numbers, but definitely respectable stats any way you cut them.

Although nobody in this group is at the top of the Conference tackle charts, they have a remarkable 4 players who lead the league in forced fumbles (DT Jon Bradley with 4, and FS Alex Peoples a NT Bryant Berry each have 3). Backup nose tackle Corey Williams is 6th in the conference in tackles for loss, and number 1 in sacks (9).

Among defensive backs, 2 of ASU's DBs rank in the top 3 in the conference in interceptions. Cornerbacks Chuck Allen and Jonathan Burke each have 3 interceptions on the year, and Burke has returned one for a touchdown.

This is a young, athletic, and opportunistic defense that has shown substantial improvement as the Sun Belt schedule has progressed.

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