Arkansas State Preview

Who: #13 Virginia Tech Hokies (2-0, 0-0 ACC) vs Arkansas State Red Wolves (1-1, 0-0 Sun Belt)

Time: 4:08 PM

TV Coverage: Regional Sports Network (Mike Hogewood, John Bunting, Sammy Linebaugh)

Venue: Lane Stadium, Blacksburg, VA (66,233 — Grass)

Series History: Virginia Tech leads 3-0

  • Last Meeting (2002): Virginia Tech 63, Arkansas State 7
  • Tech has outscored A-State 147-14 in three games between the squads.
  • This is the first meeting between the two schools with Arkansas State being the Red Wolves. They were the Indians until 2008.

Injury Report

  • OL David Wang – Out (foot)
  • TE Eric Martin – Probable (shoulder)

The Opponent

Arkansas State enters Saturday's contest coming off a 47-3 thumping of Memphis last weekend after falling 33-15 in the season opener at Illinois. The Red Wolves are under the direction of first year head coach Hugh Freeze, who was A-State's offensive coordinator last year. Freeze has just two years of head coaching experience, both at NAIA Lambuth University.

This team is senior-laden, with 15 senior starters speckling the roster. However, that stat is a bit deceiving as a majority of ASU's roster is juniors and seniors that have transferred from junior colleges.

On Offense

For the third straight week, Tech faces a variation of the spread offense. Quarterback Ryan Aplin (6-1, 205, JR) is a good one. Last year he was first team All-Sun Belt and so far this year, he's completed nearly 75 percent of his passes for 564 yards, good for a top 20 ranking in the nation. Last week, he was a nearly flawless 19-for-21 against Memphis.

Despite the spread scheme, A-State will attempt to run the ball a good amount against the Hokies. Frankie Jackson (5-9, 185, FR) has received the bulk of the carries so far, averaging a hair under seven yards per touch on 21 attempts. Sirgregory Thornton (5-11, 190, SO) is the Red Wolves' second leading rusher in terms of yardage, but has just eight carries.

The real weapons for A-State are their wide receivers. Josh Jarboe (6-3, 215, JR) was once ranked the #13 recruit in the nation by ESPN in 2008 and originally committed to Oklahoma. After being dismissed there and then again at Troy, he went to junior college before transferring to Arkansas State. So far this year, Jarboe has 12 catches for 220 yards and 2 TD's. Dwayne Frampton (5-9, 180, SR) is an elusive complement to Jarboe who ranks second on the team with 174 yards. Aplin likes to share the wealth, though, as 14 different players have caught at least one pass so far this year.

Up front, Arkansas State starts three seniors, but that's a tad deceiving. Aside from center Tom Castilaw (6-3, 280, SR), who is on the Rimington Award Watch List, the Red Wolves have a mixture of career backups and JUCO transfers. In their first two games, they've given up five sacks, including three last week against Memphis.

On Defense

As opposed to the first two weeks of the season, Tech will finally face a 4-3 scheme from Arkansas State. This unit features 10 senior starters, and seven upperclassmen backups.

On the D-line, Arkansas State starts four seniors, including tackle Dorvus Woods (6-3, 265, SR), who is one of the best defensive lineman in the Sun Belt. Overall, the Red Wolves have 18 tackles for loss so far this season, including eight sacks. Defensive end Brandon Joiner (6-5, 255, SR) has three for loss and two sacks so far.

As is the trend on defense, A State has experience and depth at linebacker. Demario Davis (6-3, 230, SR) was a first team All-Sun Belt player last year, while his backup, Nathan Herold (6-3, 235, JR), started nine games last year.

Of the four senior starters in the secondary, three are JUCO transfers. Darron Edwards (5-11, 175, JR) is the most experienced, starting every game last year at cornerback, teamed with Darryl Feemster (5-11, 185, SR). At strong safety, Kelcie McCray (6-2, 195, SR) is the only non-JUCO transfer and was a preseason All-Sun Belt selection in numerous publications.

Despite a senior-laden squad, this is still a unit that ranked dead last in defense in the Sun Belt last year and gave up nearly 500 yards to Illinois in their season opener.

Players to Watch:

Virginia Tech

  • QB #3 Logan Thomas
  • RB #4 David Wilson
  • CB #9 Cris Hill
  • DE #42 J.R. Collins

Arkansas State

  • QB #16 Ryan Aplin
  • WR #3 Josh Jarboe
  • DT #92 Jorvus Woods
  • OLB #23 Demario Davis

Matchups to Watch

Virginia Tech Running Backs vs Arkansas State Front 7

Last week, Tech escaped ECU thanks to getting back to their roots of power football. This Arkansas State front is not as athletic as ECU's and Tech will more than likely try to wear down the Red Wolves early on. Arkansas State will counter by overloading the box and attempting to stop the run, which leads me to my next point...

Logan Thomas vs Himself

Sure, everyone has been saying Logan Thomas is better than his stats indicate, but what if ECU doesn't drop three interceptions, two of which could have been pick-6's? Thomas needs to find confidence and grow into his role as leader of this team. He's done so in the huddle and off the field and that now needs to translate into better decisions passing.

Ryan Aplin vs Virginia Tech Secondary

Aplin is a solid quarterback who illustrated pinpoint accuracy last week. Just like any spread offense, if he can get going early, his confidence will skyrocket. The secondary was dominant against the air raid last week and will have to counter a wide variety of sets from the Red Wolves this week.

Arkansas State O-Line vs Virginia Tech D-Line

As said in the preview of their offense, the A-State is experienced in age, but not in game time. Tech should be able to take advantage of the Red Wolves weakness up front and snuff out the ASU running game. Arkansas State will attempt to create a balanced attack and stopping either the run or pass will be key.

Projected Score: Virginia Tech 38, Arkansas State 14

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Comments

Sirgregory Thornton

Most online sports books have us at or around a 24 point favorite. I think we'll win, but I don't think we'll cover, something to the tune of 30-10. The defense should be able to contain their offense, bend but not break, and the offense will air out the football.

hahahah

I spit my drink out when you tweeted this yesterday. Please someone make this into a gameday sign.

44-10

I think we break this bitch open early and don't look back. Good preview, bruddah. Arky St was I-AA last time we played right?

are you saying.

5 touchdowns and 3 field goals.

OR

6 touchdowns and a safety.

OR

12 field goals, 1 touchdown and a 2-point conversion.

OR

12 field goals, 1 touchdown, missed extra point, and a safety.

OR

something different altogether.

Hmmm

12 field goals, 1 touchdown, missed extra point, and a safety.

This seems most likely.

I disagree

22 safeties is most likely. Dominant D

I agree*

I take that back. It will be hard to get them in potential safety situations with 35 yard punts. You were right.

Im going conservative

Like O'cains play calls thus far.

35-13. I think we'll carry the ball at least 35 times against their D. LT throws it under 20.

I like it, don't love it

I think the occasional designed LT3 runs can definitely be a big part of the offense but it seemed like that was every 3rd down attempt vs. ECU. I'm glad he picked them up but I'd just like to see a little more variety.

For Six

I'm feeling a Jayron pick6 this weekend

Beamer Ball

I think there's a real good chance we house a kickoff. Memphis didn't have the talent to break one, but Arkansas State was very undisciplined with their special teams, lots of arm tackles and players getting out of their lanes.

I can definitely see that too.. but i would rather save that for the Clemson game. I have a feeling it be more meaningful that way. I am anxious to see how Clemson fares this weekend.

Is it just me, or does it feel really strange NOT playing in a huge season-defying game early in the season. Feels like something is missing. (Oh, maybe that something is a 1 in the L column) but it still feels weird.

It does feel weird. I wish we were playing a quality OOC opponent or two, not a top 5 team, but somebody like WVU, Penn State, or Tennessee. Actually, these are all teams that could potential big time rivals if we scheduled them consistently. WVU rivalry is currently dead :( or at least in a coma.

2012

Next year's schedule is much more desirable to me*: at Pitt, Bowling Green, Cincinnati, and what I'd assume to be a mystery, to be named later, I-AA opponent. Pitt's a program we struggled against while we were in the Big East, but the Wanstache era didn't take them to the next level like Beamer did after we moved to the ACC. Cincy at FedEx, Brian Kelly isn't there anymore, and even if he was I wouldn't worry about them. MACtion.

Point being, this is a winnable non-conference schedule, again we should be favored in every game, but it's more challenging, and exciting than what we're facing this year. I know Weaver wants one BCS, two non-BCS and a I-AA team on the schedule every year, but I'd like to substitute one of the non-BCS teams for a middle-tier BCS school. There's always going to be more of a buzz, and a better game that way.

*It's noted that this schedule is perfect for LT3's first year as a starter.

BEAMERBALL PREDICTION

I'm thinking Hosley for a punt return

2012

Definitely will be an exciting slate of games next year... I may eat crow once Alabama and Ohio State are on the Schedule.