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.
- OL David Wang – Out (foot)
- TE Eric Martin – Probable (shoulder)
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.
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.
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:
- QB #3 Logan Thomas
- RB #4 David Wilson
- CB #9 Cris Hill
- DE #42 J.R. Collins
- 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