JONESBORO – The Arkansas State football team held its 10th spring practice Friday night under the Liberty Bank Stadium lights, running approximately 85 plays in a full-contact scrimmage that was open to the public.
The scrimmage, A-State’s second this spring, was not only open to the public, but also an invitation for all area high school coaches, players and spirit squads to attend and display school pride by wearing their respective school colors. ASU head coach Bryan Harsin said he was pleased with the scrimmage that featured positive plays on both sides of the ball.
“We accomplished what we wanted tonight based on the situations we were trying to present our players with,” said Harsin. “We were able to work the red zone, situations where the offense is backed up at its own goal line, open-field scenarios and also some special teams, so I liked the structure of it. I thought the energy was good before and throughout the scrimmage, and I thought we finished well.”
The offense finished with 452 total yards and was responsible for four rushing touchdowns and two passing scores, highlighted by runs covering 53 and 67 yards by sophomore quarterback Fredi Knighten and sophomore running back Michael Gordon, respectively.
Senior running back David Oku and redshirt freshman Kendrick Daniels also found the end zone on one-yard runs, while Knighten and sophomore quarterback Stephen Hogan each had a touchdown pass. Knighten found junior receiver Tres Houston for a 12-yard score on one play, and Hogan’s touchdown pass went for 10 yards to senior wideout Julian Jones.
Knighten finished with a team-high 79 rushing yards and was followed by Gordon with 75, but nine different players posted at least one rushing attempt. Hogan led the passing attack, completing 12 passes for 75 yards. Fellow quarterbacks Phillip Butterfield, Chandler Rogers and Knighten all saw action and completed multiple passing attempts.
Jones hauled in a team-high five receptions and senior wideout Allen Muse ended the night with a team-best 36 receiving yards. Thirteen different players recorded at least one reception as well.
The Red Wolves’ defense was responsible for two turnovers, nine tackles for loss, three sacks and seven pass break-ups. A pair of sophomore defensive backs came up with the turnovers, an interception by Rocky Hayes and a fumble recovery by Charleston Girley.
Sophomore linebacker Brian Davis recorded a team-high eight tackles and senior linebacker LaAngelo Albright posted seven, but 32 total players tallied at least one stop. Anderson, Albright, Dexter Blackmon and Amos Draper combined for the three sacks, while 10 players posted at least a partial tackle for loss.
“There were some plays being made on both sides of the ball,” said Harsin. “The defense created a couple of turnovers, had some good red zone stops and forced some three-and-outs, and there were some explosive plays and scores on the offensive side. You also saw a good balance in there with some good throws, runs and stops in key situations. So, there were a lot of things you want to see, and now our coaches will go back and analyze their positions and we’ll figure out what the next step is.”
A-State won’t be back on the field until Monday and will then practice again Wednesday and Friday before holding its annual spring game Saturday, April 13, at 1 p.m.
“We’ve got three practices next week before our spring game, and those are going to be very valuable to us,” said Harsin. “We’ve got to make corrections from the scrimmage to clean up our techniques and mental mistakes. We’ll find drills to help correct those as coaches as well, so it’s a process for everyone to just keep improving. That’s the bottom line — we want to be better next week than we were this week, and that is our goal.”