Jeremy Harper, the Arkansas State correspondent for Underdog Dynasty, sat down and answered some questions for Conquest Chronicles regarding Arkansas State.
1) Arkansas State had a winning record for the fourth straight season last year (a school record), how was then first-year head coach Blake Anderson so successful?
It was a classic case of "right man at the right time for the job." Coach Anderson doesn’t bring ego to the locker room. He saw what strengths the former regimes brought to the table and worked with those elements. A string of injuries is the only thing that prevented Coach Anderson from seeing his predecessors’ level of success.
2) Fredi Knighten broke several school records last year, what made him so effective and how could he become better?
Dual-threat quarterbacks aren’t uncommon at A-State, but Fredi Knighten is the first quarterback in memory with first-class wheels. He was second on the team in rushing with 779 yards. Coach Anderson and OC Walt Bell use Fredi’s versatility well, but I think much of Knighten’s success comes from his win-at-all-costs mentality. He wants to be great.
3) The defense last year was average at best but lost several key starters in the offseason. Who will lead the Red Wolves on defense and what newcomers will play a factor?
The defensive line provided a lot of career days for opposing running backs last year. This year, the Red Wolves are vastly improved. Coming out of the "bandit" position, Chris Stone is the soul of Joe Cauthen’s defense. But look out for DE Ja'Von Rolland-Jones, who is a legitimate sack monster when healthy. Coach Anderson also beefed up the line with JUCO transfers Waylon Roberson (338 lbs) and Jake Swalley (292 lbs), who are both projected to start. UAB transfer Robert Mondie (321 lbs) is also listed on the 2-deep.
4) Dual-threat quarterbacks have given USC defenses problems over the year, what does Knighten and the Red Wolves have to do to pull off the upset?
The stock answer is "If Knighten can limit mistakes and create some big plays, the Red Wolves could keep this game close enough for an upset." But what Knighten really needs to do is believe in his talents and "play unpredictable." And that means picking apart USC’s deep defense by utilizing all his weapons, for which Knighten has many.
5) Game prediction?
A-State 75, USC 0.
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