Penetrating Bullet Points: Arkansas State’s “Fan Day” Scrimmage
The Arkansas State Red Wolves held its Fan Day Scrimmage and it was really scrimmage-y, y’all.
You never know what you’re going to learn at an Arkansas State scrimmage. It might be something you want to know, like maybe the inexperienced offensive line looks pretty good. Or it could be something you don’t want to know at all. For example, I learned that the guy behind me had trouble with his colon.
“Can’t eat corn!” he announced. “Won’t digest!”
I felt pretty bad for that guy. So many good foods are made with corn. Luckily, the Red Wolves scrimmage brought more good news than bad. Allow me to to elaborate:
- The kicking game looks vastly improved. Sawyer Williams and newcomer Blake Grupe nailed field goals with plenty to spare, and punter Cody Grace magically booted punts that stuck like yard darts on the five yard line. Amusingly, the majority of the fans’ applause was directed at the kicking personnel.
- TE Blake Mack hauled in a couple TDs, and he looked both fast and imposing while doing it. Mack delivered a fine season in 2016. He looks determined to dominate in 2017.
- As far as I could tell, QB Justice Hansen is till the starter, making plays Saturday night with both his arm and his legs. However, a few of his passes were a little under-cooked. Logan Bonner, the undisputed backup, also did well, tossing several TDs However, Bonner did throw a sloppy INT after letting the ball slip from his hand. (Redshirt) Freshman mistake.
- Blake Anderson on the play of Hansen and Bonner: “Both of those guys have been doing well. Both are prepared to play. We may very well play both of them. If the first game were tomorrow we probably would.”
- When Hansen and Bonner were under center, the offense played with impressive pace and efficiency, often putting the Red Wolves’ physical defense on their heels. Last season, the offense never seemed to keep up with rapid-fire play-calling. Is this the result of Anderson’s guiding hand at play-calling?
- RB Warren Wand, the Human Mario Kart, is ready roll over opposing defenses. The 5’5″ Wand looked fast and tough all scrimmage long, mostly running right up the middle to deliver yards and punishment.
- RB Armond Weh-Weh, injured for the majority of 2016, saw limited action, but caught a nifty TD pass on a miss-direction play. Coach Anderson said Weh-Weh was still “about a week” from being healthy.
- Freshman wide receiver and local hero Johnathan Adams looked incredible, snagging a TD pass from back-up QB Blake Devers (who looked good himself). Coach Anderson had nothing but praise for Adams during post-scrimmage interviews.
- Michael Johnson, the JUCO safety transfer and (deep breath) Southern California Football Association National Division Central, Defensive Player of the Year, seems to have already acclimated to Joe Cauthen’s defense. He added a solid scrimmage performance to what has already been an eyebrow-raising camp.
- Massive defensive lineman Dee Liner was a DNP Saturday night. He restlessly prowled the sidelines sans shoulder pads. One gets the feeling that he’d be just as punishing playing without them.
Last year’s Fan Day Scrimmage was a bit of a circus with defensive lineman catching punts and wide receivers snagging passes behind their backs. This year, the scrimmage was all business, with the focus entirely on fundamentals. Coach Anderson isn’t messing around in 2017.
As far as predicting team performance heading into Arkansas State’s opener with Nebraska, I can say with confidence that all aspects of kicking should be much improved, that the quarterbacks look ready no matter who starts, and that Warren Wand and Blake Mack seem geared for career-best seasons.