Sun Belt Showdown: UAPB Golden Lions vs Arkansas State Red Wolves
Hurricane Irma sunk the the Red Wolves’ week 2 home game with Miami, leaving the team and the fans hungry for the Golden Lions’ hide. But are the Lions leading the Wolves to a upset slaughter?
Wolves and Lions, Friday, September 16th, 6PM on ESPN2
In state game are all the rage in Arkansas. (And by rage, we mean fury.) University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff is the second in-state FCS program to visit Jonesboro in two years, and it’s the first Lions’ visit since 2013, when the Bryan Harsin version of the Red Wolves rolled in a 62-11 smackdown. Will we see another Arkansas State rolling on Saturday? Or will the ghost of last year’s FCS upset by Central Arkansas continue to haunt Blake Anderson?
Red Wolves won’t go easy on UAPB
Generally, a game with a struggling FCS opponent like UAPB calls for a limited play book and plenty of PT for the second and third team. Maybe not so much on Saturday, when the Red Wolves will be looking to exorcise the specter of last year’s 28-23 upset to Central Arkansas. This year, Coach Anderson is calling the plays, and the team used the unexpected bye week to sharpen fundamentals. Sorry, UAPB. Captain’s gotta teach stuff!
Who’s the alpha for the Lions?
Junior RB KeShawn Williams (5-10 192) tore it up in a 23-10 win over the Morehouse Tigers, dropping 125 yards and a TD on 16 carries. But in week 2 against Akron, Williams carried the ball 13 times and managed only 8 yards. Uh-oh.
What kind of game can we expect?
UAPB’s performance against the Zips gives us a pretty good idea what’s likely to go down in Jonesboro. The Lions defensive line brought zero pressure to the QB, held to no sacks and only 1.5 TFLs. Lions’ senior quarterback Brandon Duncan (6-3 210) was 12/13 for 105 yards and a pair of picks. Williams, as we mentioned early, was completely neutralized. There doesn’t seem to be a strength in the Pride.
Meanwhile, the Red Wolves are well rested and mostly healthy. Home crowd jitters and a little rust might provide some moments for the Golden Lions. But look for RB Warren Wand have his way with a Lions front line that gave up 267 grounds yards to the Zips. QB Justice Hansen was reportedly banged up after a bruising loss to Nebraska in Week 1. Maybe well see some of freshman QB Logan Bonner (6-1 224) before the second half ends.
The Final Word
Last year’s FCS opponent, UCA, was a very good program with athletic receivers and surprising stamina. Historically, UAPB has had success, but this year they’re coming off a 1-9 season and their prospects don’t look much better in 2017. Early odds have the Red Wolves winning by more than 50 points. That sounds about right.
A former notary public, Jeremy Harper is a professional writer and Chief Instigator for Storm the Castle Creative. He spends much of his free time staring blankly into space.