It’s Another Miserable Groundhogs Day For The Arkansas State Red Wolves
History is doomed to to repeat itself. And it doomed the Red Wolves on Saturday.
It felt so familiar. The undefeated Red Wolves, on the heels of an unexpected Mountaineers loss, took to the road to face a struggling conference foe with the team’s path to the Sun Belt Championship completely in its own hairy paws. The only difference was the opponent.
Last year, it was Louisiana. This year, South Alabama. Both outcomes came down to a fumbled play on the goal line. Both resulted in stunning losses for Arkansas State. Both have fans staring blankly into space.
The Red Wolves, never really students of history anyway, entered Ladd-Peebles not like a program on a mission, but like a team coming of a bye week – sloppy and sleepy. The defense could make up for rust with its athleticism, but the precision of the offense was clearly off. QB Justice Hansen bounced two passes off receivers that took fortuitous caroms into Jaguar hands, and both turnovers led to early scores for South Alabama.
Arkansas State never recovered, despite receiving numerous gifts from the Jaguars’ own sloppy play. The Red Wolves committed six turnovers, none more disheartening than the last – a Hansen fumble at the Jags’ goal line with 5 minutes left on the clock. Just like last year’s game against the Cajuns, the TD would have put the Red Wolves ahead, likely for good. Instead, Blake Anderson and his team were forced to watch another home team celebrate an upset victory.
How can we console ourselves in these times of trouble?
Blake Anderson took responsibility for Saturday’s performance, but there’s plenty of fingers to point. The Jaguars entered the game with only three picks, and finished the evening with a new total of seven. The defense recorded three sacks in the first half, but Cole Garvin and the Jags’ adjusted with a game plan of quick passes that kept the QB clean for the rest of the game. The Red Wolves committed the usual number of momentum-killing penalties and, of course, the usual hot-headed personal fouls.
Give a straight shot at the Sun Belt title, the Red Wolves were simply not up for taking it.
Last year, the Red Wolves rebounded from its loss to Louisiana with a 36-14 punishing of Texas State to claim a share of the title with Appalachian State. This season, there is a bit more meat left on the plate, with three games remaining. Can the Red Wolves recover to make make one last run?
Only if the Red Wolves can re-learn the lesson.
Good and Bad Notes
- It was nice to see young Jonathan Adams get involved with kick returns. His 55-yard kick return was a glimpse into the future.
- Justice Hansen was the team’s leading rusher again (37 yards on 18 attempts), and that’s troubling. Warren Wand, returning from injury, only received 7 attempts and gained 21 yards.
- The Jaguars finished the night with -3 rushing yards. That’s not a typo.
- The Arkansas State loss bring parity back to the Sun Belt title race, with Troy, Appalachian State and Georgia State all sitting at one-loss apiece. That’s kind of exciting, 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.