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Sunday Morning Quarterback

Sunday Morning Quarterback

Sunday, June 04, 2006

A REASONABLY ANTICIPATORY ASSESSMENT OF: ARKANSAS STATE
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SMQ spins the wheel for a hastily-rendered but not too-soon look at a random school's prospects for the fall, sans inevitable academic and criminal suspensions, sudden transfers, debilitating injuries and other miscellaneous misfortunes of the long summer

Today:
ARKANSAS STATE
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Indians exceeding expectations, for once, but for how long?

PAST FIVE SEASONS: 22-37 (16-16 Sun Belt) - 2005: 6-6 (5-2 Sun Belt, Champions); Lost New Orleans Bowl
STARTERS BACK, ROUGHLY: 15 (6 Offense, 9 Defense)
WHAT'S CHANGED: Gone is the overwhelming bulk of 2005's 2,300 rushing yards, in the form of Shermar Bracey, quarterback Nick Noce and especially Antonio Warren, who had his second straight 1,000-yard, all-Sun Belt season. Cool leader-type Noce may be the toughest of that trio to replace after he cut his picks down, remained fairly versatile as a runner and topped 2,000 passing yards again, and as his backup, Travis Hewitt, got 14 total plays. He's competing for the job with redshirt freshman Corey Leonard, a better athlete with no career snaps.
WHAT'S THE SAME: Virtually the entire defense, which brings back nine starters, only one of whom, linebacker Devrett Wade, is a senior; only one of the two new starters, cornerback Darren Toney, is a senior, too, so they'll be bringing back nine starters again next year if all is smooth. This speaks pretty well for Jones' recruiting - a lot of the last guys he inherited are sitting behind younger guys he's brought in on the depth chart. Most prominent among those recruits is junior strong safety Tyrell Johnson, who freaked out with 25 tackles (20 solo) in the regular sesason finale against North Texas and received some preseason love for it.
IT'S NOT LIKE THEY WERE NORTH TEXAS OR ANYTHING: It's very nice the Indians won their first conference championship in a couple decades, but let's not get carried away about a league title won via a three-way, you-beat-them-they-beat-me-I-beat-you mess in a conference that had exactly zero wins against a single I-A team outside its confines. ASU, in fact, only put together one two-game win streak, 39-36 over UL-Lafayette and 3-0 over Florida Atlantic in overtime (gotta love those zero-zero regulation ties) in October, and followed it by losing to Middle Tennessee by 38 points. It also lost to Army by four touchdowns two weeks later. So we are not dealing here with an intimidating bully that leaves the rest of the league cowering in the shadow of its champion's near-competence. They suck like everyone else.
IF HE CAN GET IT OUT TO THEM ...the new quarterback will have all four receivers who hauled in double-digit catches last year back. Levi Dejohnette and Patrick Higgins lead that group, but each was the very definition of "possession receiver": 71 total catches, 3 touchdowns. The big plays came from junior-to-be Joe Smith, who had four touchdowns on 18 receptions (though all in a three-game span at midseason) and an 18-yard per catch average, five yards more than Dejohnette and Higgins.
OVERLY OPTIMISTIC POST-SPRING CHATTER: If outsiders are concerned about the spanking new backfield, folks in Jonesboro certainly don't seem to be (PDF):

But Hewitt and redshirt freshman Corey Leonard are smart, mobile and athletic, possessing the intangibles necessary to lead this team in its attempt to repeat as conference champs and head to another bowl berth.
[...]
Not since the days of the Larry Lacewell wishbone attack has such a diverse and talented group of running backs been assembled for an all-out battle in the spring for carrying-rights.


Well, except last year, right? 'Cause that was the only non-losing record (other than 6-5 in 1995) the team has had since the I-AA days under Lacewell, which is also the last time any Indian was voted an all-American. Or does talent at one position accumulate that quickly?

Also: The Senior Citizen Prom? Huge success!

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Running back Reginald Arnold and his horrified, segregationist dance partner at ASU's "Senior Prom"


REASON FOR HOPE: Experienced defense had some very good efforts last year and could be better; running game ought to be decent again
REASON TO BE AFRAID, VERY AFRAID: The same defense got tagged a couple times, too; offense will be one-dimensional without an OK quarterback, and not good enough at that dimension to go anywhere
IF THIS TEAM WERE ANY POP CULTURAL, HISTORICAL, POLITICAL, LITERARY OR OTHERWISE NOTABLE FIGURE, IT WOULD BE... SMQ after winning any game of pool or bowling (as he did Saturday with three strikes in the final four frames to bag a career-high 120, baby!): a winner, yes, among friends, but that still doesn't mean he's actually any good at it.
HONESTLY, WITHOUT LOOKING AT THE SCHEDULE, SMQ'S THINKING... A return to the four-win range. Noce and Warren were the driving forces of the offense the past two years, and weren't particularly overwhelming their own selves. As SMQ said in May, UL-Lafayette looks more like the Sun Belt's new team to beat.

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(Note: Broken links to 'Premature Assessments' have been fixed)

PREVIOUS REASONABLY ANTICIPATORY ASSESSMENTS:
June 3: Boston College

ABSURDLY PREMATURE ASSESSMENTS:
April 3: Central Michigan...April 4: BYU...April 5: Kentucky...April 7: Bowling Green...April 8: Southern Cal...April 11: Rutgers...April 12: Marshall...April 13: Florida State...April 15: San Diego State...April 16: Alabama...April 19: Oregon State...April 20: Buffalo...April 21: N.C. State...April 23: Arizona...April 24: Memphis...April 25: Louisiana Tech...April 28: Iowa...April 30: Toledo...May 2: Ohio State...May 3: Mississippi State...May 5: Southern Miss...May 7: Louisiana-Lafayette...May 11: Akron...May 12: North Carolina...Michigan State...May 15: Air Force...May 17: Stanford...May 18: Georgia Tech...May 21: Connecticut...May 23: Purdue...May 24: Navy...May 27: UCLA...May 28: New Mexico State...May 29: Tennessee

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Permalink

11:00 AM

Comments:
"...but let's not get carried away about a league title won via a three-way, you-beat-them-they-beat-me-I-beat-you mess in a conference that had exactly zero wins against a single I-A team outside its confines."

MT beat an undefeated Vanderbilt team at Vanderbilt.
 
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WELCOME...
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And don't let the name fool ya - second guessing the phenomenal athletic feats and split-second decisions of college kids under extreme physical duress is for every day of the week.


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How much football does he watch? Dude's got insights on -everybody-, and by everybody, I mean everybody. Throw in some of the best writing in the blogosphere, and we're talking about a daily must-read.
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e-mail Sunday Morning Quarterback at sundaymorningqb@yahoo.com

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PREVIOUSLY FROM SMQ:

2006 Preview
Anatomy of an Underdog
BlogPoll: 1-10/11-25/Roundtable
The ACC
The Big Ten
The Big XII
The Sun Belt

Running Departments
The Rap Sheet
July 29/Aug. 1/Aug. 9/Aug. 16/Aug.19/Aug. 25/Sept. 28/Oct. 4/Oct. 5/Oct. 18/Oct. 26/Nov. 2/Nov. 7/Nov. 8/Nov. 28/Dec. 2/Dec. 8/ Dec. 11/Dec. 18/Dec. 21/Feb. 6/Feb. 10/April 7/April 14/April 21/April 29/May 6/May 12/May 19/May 26/June 2/June 10/June 16/June 24/June 30/July 8/Aug. 4

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SMQ-APPROVED
COLLEGE FOOTBALL PAGES

News from the Big Guys
ESPN/ College Football News Wire
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FOX
CBS Sportsline
USA Today
Opinion: Columnists and bloggers
Around the Oval (Ohio State)
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The Blue-Gray Sky (Notre Dame)
Block U (Utah)
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Bruins Nation (UCLA)
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The Corporate Headquarters of the San Antonio Gunslingers
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ESPN: Ivan Maisel/Pat Forde
Every Day Should Be Saturday (Florida)
FOX: Pete Fiutak
Golden Tornado (Georgia Tech)
Heisman Pundit
I'm a Realist (Georgia)
Journalism is for Rock Stars (Alabama)
Mark May Be Wrong
MDG CFB (Fresno State)
Mountain Lair (West Virginia)
MGOBlog (Michigan)
Orange::44 (Syracuse)
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Paul Westerdawg (Georgia)
Pitch Right (Navy)
Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer (Alabammer)
Section Six
Sexy Results (Virginia)
SI: Stewart Mandel/John Walters
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Texas A&M and Baseball, In No Particular Order (Texas A&M)
The 614 (Ohio State)
The House That Rock Built (Notre Dame)
The Sporting Gnomes (Clemson)
Tiger Pundit (Clemson)
We Must Ignite This Couch (West Virginia)
The Wizard of Odds

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The Blog Poll

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WANNA DO SOME RESEARCH? NERD! HERE'S SOME QUICK REFERENCES:

College Football Data Warehouse
College Football Research Center
College Football News
cfbstats.com
Football Commentary
THE STANDINGS
THE POLLS

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
Rushing
Passing
Receiving
All-Purpose
Scoring
Tackles
Sacks
Interceptions
Tackles For Loss
Field Goals
Punting
Kickoff Returns
Punt Returns
TEAM STATISTICS
Rushing Offense
Passing Offense
Total Offense
Scoring Offense
Rushing Defense
Passing Defense
Total Defense
Scoring Defense
Turnover Margin

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Past Seasons
2005
Thursday Morning Quarterback
Sept. 29/Oct. 6/Oct. 20/Oct. 27/Nov. 3/Nov. 10/Nov. 17/Nov. 24/Dec. 1
Sunday Morning Quarterback
Oct. 2/Oct. 23/Oct. 30/Nov. 6/Nov. 13/Nov. 27
Stat Relevance Watch
Part One/Part Two/Part Three
SMQ Bowl Blitz
New Orleans/GMAC/Las Vegas/Poinsettia/Motor City

SMQ's [Hurricane-Abbreviated] 2005 Preview
Top 25 Countdown/Methodology
All-America Team
ACC
BIG EAST
BIG TEN
BIG XII