Arkansas State Red Wolves Preview 2022: Season Prediction, Breakdown, Key Games, Players

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Arkansas State Red Wolves Preview 2022: Previewing, predicting, and looking ahead to the Arkansas State season with what you need to know and keys to the season.

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Arkansas State Red Wolves Preview
Head Coach: Butch Jones, 2nd year at ASU, 2-10
13th year overall, 86-64, 2021 Preview
2021 Record: Overall: 2-10, Conference: 1-7
Keys To The Season | Season Prediction, What Will Happen
Arkansas State Top 10 Players | Arkansas State Schedule

Arkansas State Red Wolves Preview 2022

It’s been a rough run for a program used to playing for big things in the Sun Belt.

While others like Louisiana, Appalachian State, and Coastal Carolina have become the stars of the conference, and with other good new parts coming into the league, Arkansas State has sputtered and struggled over the last two seasons with no defense, not enough of an offense to keep up, and without and semblance of a break.

Butch Jones is a solid head coach. Things might not have gone perfectly at Tennessee, but he’s got the chops to use 2021 as a rebuilding season and turn this year into a big step forward.

First, getting more out of the defense would be nice. More on that in a moment.

Arkansas State Red Wolves Preview 2022: Offense

The Red Wolves have the passing attack. Part of the reason they were on top of the Sun Belt in passing was out of necessity. They had to keep throwing to try keeping up the pace, but they also had the parts.

The O averaged close to 400 yards and 25 points per game, but the ground game wasn’t good enough and the offensive line gave up way too many sacks. The passing attack really was strong, but …

Losing top wide receiver Corey Rucker to South Carolina hurts, but 6-1, 208-pound Te’Vailiance Hunt and deep threat Jeff Foreman are decent veterans to start with. This was a very, very, young group, and now there’s decent depth to keep rotating into the mix.

Former Florida State starter James Blackman was terrific at times over the first half of the year before getting knocked out for the season with a shoulder injury. Layne Hatcher stepped in and kept bombing away, but with Blackman back he’s gone to Texas State. The Red Wolves will keep throwing, but …

Again, the ground attack has to be better. That starts with needing more from a line that had a mix or different parts last year but now will go younger, a slew of new guys will be in the mix, and … it might take a little bit to come together after a rough spring. It’s not a massive line outside of 340-pound tackle Robert Holmes, but this group should be able to move.

Not the backs need more work. Arkansas State only ran 349 times last year for 989 yards and four scores. Averaging under three yards per carry, the backs had nowhere to go. Smallish speedster Lincoln Pare led the way with 455 yards and a score, but now he’s in the transfer portal.

Arkansas State Red Wolves Preview 2022: Defense

Not everything was awful about the Arkansas State defense. Yeah, it was last in the nation against the run, and yeah, it was the second-worst in college football overall, and it allowed 506 yards and 39 points per game, but …

There was pressure. Not enough of it, but former Tennessee transfer Kivon Bennett generated eight sacks and 16.5 tackles for loss from one defensive end spot, and fellow former Volunteer John Mincey is a veteran to start with on the inside. Now this group has to hold up a wee bit against the run, even with a slew of new guys in the rotation.

The linebacking corps isn’t big, but it can move. The plays behind the line mostly came from the line, but 6-1, 216-pound junior Jaden Harris and 5-10, 180-pound Melique Straker have the quickness to do more.

Teams were so busy running on ASU that the secondary caught a bit of a break. This group should take a bit to come together, especially at safety. The corners will be fine in time, but losing second-leading tackler Jarius Reimonenq to James Madison stings.

Keys To The Season | Season Prediction, What Will Happen
Arkansas State Top 10 Players | Arkansas State Schedule

Arkansas State Red Wolves: Keys To The Season, Top Game, Top Transfer, Fun Stats NEXT

Arkansas State Red Wolves: Keys To The Season, Top Game, Top Transfer, Fun Stats

Arkansas State Red Wolves: Key To The 2022 Offense

Come up with some semblance of a running game

The best parts of the offense are in the passing game, but the Red Wolves have to figure out the right starting five up front and get the running backs something to do.

There were a few moments – ASU started the season with 194 yards against Central Arkansas and finished with 194 against Texas State. In between there was only one 100-yard day – the stunning close loss to Louisiana – making it 27 games since the team hit the 200-yard mark.

And on the flip side …

Arkansas State Red Wolves: Key To The 2022 Defense

Stop someone from running the ball

The 2020 team wasn’t all that great, but at least the run defense wasn’t horrible. There were moments when it got torched, but overall it allowed fewer than four yards per carry.

Almost everyone got fat on the Arkansas State defensive front that gave up 6.4 yards per carry and allowed 200 yards or more in nine of the last 11 games. There were plays in the backfield, but once teams got their offensive lines in a lather, bad things happened.

And that’s why …

Arkansas State Red Wolves: Key Player To The 2022 Season

DT John Mincey, Sr.
He was never able to get going in his three years at Tennessee, and after following Butch Jones to Arkansas State he made 21 tackles last season with five tackles for loss.

The 6-4, 290-pounder only saw time in nine games, but whenever he was on the field he had his moments. He’s not going to be an anchor, but the Red Wolves need someone to hold up inside.

Arkansas State Red Wolves: Key Transfer

LB King Mwikuta, Jr.
A great hybrid pass rusher recruit for Alabama, the 6-5, 240-pounder had injury issues and was never able to do a whole lot more than contribute on special teams. He only made six tackles in his three years, but now he’ll get every shot with the Red Wolves to find a role somewhere in the linebacking corps.

Arkansas State Key Game To The 2022 Season

ULM, Oct. 1
Arkansas State needs work. Even so, it should be able to beat Grambling State, it’ll collect a paycheck to get walloped by Ohio State, and it’ll have problems with Memphis. The trip to Old Dominion might be a 50/50 game, but that’s it for the tune-ups.

This year is about improving in the Sun Belt, and getting ULM and James Madison at home to start the conference slate is the break it needs. If this is going to be any sort of a turnaround season, the Red Wolves can’t drop the ULM game.

That was the only victory against an FBS team last year.

Arkansas State Red Wolves: 2021 Fun Stats

– 1st Quarter Scoring: Opponents 117 – Arkansas State 47
– 4th Down Conversions: Opponents 11-of-13 (42%) – Arkansas State 5-of-17 (29%)
– Rushing TDs: Opponents 32 – Arkansas State 4

O, D Breakdown |Season Prediction, What Will Happen
Arkansas State Top 10 Players | Arkansas State Schedule

Arkansas State Red Wolves Season Prediction, What Will Happen NEXT

Arkansas State Red Wolves Season Prediction, What Will Happen

The program is too good, has too good a recent history, and has too good a coaching staff to be so bad for a third year in a row.

But does Butch Jones have the guys up front on both sides of the ball?

The lines have been the killer – the defensive front has been a stunning disappointment for most of the last three seasons considering how good it used to be at getting to the quarterback – and that’s probably not going to change too much this season.

The running game has to be better, the run defense has to be better, the turnovers have to slow down, and …

Set The Arkansas State Red Wolves Regular Season Win Total At … 5.5

The transfer portal has been rough on the Red Wolves, and there’s a whole lot of turnover from the 2021 team, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Okay, so it is a bad thing to lose 12 potential key players in the transfer portal – and counting. However, as long as the starting 22 can stay relatively healthy, there’s a shot at a winning season.

Really.

Grambling State, at Old Dominion, ULM, James Madison, at Southern Miss, South Alabama, UMass, at Texas State, Troy. Anything can happen – ASU almost got Louisiana last year – but forget about the rest of the slate for now. If there’s any improvement on the lines, winning five of those nine games isn’t asking for the world.

It’s not going to be a Sun Belt championship season, but it’ll be a step in the right direction.

Offense, Defense Breakdown | Keys To The Season
Top 10 Players | Arkansas State Schedule

2022 College Football Schedules: All 131 Teams