July 10, 2007

Opponent preview: Arkansas State

The Texas Longhorns open the 2007 football season on September 1 at home against the Arkansas State Indians. Don't confuse the late addition to the schedule with Division I-AA Sam Houston State, which the Horns defeated 56-3. The Indians are picked to finish second in the Sun Belt Conference by Street & Smith's and Athlon Sports.

LAST YEAR

Head coach Steve Roberts led Arkansas State to a 6-6 record (3-5 away from Jonesboro) in his fifth year at the helm. The Indians displayed an efficient offense with 279 rushing yards in a win over North Texas and 219 yards through the air in a win over Memphis. Their defense defeated Army by allowing only 164 total yards of offense.

Arkansas State appeared less than stellar in losses to Oklahoma State, Southern Methodist and Auburn. The Indian offense could muster only 78 yards passing against the Cowboys and 69 yards on the ground against the Mustangs. SMU earned 226 rushing yards while Auburn's Brandon Cox threw for 251 yards and two touchdowns.

OFFENSE
Starters Returning: 6
Coordinator: Doug Ruse

Five of Arkansas State's six returning starters were named to preseason All-Sun Belt teams from a run-first offense that averaged 15.2 points, 167.7 rushing yards and 144.6 passing yards. Looking to improve on those numbers will be two sophomores: quarterback Corey Leonard and running back Reggie Arnold. Leonard threw for 1,321 yards, eight touchdowns and eight interceptions. Arnold was a freshman All-American and second team All-Sun Belt selection after rushing for 1,076 yards and four touchdowns.

As the only returning starters on an offensive line that allowed 37.5 sacks in 2006, Matt Mandich and Matt Reibe will have their hands full blocking for Leonard and Arnold. It doesn't help that fullback Oren O'Neal was drafted by the Oakland Raiders. Wide receiver Levi Dejohnette and tight end David Johnson return as two of Leonard's favorite targets.

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