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May 30, 2010

Inside Slant: Arkansas State Red Wolves Team Report

Arkansas State will go into fall camp without having named a No. 1 quarterback and probably won't designate a starter until about 10 days before the Sept. 4 opener at Auburn.

But coach Steve Roberts is confident that when the time comes sophomore Ryan Aplin and redshirt freshman Phillip Butterfield will be up to the job.

Aplin started three games last year but couldn't throw in the spring because of a shoulder injury. Butterfield is a redshirt freshman who took advantage of the extra reps to learn the no-huddle, spread offense installed by new coordinator Hugh Freeze.

"Obviously, both will be works in progress," Roberts said.

The Red Wolves, who fell to a disappointing 4-8 last season after being picked to finish second in the Sun Belt Conference, also are looking at a new running back to replace Reggie Arnold, who topped the 1,000-yard mark rushing in his first three seasons before settling for 723 last year.

Junior Derek Lawson (949 yards rushing in two years) is the heir apparent, but junior Jermaine Robertson had an impressive spring and will push Lawson.

"I think Jermaine had a tremendous spring," Roberts said.

Defensively, the big loss is end Alex Carrington, a third-round NFL draft pick (Buffalo Bills).

NOTES, QUOTES

• Sophomore WR Andre Smith, a quarterback coming out of high school in Killeen, Texas, before moving to wideout, took some snaps at quarterback during the spring as well. Coach Steve Roberts said Smith "is going to figure into our plans with some things as a quarterback next year."

Adam Federle was named defensive line coach to replace Kevin Peoples, who is joining Bobby Petrino's staff at Arkansas as Director of High School Relations. Federle, a graduate assistant under coach Steve Roberts at Arkansas State from 2006-08, spent last season coaching defensive tackles at Central Arkansas.

Spring Movers:

QB Phillip Butterfield-With Ryan Aplin limited in the spring while recovering from shoulder surgery, Butterfield took advantage of the extra reps under new coordinator Hugh Freeze to learn the new offense. A redshirt freshman, Butterfield will push Aplin, who had three starts as a redshirt freshman in 2009, when fall camp opens.

RB Jermaine Robertson-A junior who had only 11 carries for 51 yards in 2009, Robertson added some muscle and weight over the offseason and at 5-11, 230, looks to give the Red Wolves a strong inside runner. He and junior Derek Lawson are competing for the spot vacated by the departure of Reggie Arnold.

DE Timothy Starson-Starson, a sophomore who played in nine games in 2009, started the spring No. 2 on the depth chart but could play his way into a starting role in the fall. ASU is looking for two new starters at end with the departures of Alex Carrington and Stanley Wakwe.

WR Dwayne Frampton-A junior college transfer out of Los Angeles Harbor College, Frampton enrolled early to take part in the spring and looks to take over a starting job in the fall.

Quote To Note: "We had 22 surgeries during the season last year, and a number of those guys we are counting on playing pivotal roles and starting for our football team next season that weren't able to go through spring."-Coach Steve Roberts, on the concerns about injuries among the Red Wolves.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

2010 Outlook: Arkansas State was a disappointing 4-8 overall and 3-5 in the Sun Belt but the Red Wolves have a chance to improve if they avoid the kind of slow start they got off to last year, when they lost four in a row after winning their opener. The early schedule gets friendlier after the Sept. 4 date at Auburn, but the Wolves have only five home games on their card.

Scouting The Offense: New coordinator Hugh Freeze installed a no-huddle, spread attack in the spring, allowing redshirt freshman Phillip Butterfield to gain an edge over returning sophomore Ryan Aplin (77-of-118 passing last year) at quarterback. Aplin was limited to non-throwing drills because of a shoulder injury. They will compete for the starting job when fall camp opens. The Wolves also must replace RB Reggie Arnold and WR Brandon Thompkins, their top rusher and receiver, respectively, but four players with starting experience return to the interior line.

Scouting The Defense: DE Alex Carrington (nine sacks) departs, but the top four tacklers-LB Demario Davis (80 stops, three sacks), FS M.D. Jennings (64), SS Kelcie McCray (58), and LB Javon McKinnon (53 in nine games)-all return. McCray led the Wolves in interceptions with four of the team's eight picks. The unit led the Sun Belt in scoring and total defense in 2009, giving up 23.2 points and 340.5 yards a game.

Scouting The Special Teams: The Wolves are looking for both a punter and a kicker with junior Neely Sullivant slated to take over for departed P Ryan Wilbourn and sophomore Brandon Parker the likely candidate to replace PK Josh Arauco. The Wolves also will have new returners for both punts and kickoffs.

Roster Report:

• CB Walter Moody sustained a neck injury in the next-to-last scrimmage and missed the final week of spring practice, but he is expected to be ready for the fall. He played in seven games last fall after transferring from Northwest Mississippi Community College.

• QB Seth Tripod, a redshirt freshman walk-on, left the team after three practices in the spring. He was listed as a backup to Phillip Butterfield.

• CB Julian Jones, a redshirt freshman, topped off the spring with three interceptions in the spring game.


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