Big plays galore during A-State scrimmage
JONESBORO – One week into its fall camp, Arkansas State took the Centennial Bank Stadium field Saturday morning for the first of two extended scrimmages before its season opener at Nebraska.
The Red Wolves ran about 126 live plays Saturday with no drive starting beyond the offense’s 40-yard line. The first half of the scrimmage limited the number of plays for each unit and was all situational, while the second portion allowed for traditional drives.
“I thought we played hard on both sides of the ball,” head coach Blake Anderson said. “I like the idea that the offense, in a scrimmage that didn’t have any short fields and was really built for open-field football, was able to finish in the end zone some. I also like the fact that the defense created some turnovers – that’s where it’s going to start.”
The outing was filled with big plays, including five offensive touchdowns and three turnovers created by the defense. The offense accounted for multiple explosive plays in both the running and passing game, including a 46-yard TD run by sophomore quarterback Carson Coats.
The defense piled up 13 tackles for loss, 10 pass break-ups and nine sacks, while junior defensive back Justin Clifton intercepted a deflected pass in the back of the end zone. Junior defensive lineman Josh Curry and freshman Demari Medley both recovered a fumble as well.
“I thought the tempo for a first scrimmage was really good,” Anderson said. “We lined up quicker than we have in the past – even the defense, in terms of getting lined up and ready to play, was good. I think we’ve preached that all week, and I thought it showed. We had good energy. They came to compete – we’ve just got to get better at what we’re doing.”
Four of the five QBs who saw action were responsible for at least one passing or rushing TD, while junior receiver Justin McInnis posted a pair of receiving scores. Senior wideout Chris Murray and sophomore tight end Avery Johnson caught one TD pass each. Johnson’s scoring reception from redshirt freshman QB Logan Bonner was good for 67 yards, the longest play of the day. Bonner had another 45-yard touchdown pass, and junior Justice Hansen and sophomore Blake Dever each delivered one pass to the end zone.
The defense saw 17 players account for its tackles for loss, sacks, passes defended and fumble recoveries. Although quarterbacks weren’t tackled to the ground, sophomore defensive lineman Javier Carbonell was responsible for a team-high three sacks, while redshirt freshman William Bradley-King and sophomore T.J. Harris each had two. Sophomore safety Darreon Jackson recorded a scrimmage-high two pass break-ups.
“It was a physical scrimmage,” Anderson said. “What the film is going to show will really be the truth of everything, but it felt physical – guys flying to the ball, you could hear the pads popping, and we came out of it healthy. We’ve had some physical practices. Our inside drills have been smash-mouth, but we want the team to understand that is going to be our mentality – we’ve got to be able to run the ball and stop the run to win a championship.”
The Red Wolves’ second-and-final fall camp scrimmage will be held Saturday, Aug. 12 in conjunction with A-State’s “Fan Day.”