Jeff Reed: What Is Known of the Red Wolves after 3 Games?


Jeff Reed Author PageHere we are three weeks into the season at the Arkansas State Red Wolves are about where we expected. 

At best the thought was 2-1 with Missouri, at home, being the swing game. IT was there for the taking, but the Red Wolves didn’t close and the Tigers, two-time SEC East champions, escaped. (Which seems to be something they are doing a lot of on their way to a 3-0 start.)

So where are the Red Wolves?

That is hard to say. The USC came got ugly, thanks in part to 4 turnovers, but the Red Wolves did manage to produce 400 yards offense. A week later against Missouri, at home, A-State let one slip away after leading the Tigers 17-10 at halftime and losing 27-20.

Missouri State, on the downside of FCS and with a first-year head coach, came at the perfect time for the Jonesboro crew. The Red Wolves were able to hold out a lot of starters, seven players made their first start at ASU, and romp over the Bears 70-7.

Perhaps the most watched new starter was redshirt freshman James Tabary, who was filling in for starter Fredi Knighten, who left the Missouri game in the late third quarter with a groin strain.

With all eyes on the new QB, he responded, finishing 21 of 24 for 255 yards and three touchdowns. He completed 14 of his final 15 passes. His quarterback rating was 218.0.

Now you say what does that mean? Well as we all know this was a big drop in competition.

A week early, in duty after Knighten was hurt, Tabary was 3 of 7 for 27 yards and two interceptions. One of the picks was a deflection and the other was a duel possession where the Mizzou defender just took the ball away.

Is Toledo as good as Mizzou defensively? Well the Rockets, who defeated Arkansas State 63-44 in the GoDaddy Bowl in January, return 10 starters and have started 2-0 with victories over the Resource Five, Arkansas and Iowa State.

The big question around Jonesboro, and most likely northwest Ohio, this week is who starts. Anderson said in his weekly press conference he expects it to be Knighten, who does not need a lot of work this week because he knows the system so well.

Asked about it during his post-game presser Saturday, he said he expects Toledo to prepare for both quarterbacks because that is what he would do.

They are different no doubt. Knighten runs as well as any other QB in the nation and Tabary has a knack for working through progressions and hitting the right receiver. A-State tight ends caught five passes Saturday on plays the coaches say are in the game plan each week.

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Jeff Reed is editor of


Some additional game notes:

Redshirt freshman quarterback James Tabary was 21-for-24 for 255 yards and three touchdowns and Arkansas State rushed for six touchdowns in a 70-7 victory over Missouri State Saturday night at Centennial Bank Stadium.

“Another beautiful night and great crowd and I’m really excited by how the guys came out,” said head coach Blake Anderson. “We challenged them all week to bring the same energy level that we had the first two weeks. We knew that the talent level would be different and to not have a letdown in terms of discipline, and not to have letdown in terms of effort and they came out and did what we asked them to do.”

A-State wracked up 624 total yards on 72 plays to average 8.7 yards per play. The defense picked off three passes and held Missouri State to 341 total yards.

Tabary targeted 11 different receivers and racked up 255 yards passing before being removed late in the third quarter. Eight of Tabary’s 21 completions went for 15-plus yards. Redshirt-sophomore Cameron Birse was 2-for-2 passing for 25 yards.

J.D. McKissic led the Red Wolves with four receptions for 85 yards and a touchdown. Darion Griswoldhauled in three catches for 39 yards and a score while Sterling Stowers had three receptions for 24 yards and a touchdown.

A-State had seven players account for 344 yards rushing on 46 attempts to average 7.5 yards per rush. Michael Gordon had nine carries for 92 yards and a touchdown and Johnston White had 11 rushed for 87 yards and three touchdowns. Logan Moragne registered the longest run of the night, a 54-yard touchdown run, to finish with 81 yards on six carries. Warren Wand received a hand off 11 times and piled up 60 yards and a score.

After the Bears went three and out to start the game, punt returner Chris Murray returned the kick 34 yards to set up the Red Wolves at the Missouri State 28-yard line. It took A-State just three plays to put six points on the board as Tabary found Griswold for a 16-yard touchdown. Tabary was a perfect 3-for-3 on the drive for all 28 yards targeting three different receivers.

Khari Lain picked off the first of three interceptions for the Red Wolves and returned it 44 yards for a touchdown. It was the first career interception for Lain and the first returned for a touchdown since Money Hunter returned an interception for a score at the 2015 GoDaddy Bowl.

A-State converted two fourth down situations on an 11-play, 65-yard touchdown drive that made the score 21-0 with two minutes left in the first quarter. White rushed for gains of five yards on each of the two fourth down plays and Gordon capped the drive by tiptoeing down the sideline for a 26-yard touchdown.

The ground game helped the Red Wolves roll the lead to 28-0 early in the second quarter as freshman Warren Wand scampered for 26 yards and his first career touchdown. A-State used six plays to cover 71 yards, 37 of which came on the ground. Tabary continued to impress in the passing game, completing each of his two attempts for 34 yards.

Missouri State moved inside A-State territory for the first time after a 27-yard pass completion, but the Red Wolves defense quickly forced a punt to regain control. A-State was pinned at their 8-yard line, but it took just four plays to find the end zone once again.  Gordon broke free for a gain of 36 yards on third and short and J.D. McKissic did the rest of the work, catching a pass from Tabary before going 49 yards for the score.

A-State came out of the halftime break and used 10 plays to end a 65-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown run by White to lead 49-0. White rushed for 17 yards and capped off the drive with his second touchdown run of the evening.

Less than a minute later, White scored his third touchdown of the night with a three-yard run that had A-State leading 56-0. The Red Wolves earned possession at the Bears 3-yard line after Chris Stonehauled in one of three interceptions on the night. Johnston then plunged in the end zone from three yards for the score.

The Red Wolves made it 63-0 with 6:32 remaining in the third quarter with Sterling Stowers hauling in his first career touchdown reception. A quick five play, 49-yard drive featured Tabary targeting Stowers three times for 24 yards.

Missouri State found the end zone with three minutes left to make it 63-7. Ryan Heaston rushed from 35 yards for the score, but A-State regained the 63-point lead with a 54-yard rushing touchdown by Logan Moragne with 1:16 remaining.

A-State travels to Toledo for a 6 p.m. (CT) kickoff at the Glass Bowl. The game will be televised on ESPN3.

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