Jeff Reed: UCA Bears Win Changed Everything for Red Wolves


Jeff Reed Author PageIt is not a date that will stand out in the history of Arkansas State football.

Well, it is a night that will be remembered, but not anything to be all braggadocio about.

The date we are talking about it Sept. 24, 2016, the fourth playing date of the this current football season. In Jonesboro, the UCA Bears defeated the Red Wolves 28-23 and sentenced the A-Staters to a 0-4 start.

It was also the end of the beginning. And the start of change.

Buoyed by unexpected preseason expectations, the A-State Nation did not expect to have a 0-4 start and they certainly did not expect to lose to the Bears, who are having a fine season by the way.

But there are many who believe that had the Red Wolves won that night, and they easily could have with almost 100 more yards offense that was offset by four turnovers, they might not be where they are. Things might have stayed the same and the season remain a struggle.

Often you have to hit rock bottom before you change.

Since that landmark moment the Red Wolves have won five straight, and that is 14 straight in conference play, and sit 5-4 on the season and 5-0 in Sun Belt play.

So the week after the UCA Bears loss the Red Wolves changed things. They changed a lot. Practices became more physical and there was a lot more work of “good on good” in practices. The approach of focusing more on learning and recognition late in the season was out the window. Being physical, something that was limited during a lot of the preseason work to preserve the thin areas of the team, became the norm.

And the Red Wolves responded.

Things started to change with the last-second 27-26 victory over Georgia Southern. Once back in the win column the Red Wolves have found their way. It helped that four of the first five league games were all at home.

Thursday night we find out just how far the Red Wolves have come back. A trip to Troy, a new member of the Top 25 with their 8-1 record, awaits. The Trojans have been the most impressive team in the Sun Belt this season and like A-State have a few trophies on the mantle back home, just none in the past 5 years. Troy rallied and defeated preseason favorite Appalachian State on Saturday and now has the quick turnaround to face the Red Wolves.

It is the first meeting of 5-0 Sun Belt teams. It’s on national TV (ESPNU). And one is in the Top 25. It could be a glorious night for the league.

A-State is hoping it is just more of the same.

uca bears beat red wolves


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