The Arkansas State Red Wolves have had a ton of success over the past five or so years heading into the 2017 showdown with the Miami Hurricanes. In back-to-back scheduling mishaps the ‘Canes are on the road to Jonesboro, Arkansas after traveling to Boone, NC a year ago to destroy App State. Much like App State, Ark State is a solid Group of 5 team but should be an easy out for Miami. Even worse for the Red Wolves- they travel to Nebraska the week before hosting the #Canes.
However, here’s the kicker- the Red Wolves have finally created program stability and aren’t going down without a fight. They ran out and played fast and mean defense against UCF in the 2016 Cure Bowl with a 17-0 1st quarter lead finishing the Knights off 31-13. They run, they hit, they block kicks.
Miami’s biggest issue will be getting up for the game after a cake walk past Bethune and before the annual rivalry games against Florida State in Tally. As a coach, you can’t overlook a game like this with the speed and intensity ASU plays with.
There was an era of Miami football that is reminiscent of the style of play the Red Wolves deploy. Blocking kicks, creating turnovers in the kicking game, having runners who hit... that’s Miami football of old! Coach Hartley has to have the kicking game ready early for the Wolves and Braxton Berrios has to be sure handed on punts. This will be a game fans will want punt returns but it might be safer to fair catch and keep possession.
Above- Ark State gets at the UCF shield punt
Above- Ark State strips the UCF KR
Above- Punt return fumble recovered by ASU
QB Justice Hansen and the Wolves offense are looking to throw the ball. They didn’t have a 1,000 yard rusher and only ran for 1700 yards combined. But they threw for over 3,000 yards and 30 TDs on the year. UCF prides itself on being #UCFast but Arkansas State played like the Florida team with swagger and speed in the Cure Bowl. The Wolves broke 7-10 yard throws for the long TD’s Manny Diaz doesn’t like to give up.
Empty set from the Wolves up the seam for a TD
10 personnel slant wheel comb for a TD
On defense the Wolves like to run a 4-3/4-2-5 spill concept not to dissimilar from Michigan State or Pitt. They’re going to stretch you out east to west and let their speed push you to the sideline. This is a great concept when you’re the faster team but when Miami comes in with Mark Walton, Ahmmon Richards, and Jeff Thomas can they keep this concept afloat? They were boat raced by a less than stellar Auburn squad in 2016.