JONESBORO (8/6/10) – The Arkansas State football team, which reported for its 2010 fall camp Wednesday, went through its annual media day activities Friday morning and later that afternoon took the practice fields for the first of 19 workouts that will be held leading up to the start of classes at ASU on Aug. 23.
The Red Wolves entered ASU Stadium at 11:00 a.m. to take a team photo and kickoff its media day. The players and assistant coaches then took the opportunity to field media interviews and fulfill photo requests. Head coach Steve Roberts then addressed those in attendance inside the football facility at a press conference and gave the 21 seniors on the squad an opportunity to introduce themselves and talk a little about their time at A-State.
"We are very excited about the upcoming season, and we've talked about making this year the year we want it to be," said Roberts at the press conference. "Our excitement is because of the young men that we have in our program now, their hunger and their excitement leading into 2010."
Roberts spoke about the Red Wolves' new offense as well, saying that it's a change but exciting. He noted there are some things that are the same, but the new offense has capabilities that can limit what the defense can do by utilizing tempo, formations and motions.
Roberts also fielded questions about the A-State defense, which ranked No. 1 in its league in 2009 and features Preseason Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Year Bryan Hall and fellow preseason all-conference selection Demario Davis.
"We've been extremely successful defensively by finishing first or second in the conference each of the last four years, and expect that excellence to continue," said Roberts. "When you look at it on paper, you see that we have a whole lot of holes to fill from a returning-starter standpoint, but we feel very optimistic about the players we have here who will step into some of those roles."
A-State, which returns 51 lettermen and 27 players that started at least one game last season, was picked to finish third in the Sun Belt Conference according to the league's 2010 preseason poll.
"I believe our league continues to improve at a very rapid rate," said Roberts. "There is no doubt that we've grown more as a league than any other in the country when it comes to level of competition over a very short period of time. Within this conference, I think anybody can beat anybody, and I like our chances."
ASU went through position meetings later in the afternoon before taking the practice fields at 5:15 p.m. in shorts and helmets for its first practice. The workout began with individual drills and work on the inside game, but also featured special teams segments, passing skeletons, team practice and other areas of focus.
"It was a great first day," said Roberts following practice. "I thought defensively, it was as good as any first practice we've had. We ran to the ball extremely well, the retention from the spring and the adjustments and communication defensively were really good. I thought we did some good things offensively also. We had a number of new guys that got a tremendous amount of reps tonight. I thought they did a good job. I was real pleased with the receivers and the job they did and the backfield looked pretty good at times. The offensive line started off really well, just didn't finish the way we need to. We need to get better in the kicking game, but it was a great first day."
The Red Wolves spent their first practice together as one unit, but Saturday's and Monday's practices will be divided into two sessions between mostly newcomers and veterans in order to get players more reps early in camp. The team will practice as one unit again on Sunday, while a scrimmage is planned for A-State's fifth practice on Tuesday. Saturday's practice is scheduled to start at 4:30 p.m.