Jonesboro (ASU) – The Arkansas State Red Wolves took to the practice field twice Friday, the second of four scheduled two-a-day sessions in their 2010 fall camp. The Red Wolves worked out in shorts and shoulder pads during the morning session, then dressed out in full pads and wrapped up the afternoon session in ASU Stadium.
Arkansas State worked on individual and team drills in both sessions, with the morning session also focusing on kickoff and kickoff return, and third-and-long situations.
"I thought our team segment went really, really well," said ASU head coach Steve Roberts following the morning practice. "Our third down team segment to end practice was good to start with, but we didn't finish as well as we had hoped. But we are still learning and we put some new things in that caused a little bit of hesitation on both sides of the football."
The Red Wolves concluded their afternoon practice with a full-contact team competition period that featured 12 plays and put the offense and defense in a third-and-long scenario. The offense converted three first downs, including a 19-yard pass from quarterback Ryan Aplin to receiver Allen Muse, a 14-yard run by Aplin and a 19-yard completion from quarterback Phillip Butterfield to wide receiver Jonathan White.
The defense forced six incompletions, recorded two tackles for loss and held the offense to a one-yard gain on the other nine plays. Linebacker Nathan Herrold and defensive lineman Amos Draper teamed up for one tackle behind the line of scrimmage, while defensive end Jeremy Gibson was responsible for the other. Safeties Jaquan Kilcrease, M.D. Jennings and Kelcie McCray all recorded one pass break-up, while defensive lineman Byran Hall hurried the quarterback on another incompletion.
"Our defense won the third-and-long competition convincingly," said Roberts. "If the offense wins four or five of those third-and-longs, then we're moving the chains in that situation. Hopefully we'll be able to avoid those situations, but when you find yourself in them you have to convert some of them in order to stay on the field and give yourself an opportunity to win. I was real pleased with the way we picked it up defensively as the practice went along. Offensively, we didn't pick it up enough, never changed the tempo, and I was disappointed in the competitiveness, but they'll bounce back as it seems to go in cycles during fall camp."
"I am pleased overall (with camp up to this point)," continued Roberts. "We just have to continue to get better every day and we didn't get better at some places today like we hoped to."
Two new additions to the ASU roster were also on the field in the afternoon session, with former Hoxie defensive lineman Derek Johnson reporting for his first practice since transferring to A-State from the University of Texas. Johnson was a prep All-American and two-time all-state selection at Hoxie and was rated as the state's top defensive tackle and third-best player overall following his senior season with the Mustangs.
"We are very excited about getting Derek here," said Roberts. "Obviously, he is a long ways away from being in playing shape, learning what to do and being competitive for us, but we're confident he is going to work extremely hard and looking forward to him having a productive year with us."
Joining Johnson on the practice field was former Hoxie teammate Clay Hart, who will walk on at quarterback for the Red Wolves.
"We are very excited to have Clay here as well," said Roberts. "He is a former quarterback at Hoxie and has been enrolled as a student here. Clay started to come out in the spring and then decided to come out in the fall. He wasn't part of the 105 (players that originally reported), but when we had a couple of openings he stepped in and we're proud to have him as part of our team."
The Red Wolves will return to the practice field Saturday at 8:45 a.m.