Jonesboro (ASU) – The Arkansas State football team wrapped up its 2010 fall camp Saturday morning, holding its annual Fan Appreciation Day at ASU Stadium as it went through its 18th practice since reporting on campus over two weeks ago.
The Red Wolves suited out in full pads and held a couple of full-contact sessions while fans looked on from the stands, collected schedule cards and posters and heard PA announcements about upcoming events for A-State athletics. Following practice, many of the fans made their way down to visit with players and coaches and to collect autographs.
"It's obviously great to have fans out here that love and support the Red Wolves and our football program," said ASU head coach Steve Roberts. "There are a lot of family members out here as well, and it's always great for our players to get to see their family after spending a long time away from them."
The team took the field at approximately 9:00 a.m. this morning, working through a brief rain shower midway through practice while covering various material that included individual and team drills, passing skeletons, blitz schemes and several team periods.
A-State held two "live" team sessions, one concentrating on situations where the offense had to start a drive backed up against its own goal line and the other focusing on different overtime scenarios. Roberts said that although the players have been put through a lot from a physical standpoint over the course of fall camp, he thought today's practice was pretty good and the team was able to accomplish some things.
"I thought our execution was pretty sound offensively, winning the coming out situation and overtime situation," said Roberts. "We got some good work on that and I was real pleased with the effort there. We did hold several guys out of the live action today, guys we know what they can do and have been in that situation before, and tried to get other guys some work."
The first full-contact team session saw the offense collect a first down on three of five series, including two series where it took just one play to move the chains. Sophomore quarterback Ryan Aplin completed a 15-yard pass to sophomore tight end Kedric Murry on the first play of the session, and Aplin came back on the very next play to find senior receiver Jonathan White for an 11-yard gain. The final first down came on the fourth series when redshirt freshman quarterback Phillip Butterfield connected with White on a third-down play that covered 13 yards.
Defensively, Elroy Brown and Timothy Starson each made a tackle for loss, Graham Bates broke up a pass and Ryan Carrethers appeared to have a sack before the whistle blew the play dead.
Working on overtime situations, the final "live" team session saw the offense score a touchdown on three out of the five series played. Running back Rod Smith accounted for two of the touchdowns, the first coming on a 10-yard run and the second a 28-yard rush. Smith finished the competition with four carries for 47 yards. Fellow running back Sirgregory Thornton also had a solid gain, running for 15 yards on his only attempt.
"If there is a surprise out of camp, it has been Rod," said Roberts. "He's had a great camp. He works extremely hard and doesn't say a word. He's a good football player, has great balance, good vision, hits the hole hard and learns well. We've been very pleased with his progress all through fall camp and he is someone who has got a future here."
The offense's final touchdown came on a 10-yard pass from Aplin to senior receiver Lucious Henderson. Freshman kicker Brian Davis ended the session with a 34-yard field goal after the defense held the offense to a 3-and-out.
Following practice, some members of the team attended the ASU Athletic Department's License to Howl program held in conjunction with Fan Appreciation Day. The License to Howl program gave them, along with other ASU student-athletes, coaches and administration, the opportunity to greet fans while they had free license plates put on their vehicles. The promotion also featured drinks and hot dogs compliments of Hays Grocery, along with frozen treats from the East Arkansas Broadcasters' Polar Roller. Gift bags containing coupons and give-aways were distributed by the Wolf Bookstore and Best Buy to everyone attending. KFIN Super Country 108 FM was also on hand with a live remote, along with 101.9 KISS FM and 95.9 The Wolf.
The football team will hold its next practice Monday at 3:30 p.m.