JONESBORO, AR (ASU) – The Arkansas State football team resumed its on-field preparations Sunday for the upcoming GoDaddy Bowl, taking Centennial Bank Stadium field at 11:30 a.m. in cold weather conditions for its first practice since returning to campus yesterday following the team's Christmas break.
The Red Wolves held their initial bowl-game practice Dec. 11, which was followed by five additional workouts through Dec. 19. A-State will hold two additional practices tomorrow and Tuesday before departing for Mobile, Ala., on Wednesday, Dec. 31.
"We were a little rusty today, but that's to be expected after being gone for a few days," said A-State head coach Blake Anderson. "I thought they battled through it pretty well. We weren't particularly sharp throwing and catching, but that will improve each day. You can't have as many days off as we did and it not have some effect, but that's just the nature of when the bowl game is played."
The Red Wolves worked out in sweats and shoulder pads, reviewing its game plan before ending the practice with some conditioning work. The squad then dismissed for a short period before returning to the field at 3 p.m. for a 2014 team photo in jersey's adorned with GoDaddy Bowl patches.
Team and position meetings were held yesterday and again this morning before practice, and Anderson said the Red Wolves are focused on their game against Toledo that is set for Jan. 4, one week from today, at 8 p.m. at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. The Rockets ended the season with an 8-4 record and as the Mid-American Conference's West Division co-champions.
"We installed the game plan before we left (for Christmas break), and we're going back through it again," said Anderson. "As much as anything, we're just trying to get readjusted. You can tell the guys were focused in meetings, and they've got a healthy respect for our opponent. They've watched enough tape to know that Toledo is a good football team, so I think I think they are prepared in that sense. Now it's just getting their bodies ready because they know what we're up against."
A-State will participate in a GoDaddy Bowl Team Welcome reception Wednesday night after arriving in Mobile, the first of several events scheduled in conjunction with the game. The welcome reception will include a southern-style shrimp boil immediately followed by a 'Game Show Night' at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.
The Red Wolves will also workout Thursday, Friday and Saturday at South Alabama's practice facility, giving the team five total practices remaining before the bowl contest.
"Including today, we've got three good work days to get the game plan reviewed and cleaned up before we travel on Wednesday," said Anderson. "Thursday's practice will really be a recovery day that will be more conditioning than anything the day after New Year's Eve. Then it will just kind of be a normal three-day cycle for us, which is a solid review day, a good walk through mental day and then it's time to play. It's going to happen pretty quick."