JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - The Arkansas State Football team officially reported for fall practice on Wednesday and were greeted with a large group of interested media.
In addition to being reporting day, it was media day for the Red Wolves.
Head Coach Blake Anderson held a news conference in the afternoon and the hours leading up to that were filled with player interviews and time with the assistant coaches.
Once media day was complete, the team had meetings and went out for the first team meal of the 2015 season. Prior to that, those of us in the media got the chance to pick the brains of the A-State personnel to discuss what their thoughts were on this year's squad.
There are a multitude of story lines that will follow the pack into the season but none more satisfying and appropriate than the fact that the Red Wolves return their entire coaching staff for the first time in five seasons. "I think it really meant a lot to the kids that these guys chose to be here and be in the room with them," said Anderson.
Choice is the key to the staff coming back for a second season at Arkansas State, Anderson said that many of his coaches had other offers this offseason. "Several had the opportunity to leave and didn't," he said, "They turned down jobs at other places."
The benefit is obvious to the players who have seen coaching staff after coaching staff depart for other schools. "It's huge," said Quarterback Fredi Knighten, "As an offense we're not trying learn a new system, we're working on perfecting and going deeper into the system we already know."
The less obvious benefit, however, is the benefit to the staff itself. "You've got to give Coach Anderson a lot of credit," said Cornerbacks Coach Trooper Taylor, "To be able to work for a guy like Blake and obviously, Terry, and having an AD that has a personality kind of like mine is always good."
When you begin to break down the offense and defense, the Red Wolves return a lot on offense and are trying to fill some gaps on defense. According to the staff, the biggest challenge the A-State offense will face this season, is itself. "Your biggest fear is that your so comfortable that your overlooking things and so it's that fight to avoid complacency," said Offensive Coordinator Walt Bell.
On defense, things aren't so simple. With the loss of team leader and star linebacker Q Lee, the stoppers are looking for people to step up. "I'm hoping that Chris Stone, Rocky Hayes, I'm hoping that Chris Humes, and don't be surprised if you see Blaise Taylor step up and do that," said Defensive Coordinator Joe Cauthen.
One of the central issues for the Red Wolves defense in 2014 was the depth on the line, Cauthen told Region 8 Sports that he feels they have helped that issue. "We've got some young guys that are now more experienced and we've signed several guys and brought some guys in," he said, "There will be some competition for playing time this season."
A-State begins Fall Practice on Thursday at 9 am and will practice almost daily at the same time. The first scrimmage is set for Saturday, August 15 at 9 am and Fan Appreciation Day is Saturday, August 22 at 6 pm. All practices are open.
Region 8 Sports talked to 11 Red Wolves players and coaches at Arkansas State Football Media Day, you can see every interview in its entirety on the Red Wolves Raw section of our website.