NEW ORLEANS (astateredwolves.com) –The Arkansas State football team resumed its on-field preparations Wednesday for the New Orleans Bowl, holding its first workout at the Saints' practice facility since arriving in New Orleans Tuesday afternoon.
The Red Wolves, who participated in their first official bowl function last night at a welcoming party, didn't have any bowl events scheduled for today, but hit the meeting rooms this afternoon before departing their team hotel for practice.
"Last night was the latest night of the week (for our players)," said A-State head coach Blake Anderson. "We really just wanted to use this practice today to work up a good sweat and get some good mental work in. They were dragging a little today. They got to see New Orleans yesterday and today, but that's part of it. We wanted them to enjoy it and be safe, and they were."
A-State will hold two additional practices Thursday and Friday before facing Louisiana Tech in the New Orleans Bowl. Thursday's practice will also be held at the Saints facility, while Friday's will take place in the Superdome.
"Tomorrow will be a normal football cycle for us, and that's when I think we kind of put all the finishing touches on the game plan," Anderson said. "I didn't want there to be a lot of mental stress on them today. I wanted them to enjoy the bowl site and the day, because when we get back together tomorrow we're going to turn the intensity up."
A-State will carry the nation's fourth longest winning streak into its game against Louisiana Tech, which will be making its first ever appearance in the New Orleans Bowl. The Bulldogs are making back-to-back bowl trips for just the second time in school history after finishing the 2015 regular season in second place in Conference USA's West Division.
"Louisiana Tech is balanced on offense with weapons in all phases, and (quarterback Jeff) Driskel can throw and run," said Anderson. "He's a big target, so he's a guy you've got to have bodies on, and he's not easy to take down. Their running back is as good as or better than anyone we've seen all season, and they have a couple of speed targets that are hard to match up with.
"I kind of look at us, and I think they're similar. You have to defend everything. Defensively, they are built great against the run and we like to run the ball, so somebody's got to give. Also, can we throw and catch effectively to soften up the defense. To me, those are kind of chess match conversations throughout the game – who has a turnover, who makes a mistake – that will have a big impact on the game."
The Red Wolves have a full day tomorrow with three different bowl functions and meetings scheduled, in addition to their second practice in New Orleans. The team will attend the World War II museum in the morning, take part in a media luncheon at the Superdome at noon and also visit the Children's Hospital in New Orleans.
Arkansas State fans are strongly encouraged to purchase tickets for the New Orleans Bowl through the A-State Ticket Office to directly support the Red Wolves' bowl trip and to ensure they receive priority seating within the designated Arkansas State area.
All remaining upper and lower reserved locations are $43, while Arkansas State University student tickets are $20 each. Students must have a valid student ID and purchase tickets directly from the A-State Ticket Office, located at the Convocation Center's lower red entrance. $63 tickets are already sold out. Fans can purchase tickets by visiting the A-State Ticket Office in person, by calling 870-972-2781, or online by visiting AStateRedWolves.com/BowlCentral.