Arkansas State football kicks off Sun Belt play Saturday at Old Dominion

Arkansas State TE Seydou Traore caught a TD reception last week at Memphis.
Arkansas State TE Seydou Traore caught a TD reception last week at Memphis.(Source: KAIT)
Published: Sep. 20, 2022 at 5:56 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 23, 2022 at 4:33 PM CDT
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - Arkansas State football kicks off Sun Belt play on Saturday.

The Red Wolves were on the mic Tuesday afternoon. 1-2 A-State travels to Norfolk, Virginia to face Sun Belt newcomer Old Dominion.

“They’re sitting at 1 and 2, and very well could be sitting at 3 and oh, or 2 and 1 at the least,” said A-State head coach Butch Jones. “And you look at their great win at home versus Virginia Tech, they play exceptionally well at home. ODU is a team that don’t beat themselves. It starts offensively, it all starts with Kuntz at tight end. But Wolff does a great job, Wilson, Jennings. Big, big offensive line. Do a great job of providing a running attack. What they do, they do exceptionally well.”

Starting right tackle Robert Holmes is out for the remainder of the season. He was injured in the 4th quarter at Memphis.

“It’s very, very tough when an individual like him that’s sacrificed and put so much work into it. And he was playing the best football he played. And it was on a play where we were pushing the pile,” Jones added. “Noah Smith is a individual who will step into that position. Noah has worked very, very hard, had a good training camp. And so now it’s his opportunity.”

The Red Wolves want to minimize mistakes in the finale of a three game road trip.

“Yeah, I think it’s a great opportunity to take what we’ve been able to learn these last couple weeks,” said defensive lineman TW Ayers. “Needing to be able to finish at the end of games. Whenever you have a team on the ropes, that sort of thing. And communication. Just things that we’ve learned that we have to be better at. Using this new opportunity, just a fresh start into conference play. It’s a great time to start getting those things figured out.”

“The games before brought us together,” running back Johnnie Lang added. “We found a few missing pieces that wasn’t there for us as a team. We’re more excited to go into conference play, and just play opponents that’s going to give us a chance to win a championship and stuff like that.”

The Monarchs are 1-2 in 2022, including an upset win over Virginia Tech. There’s some quirky stats so far. They’re 120th in FBS in total offense and total defense. But the ODU D is top 10 nationally with 8 turnovers. Sophomore linebacker Jason Henderson is 2nd in the nation with 44 tackles.

ODU head coach Ricky Rahne breaks down the A-State offense.

“They’re doing a nice job of creating explosive plays while taking care of the football. The quarterback is doing an excellent job of not taking sacks and getting the ball out of his hands. He is a really good athlete, but he is reliable staying in the pocket, getting the ball out, and doing those sorts of things. He’s doing a great job of that. #7, not the biggest cat in the world, but he’s explosive and he can go. We expect them to have #10 back, he’s their leading guy last year. Their running backs, they’ve got one that’s a little bit more of a runner, he’s a transfer. And then they’ve got one that is a very very good receiver out of the backfield. Done some good things. Their offensive line has been rebuilt over the last couple of years. Some good things there.”

Arkansas State faces Old Dominion Saturday at 5:00pm at S.B. Ballard Stadium. The game will be streamed on ESPN+.