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Red Wolves Spring Game: New Alpha Dogs In Town

The 2016 Arkansas State Red Wolves Spring Game wasn't exactly riveting football. Nor was it particularly well played football. But from the trash heap of broken routes (and broken ankles) rose several emerging stars.

Ja'Von Roland-Jones, Cameron Echols-Luper and Justice Hansen hold court.
Ja'Von Roland-Jones, Cameron Echols-Luper and Justice Hansen hold court.
Jeremy Harper

Rarely is anything significant learned from a Spring Game. Players are playing not to get hurt (and as we learned Friday night, not always succeeding). Quarterbacks are still learning the playbook. The defense is always miles ahead of the offense. And somehow, the head football coach is obligated to give those brave souls in attendance some semblance of entertainment.

But there were some meaty revelations, though not the ones we expected. As a bonafide witness to the game, I'll dig into my imaginary mailbag and answer all your imaginary questions.

Who's gonna be our quarterback, Jeremy?

Cutting right to the chase eh? Friday night, no fewer than five Red Wolves signal callers were given the opportunity behind center, and the only one to toss a touchdown pass was unheralded redshirt freshman Carson Coats (4/6, 38 yards).

The passer with the most yards? Uh, running back Warren Wand, who chucked a 57 yard bomb.

Of the Big Three (James Tabary, Justice Hansen and Cameron Birse), Tabary tossed the most passes (14) for the most yards (53), but it was Hansen who received the start, and it was Hansen answering questions with two teammates at the presser. (And it was Hansen who collected the most praise from Coach Anderson). If anyone has the edge, it's Hansen.

Okay, well, how'd that running game look?

Hear me me out: the Red Wolves fielded exactly eight offensive lineman Friday night, and according to Coach Anderson, only 5 were perfectly healthy. As a result, the RBs on the field (Johnston White was unavailable) found little running room. Warren Wand and redshirt sophomore Logan Moragne received the bulk of the work, but barely racked up a statline.

So maybe, Jeremy, the Monster Defense is just really awesome.

Let's not start high-fiving just yet. Every spring defense looks awesome. But it was tempting to believe we're seeing the Monster Defense Part II, only scarier. Bo Sentimore, who had considered retirement early this year after enduring a season-ending injury, looked incredible. Money Hunter was back to picking passes, and Ja'Von Roland-Jones was sacking like a Piggly Wiggly bag boy.

Tell us that Chis Murray is going to be okay. PLEASE!

Chris Murray is going to be okay, according to Blake Anderson, despite fracturing his ankle. The junior wide receiver immediately went into surgery after landing on his foot awkwardly while fielding a pass.

The 5'9" speedster is an important piece to Buster Faulkner's super-fast game plan. Red Wolves Universe is hoping Murray will be ready for Fall practice. Meanwhile, Murray was the only Red Wolf to get significantly dinged, which is always a nice sigh of relief after a spring game.

If the QBs were off, and the RBs were stymied, then what passed for entertainment Friday Night?

Well, this happened:

Coach Blake Anderson called a time out and challenged The Bigs from the Defensive and Offensive Lines to field punts (courtesy of emerging punter Damon Foncham). Dee Liner fielded his punt cleanly, but everyone else pretty much looked like lineman trying to catch fish from a balcony. That is, until redshirt senior offensive lineman Devin Mondie stepped onto The Scarlet A:

That's right. The 6'5", 305lb tank-on-legs caught his punt single-handed.

Speaking of punting, we heard something crazy about Cameron Echols-Luper

Hm? Actually, it was no big deal. Not really:

Yeah, it was kind of crazy. He responded to Coach Blake "P.T. Barnum" Anderson's challenge, and he just went ahead and did it.

Is Echols-Luper the next Red Wolves superstar?

The redshirt junior sure seems like it. The dude's got charisma, which was evident in the post game presser. He's fast, too. Ja'Von Jones, who's pretty quick himself, says tracking down Echols-Luper is "like chasing a Cheetah." Lastly. CE-L also has crazy skills. In addition to hurling a 34-yard bomb and hauling in 69-yards worth of chucks, the dude uncorked a 50-punt just for the hell of it.

We already knew CE-L was bad ass. Who else shined on Friday Night?

New offensive coordinator Buster Faulkner seems to have a thing for pass-catching tight ends. And former WR turned TE Blake Mack seems to be the beneficiary. The 6'3" junior hauled in 3 passes for 83 yards and a touchdown (which he punctuated with a goalpost slam dunk). Whoever winds up behind center this Fall should have himself a nice big target in Mack.

Great job, Jeremy. Good effort. What else you got?

I've got nothing left but some odds-and-ends that look awesome in a bullet point format.

  • Coach Anderson thought that the player who made the most of his spring was redshirt senior LB Quanterio Heath.
  • According to Coach Anderson, the Spring was a success, but a summer in the weight room with Strength & Conditioning Coach Matt Shadeed was essential for Hansen and CE-L's growth.
  • When asked about his transfer to Arkansas State, Justice Hansen was all smiles. He said he loved the atmosphere and the players.
  • In addition to Heath, Anderson had positive words for new junior wide receiver Justin McInnis. Anderson called the 6'6" Canadian "the rangiest guy we've got."
  • Coach Anderson would have liked to have seen a bigger crowd, but in my opinion, the crowd of 2,000 was pretty good for a weird Friday night. Maybe we can get this thing scheduled back on a Saturday where it belongs?

So what's next? (Besides staring blankly into space until September.)

The next time these Red Wolves officially assemble, it will be with the majority of the freshman recruiting class on August 3rd. Until then, it's nothing but Red Wolves baseball (uh-oh) and Track & Field. That should hold us over. Right? Right?

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