Start Time: 8:00 PM CST. Friday, September 2
Location: Centennial Bank Stadium (30,964)
Radio: EAB Red Wolves Sports Network (107.9 FM Flagship)
Series History: Toledo leads 4-0
Live Stats: astateredwolves.com
Line: Arkansas State -3.5 O/U 64.5
She packed my bags last night, pre-flight Zero hour, nine AM...
The Toledo Rockets pack their bags and head to Arkansas for the second time in less than a year. Last year the trip brought them to Little Rock, where they upended SEC member Arkansas 16-12. This time, the Rockets look to beat Arkansas State for the third time in their last 15 games which includes two regular season games and the 2015 GoDaddy Bowl.
Shootout or Cage Match
Both squads bring offensive firepower into Centennial Bank Stadium Friday night for this ESPNU matchup. Arkansas State will feature multiple running backs including Warren Wand (‘15—118 att, 709 yds, 5 TDs), Johnston White (‘15—99 att, 614 yds, 14 TDs), and much anticipated newcomer Armond Weh-Weh behind an experienced and salty offensive line. All eyes will be on three newcomers including QB Chad Voytik, A-back Cameron Echols-Luper, and WR Kendall Sanders to see what they can bring to Buster Faulkner’s offense.
Toledo will counter with not one but two All-MAC running backs in Kareem Hunt (973 YDs in ‘15) and Terry Swanson (923 YDs in ‘15) running behind four returning starters on the offensive line. The Rockets averaged 35 points per game last year and were #1 in the MAC in rushing offense (207 yds per game).
What about the D?
Blake Anderson spent the last two years focusing on beefing up the Red Wolves defensive front, size and depth wise. This should be the year that those results show in production. Expect several to play up front but keep an eye on DE Ja’Von Rolland-Jones and newcomer DT Dee Liner to see what impact they have in disrupting the Toledo rushing game.
For the Rockets, its a list of new faces as they lost 8 starters from the 2015 squad that only gave up 20 points per contest. The defense does return S Dejuan Rogers (67 tackles in ‘15) and DT Treyvon Hester (34 tackles, 2.5 sacks in ‘15).
This will be a battle of wills as Arkansas State throws its front six into the gaps to stop the Toledo rushing attack. The question will be answered quickly as to whether Blake Anderson’s front line has enough to slow the Rocket runners. Expect a slow start from the usual fast paced Red Wolves offense as they try to find a rhythm with new QBs Voytik and Justice Hansen both getting snaps. I have a feeling this may turn into a surprise low scoring affair (see Ark. St. vs Utah St. 2014, a 21-14 ASU OT win).
Arkansas State 24 Toledo 22