Arkansas State definitely won the pregame last night, as 26,000 + turned out on a surprising fall-ish weather evening to watch Blake Anderson unveil his 2016 squad and all of its potential. But that was about all that went right last night in Jonesboro as Toledo shoved its way past the Red Wolves 31-10. The highlight of the night, as far as crowd response, might have been multi positon talent Cam Echols Luper’s punt for 68 yards in the first quarter. That pretty much sums up how the game went for the home squad.
Toledo was able to rush consistently for first down gains to stay ahead of the chains early and gave a stifling effort on defense to keep the Red Wolves off balance as Toledo outgained the home team 556 to 266. Arkansas State failed to gain significant yards on first down keeping them behind the chains and in 3rd and long most of the night where they only converted 3 of 16.
Surprising Stats: As much discussion as there was pre game about the vaunted Toledo rushing game, the Rocket star of the night turned out to be QB Logan Woodside who went 23-31, 371 yards (career best), with 3 TDs.
Speaking of the Rocket run game, the duo of Hunt and Swanson combined for only 114 yards on 31 carries but most of those yards came on first down or key 3rd down conversions.
For the Red Wolves, it was the absence of production from the heralded new comers that catches the eye. QB Chad Voytik was 11-24, 124 yards, 0 TDs, but was sacked 3 times and had no time to set and deliver, while wide receivers Cam Echols-Luper and Kendall Sanders were effectively shut out of the game.
The Red Wolves rushing game didn't fare much better only gaining 144 yds on 35 carries from its top 3 rushers with most of those yards coming late in the game when the outcome was set. But what's most surprising about the rushing stats is that the leading rusher in attempts was QB Voytik with 18, mostly coming on a number of QB draws.
Final Analysis: As Blake Anderson said in his post game presser this team has to get better quickly because the schedule doesn't get any easier with road trips to Auburn and Utah State looming in the next two weeks. It was no surprise that the offense couldn't find a rhythm with so many new faces at key skill positions but what does seem obvious is that this team needs leaders to step forward on both sides and help find the identity of what the 2016 squad can be.
Next: At Auburn 9/10 6:30pm SEC Network