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Doomed or Destined for Victory? Your Arkansas State Red Wolves at the Bye

The Red Wolves enjoy a much needed Bye in Week 6. Depending on your mood, Arkansas State is either A) primed for a dominating Sun Belt run or B) doomed to a disappointing season of hellfire and dark despair.

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

The Red Wolves enter the Bye Week 2-3, and there are many ways to look at it. For example, you can say we're two-thirds away from another post season bowl bid! Or, you might lament that we're halfway to a mediocre 6-6 season. We Arkansas State fans are a temperamental and difficult to please lot. After all, we've endured the slings and arrows of both outrageous fortune and Joe Hollis. Whatever your mood, we have the Bye Week mood ring.

The Red Wolves are Undefeated in Sun Belt Play!

Not even The Great Malzahn can boast of opening the season 1-0 in conference play (Damn you, Western Kentucky!). Coach Blake Anderson has accomplished the feat two years in a row now. The win over Idaho is a solid start to a conference championship, sending a signal to the Sun Belt that the Red Wolves are a still a force to be reckoned with.

The Red Wolves Struggled Against the Conference's Sorriest Team.

Struggled may be a little harsh, but once again the Red Wolves allowed an opening drive touchdown – for the third time in five games! As improved as the defense appears to be, the Red Wolves can't continue starting big games behind seven points. Honestly, even an embattled Paul Petrino will find a way to score points. Double P is Mr. Offense and Señor Points. But the A-State first quarter was still dismaying to behold.

At 2-3, the Red Wolves are Where We Figured!

With road losses to PAC12 favorite USC and MAC wunderkind Toledo, plus a home loss to the defending SEC East champion, the Red Wolves are where most prognosticators predicted. Slightly dinged (but not irrevocably damaged), A-State is primed for conference play. The defense is creating opportunities, and the offense is just now finding its mojo! Plus, the Red Wolves looked every bit as good as Missouri at The Cent, proving that this program can compete with privileged programs.

Once Again, the Red Wolves Allowed Opportunity to Slip from Its Paws.

With Missouri at The Cent and with double-incentive to trounce Toledo, the Red Wolves came up short for both the program and the Sun Belt. While the game against the Tigers was entertaining and capably played, A-State was defeated by the Rockets within the contest's first five minutes. Now A-State enters conference play against college's 2nd weakest remaining schedule, leaving fans to stare blankly at the loss column and muttering like a hobo.

The Running Game is Back, Baby!

What's not to like about Michael Gordon busting out against Idaho for 221 yards and three scores? It may surprise you that Arkansas State's rushing attack is ranked 43rd in the nation (just ahead of Florida State). Add that to dynamite performances from Johnston White and Magic Wand against the Vandals, and you can breathe a sigh of relief for a squad that looked awful against Toledo.

The Passing Game Still Ain't Back.

Jim Tabary (yep, I'm committed to calling him "Jim") tossed his first FBS TD against the Vandals, and that's all gravy, but it was Flash & Co. carrying the load. While the Red Wolves boast a top 50 rushing attach, the air game sits at 88th in the nation. Tabary is a redshirt Freshman with a load of talent, but he has several explosive receiving targets who are gathering dust. J.D. McKissic, Tres Houston, and Darion Griswold demand more rock. GIVE THEM ROCK!

Red Wolves Defense is Sizzling Hot!

The A-State secondary is plucking footballs out of the sky like pretty fireflies, collecting 10 INTs in five games, good for second most in the FBS. Despite injuries, the defensive line is still putting enormous pressure on opposing quarterbacks and forcing mistakes. And let's face it, offensive turnovers have hurt the defense statistically. Now that the Red Wolves are scoring points again, look for the D to play looser and collect even more turnovers!

We Allowed 28 Points to the Vandals. The Vandals!

Not counting yet anther Pick 6 allowed by the Red Wolves, A-State surrendered the before-mentioned opening drive TD plus three more scores – to a freshman quarterback! Looking solely on points, the defense has yet to put up a dominating performance outside it's one-score punishing of Missouri State. Is this Defense for real? Or does it still need a ton of work? We want to believe!

Fredi Knighten Is Coming Back!

With the technology afforded by the world's greatest scientists, I managed to put together a graphic that pretty much sums up Fredi Knighten's value to Blake Anderson and Arkansas State:

Kinghten Graphic

The offense is built around Fredi Knighten's skill sets, for which the senior has many. One only has to see the Before Fredi/After Fredi results during the Missouri game to see how valuable the All-Sun Belt signal calling is to Blake Anderson's offensive attack. Opening against the bottom of The Belt proved fortunate for A-State, allowing Knighten one more week to get healthy and get the Red Wolves back to scoring a tidal waves of points.

Fredi Knighten Is Coming Back.

Believe it or not, there are some rumblings among the fan base that Tabary gives the Red Wolves a better chance than Knighten. Fredi looked terrible against USC, and he's prone to tossing picks deep in Red Wolves territory. Tabary is the future, a talent recruited by Coach Anderson. He has the arm to lead an air raid-type offense. And with more experience, the connection between Tabary and McKissic/Houston/Mays will gel.

Fredi Knighten Is Coming Back (Rebuttal)!

Who are we kidding? A healthy Knighten has the potential to annihilate the Sun Belt, and Coach Anderson knows it. Fredi is back practicing with the first team offense, and Tabary has returned to absorbing all he can from the sidelines. The preseason hype on Knighten isn't unwarranted. He has first class speed and is better at chucking the rock than his game at USC implies.