Though Arkansas State began the 2022 season with a win, the Red Wolves dropped seven of their next eight games on the way to a 3-9 record.
In head coach Butch Jones’ third season with the program, A-State is hoping a better start to the season will lead to a better result in the Sun Belt standings.
Arkansas State Football’s Over/Under Win Total
Arkansas State’s win total Over/Under is 4.5, with Under 4.5 at -105 and Over 4.5 at -115.
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Arkansas State Football’s Schedule
9/2 at Oklahoma
9/9 vs Memphis
9/16 vs Stony Brook
9/23 vs Southern Miss
9/30 at UMass
10/7 at Troy
10/21 vs Coastal Carolina
10/28 at ULM
11/4 vs Louisiana
11/11 at South Alabama
11/18 vs Texas State
11/25 at Marshall
Bold indicates Sun Belt contests.
Key Arkansas State Football Returners
2022 All-Sun Belt 1st Team
K Dominic Zvada
Arkansas State’s Offense Seeking Improvement
A-State was 10th in the Sun Belt in scoring (25 points per game) and last in total offense (314.8 yards per game). The Red Wolves hope they can make some improvements with the changes they’ve seen this offseason.
James Blackman was A-State’s passing leader last year, but he’s gone. The Red Wolves addressed the quarterback position by adding former Colorado and Tennessee signal caller J.T. Shrout. The former three-star prospect threw for 1,220 yards and seven touchdowns at Colorado last season.
As for A-State’s pass catchers, Seydou Traore, a tight end who led the Red Wolves with 655 yards and four touchdowns in 2022, transferred to Colorado. Champ Flemings, who tallied 492 yards and a touchdown on 41 catches, is also gone.
However, senior wideout Jeff Foreman is back after catching 30 passes for 491 yards and four touchdowns. The Red Wolves also picked up former Syracuse wide receiver Courtney Jackson and former South Carolina wideout Corey Rucker.
The Red Wolves lost Johnnie Lang, who led the team with 419 rushing yards to go with three touchdowns. But they brought back Brian Snead, who ran for 299 yards and a team-high six touchdowns in 2022, while also adding former UT Martin running back Zak Wallace.
Arkansas State was also last in rushing offense with 88.2 rushing yards per game while averaging 2.8 yards per carry and allowed the second-most sacks (38) in the conference. The Red Wolves should be better in those areas considering the offensive lineman they have coming back and the O-linemen they’ve added.
Left tackle Makilan Thomas, left guard Mehki Butler, and right tackle Noah Smith are all back after starting multiple games last season. A-State also emphasized the offensive line in the transfer portal this offseason by bringing in Tobias Braun, Jalen Cunningham, and Hamilton Hall from Ole Miss and Jacob Bayer from Lamar.
Dominic Zvada, who made the All-Sun Belt first team in 2022, should help the team score some points as well. He was 17 of 18 on field goals and 30 of 31 on point-after attempts a year ago.
Melique Straker A Top Returner For Arkansas State’s Defense
Arkansas State’s defense was also below average compared to the rest of the Sun Belt last season. The Red Wolves allowed the fourth-most points per game (31.4) and the fifth-most yards per game (405.1).
However, they should be capable of making some strides with the continuity they’ll have on that side of the ball. They return seven of their top 11 tacklers from a season ago.
Jordan Carmouche, who led the Red Wolves with 83 tackles, as well as Kivon Bennett, who tallied a team-best 9.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks, have moved on.
However, senior linebacker Melique Straker was second on A-State last year with 81 total tackles as well as eight tackles for loss. Redshirt senior safety Eddie Smith led the team with two interceptions to go with six pass breakups. They both return.
A-State also hopes Ethan Hassler, a junior defensive lineman who was second on the team with three sacks, can help pressure the quarterback more often.
In the transfer portal, A-State added former North Alabama defensive lineman Micah Bland and former Kansas linebacker Gavin Potter to help up front. In the secondary, the Red Wolves picked up cornerbacks Manny Stokes Jr. from Coastal Carolina and Donte Thompson from Incarnate Word.
Arkansas State Football Season Prediction
Arkansas State won’t win the Sun Belt Championship and won’t get to five wins. The Red Wolves do, however, have a good chance of winning four contests, which would be the most in Butch Jones’ tenure as head coach.
The Sun Belt is going to be highly competitive, so A-State will have to do well during its non-conference slate.
The Red Wolves probably won’t beat Oklahoma on the road or Memphis at home. But I could see them defeating Stony Brook at home and also winning at UMass.
But I don’t see them winning more than two Sun Belt matchups. I’m specifically thinking their games at ULM and vs. Texas State at home should lead to victories.
A-State’s game against Southern Miss, which is at home, could be a deciding factor for if the Red Wolves will go over that win total. But beyond that, I don’t believe this A-State roster will be strong enough to take down Troy, Coastal Carolina, Louisiana, South Alabama, or Marshall.
The Red Wolves would certainly have to exceed many expectations to finish the season .500 or better.