Minutes before the game, Red Wolves fans received this special kick to the junk:
Immediately, the Warhawks/Red Wolves game took a massive hit to its watchability, which wasn’t good to begin with. Adams wasn’t just the Sun Belt leader in TDs and receptions, he was damn good TV, making opposing defensive backs look like fools all season long. The ride was over, and the carny was throwing us off the Tilt-O-Whirl. What reason did any of us have to watch winless ULM take on clueless Arkansas State?
Turns out, Saturday wasn’t a game at all; it was a crystal ball.
This season, the Red Wolves lost two of its premiere wide receivers in Dahu Green and Jonathan Adams. With those losses opened the opportunity for two future stars to go supernova: sophomore Jeff Foreman and freshman Corey Rucker. Both had given us flashes of brilliance, but neither had the opportunity to truly take over a game. Not until Saturday.
With the ULM defense besieged by injury, the Red Wolves’ offensive game plan became a bombing run. The law firm of Bonner & Hatcher unleashed a hellstorm of pigskin. Jeff Foreman and Corey Rucker were the primary targets of interest.
Jeff Foreman, by any and all measures, enjoyed a career day with 144 yards and a pair of TDs. At times. the 6’2″ receiver looked absolutely unstoppable. But the day belonged to Corey Rucker, the 3-star recruit from Yazoo Mississippi who Anderson’s staff flipped from South Alabama.
The numbers are mesmerizing: receptions of 69, 66, 55 and 31 yards, nine in all for a total of 310. His 4 TD receptions tied a Red Wolves’ record, now shared with A-State legend Omar Bayless. Rucker’s nine receptions set an FBS freshman record and his 310 yards is now an Arkansas State benchmark.
Lost in Rucker’s Roman orgy of statistics is Layne Hatcher’s performance behind center. Bonner wasn’t bad (185 yards and a TD). Hatcher was just Olympian, tossing for 326 and five passing touchdowns. The game plan was minted for Hatcher, who excels at boldly tossing footballs where receivers can make plays.
Hey, let’s not start pulling each other’s fart fingers. These baroque stats came courtesy of ULM, a program without funding or wins. But we saw something special in Jonesboro on Saturday – proof of life. Jay Adams will be going to the NFL this spring, but the Red Wolves receiving squad is still the most formidable in the Sun Belt.
We’re not doomed yet.
It Isn’t All Foreman and Rucker
Arkansas State’s secondary is historically terrible. However, the Red Wolves have something in sophomore Samy Johnson, the raw former RB who keeps making big plays (while occasionally getting burned). Look for Johnson to continue to develop as a defensive back.
TW Ayers, the sophomore tight end who moonlights as a defensive end, is also a Red Wolves superstar, constantly delivers big plays on both sides of the ball. We haven’t seen a talent like Ayers since player/coach Col. Slab McSlugnuts led Arkansas State in rushing yards and tackles in 1922.
PHOTO CREDIT: Travis Clayton Photography