While meandering like a hobo along the sidelines, I happened upon A-State kicker Blake Grupe pounding pigskin into the practice net, getting drenched by rain beneath a partly clouded sky. The fountains, located beneath the west end waterfall, were pumping at maximum capacity, soaking anyone in a within a 50-foot radius with a relentless mist. Grupe and I shared a glance. “What the hell,” muttered the kicker, and continued to pound pigskin.
That’s what the Spring Game is all about, Blake Grupe – you stoically practice field goals in a manufactured drizzle while the fountains entertain the masses. Consider it a well-played sacrifice. Fountains are a crowd pleaser. At least we learned they worked.
What we didn’t learn was much about the 2021 Red Wolves. That’s really the function of a Spring Game – getting nothing and liking it. After all, aan offense that puts 500 yards in the Spring can easily average under 300 in the fall. All fans can really expect is to put an eye on some prospects, gauge the attitude of the new coach, and inventory the stars who are too injured to suit up.
There were injuries to note. Justin Dutton, Jeff Foreman, Sammy Johnson, Dahu Green and Bubba Ogbebor were among the padless (Dutton was on crutches). However, we got a good glimpse of some newcomers to Jonesboro, including current #2 QB Wyatt Begeal, who displayed a strong arm, some surprisingly quick wheels, and the inexperience you’d expect to find in a true freshman.
Also making his debut, Te’Vailance Hunt, the transfer WR from TCU. Physically, he gives off a distinct Dahu Green vibe (long, lanky). Others making an appearance were Khyleem Wayleed, the WR from Boise State, and Yale transfer RB Alan Lamar.
Did we learn anything from what was delivered on the gridiron? Welp, Corey Rucker looks absolutely ready to go, gobbling 10 catches for 101 yards. Newcomer Te’Vallance Hunt seemed to be targeted often as well. Injuries or not, the receiver squad remains the mightiest offensive weapon in Jonesboro.
While Butch Jones wasn’t impressed with the run game, both Lincoln Pare and Marcel Murray appeared healthy and fast. Murray is said to have impressed Butch Jones during spring, and it would nice to see the oft-injured running back achieve a season reflective of his potential.
But what we mostly learned was nothing, which is about what you can expect to learn from a Spring Game. Through observation, you might see that the defense (which had crumbled in reason seasons) appeared fast and focused, with DB Antonio Fletcher collecting a pair of picks on the day. You might have also noted that incoming #1 quarterback Layne Hatcher seemed alarmingly out-of-sync without Jay Adams and Brandon Bowling snatching 50% balls from the sky. Still, what can you absolutely know in the Spring?
By the end of the game, there was a score, which was not relevant, and a handshake line between the Gray and Red teams. Unlike years’ past, fans were not allowed on the field to mingle and selfie, which I suppose was a COVID protocol (even if the majority of fans seemed over the “pandemic thing”).
Some Photos For You To Look At
PHOTO CREDIT: Me, you bastards. If you steal one, at least have the decency to RT my column.
CORRECTION: I’ve been informed that the photo above does not feature A-State Cheerleaders, as was originally indicated, but the A-State Color Guard. Regardless, the squad did deliver a massive dose of good cheer.