When my son played Junior Deputy Baseball, one of the boys on my son’s team was a brash Chicagoan whose father was as equally as brusque. One afternoon, the son allowed a ground ball to dart through his legs, much to the father’s chagrin. When it came the son’s time to bat, the father shouted from the stands, “REDEEM YOURSELF!”
It became a kind of joke between me and my own son. Anytime he’d screw up, I’d shout “REDEEM YOURSELF!” Then we laugh and laugh. Good times!
I’m not joking though with this A-State football team. It’s time to “REDEEM YOURSELF,” Red Wolves. And what better place for redemption than at Tulsa, where the Hurricane are winless, a loser of their season opener to an FCS program, and have most recently lost to a name-brand Big Ten team.
Yeah, so essentially, the Red Wolves are getting a Huskies do-over. Not to worry, Arkansas State fans, for the power play goes on so that we might contribute a verse. And our verse is “REDEEM YOURSELF.”
What Did We Learn in Seattle?
Ha ha, nothing! Absolutely nothing. And that’s the real tragedy to losing 52-3 to Washington: What did we learn other than we can’t run the ball and that our secondary will always offer opposing quarterbacks the very best game of their lives? That’s just a rerun from last year.
If you can’t learn anything, maybe you can unlearn something? Or, at least disremember what happened on September 18. Just move past it, file the failures under F for “fuggitaboudit” and replace all that with useful memories of blocking schemes and crisp route running.
Tulsa is 0-3 and are a -14 Favorite
Just three weeks ago, the college football community was chortling at Tulsa’s expense, as the mighty Hurricane were bested by somebody called UC Davis 19-17. Things didn’t get much better against Oklahoma State, who punched in three 4th quarter touchdowns to win 28-23 – one of those sad TDs was a 98 yard kick return. In Week 3’s match against Ohio State, Tulsa kept it tight for a half until the Buckeyes ground out a 41-20 win.
0-3 and still favored to beat the Red Wolves by a pair of scores? Junior QB Davis Brin wasn’t exactly Kurt Warner in Week One and Two – zero TDs and just 425 passing yards. Against Ohio State, Brin put up two TDs and 426 yards. Oddsmakers must have seen what Washington’s Dylon Morris did to the Red Wolves secondary (367 yards, 3 TDs).
Furthermore, Tulsa’s defense is ranked a ho-hum 73rd nationally, but that’s miles better than 126th ranked squad from Arkansas State. Add the home team advantage, and yeah, -14 seems right.
Who’s the Arkansas State Quarterback?
Don’t ask me. This is just a free website shamelessly reliant on your clicks. But I doubt if even the most expensive sports subscription could tell you who’s starting on Saturday. On one hand, you have the guy who threw for fewer than five yards a completion on 16/38 passing. The other turned the ball over twice in limited action. Who you gonna pick?
Listen, despite the 1-2 record, the Huskies (playing at home) sport a terrific defense (when motivated). Can we give Layne Hatcher and James Blackman a mulligan. Of course! The football gods are generous. However, I suspect Coach Butch Jones took a dim view of those two turnovers from Hatcher. My guess is we see Blackman get another crack on Saturday.*
*Confirmed by Coach Butch Jones’ Tuesday press conference
Who To Look Out For
Shamari Brooks was supposed to be the Hurricanes bell cow, but after three weeks he’s only accumulated 137 yards and zero scores. So far, the more effective back is Brooks’ running mate, Deneric Price, who averages 5.7 yards a carry and has punched it into the end zone twice.
It’s not really the offense that keeps the Hurricanes in these games. The defense is stocked with studs, including junior linebacker Justin Wright, who has a pick on the year. Look for this player, too – Jaxon Player, the senior 290-lb defensive lineman known to wreck havoc behind the line of scrimmage. He’ll provide a challenge to the Red Wolves’ embattled offensive line.
Who Needs to Wolf Out?
Who besides everybody? Where to begin? Let’s start at quarterback: either Hatcher or Blackman need to establish that they run the huddle, and nether can wait until the second half to make the declaration. The slow starts are murdering Arkansas State, putting the team into a hole for three straight weeks. The weapons with which to run an effective offense are readily available. It’s time to execute.
Also in need of a serious Wolf Out – the secondary, who all smell like burned hair. The Red Wolves are constantly falling victim to big plays and padding the stat sheets for even the most mediocre of quarterbacks.
Lastly, this is the game for which Coach Butch Jones and offensive coordinator Keith Heckendorf must earn their bones. Are the 2021 Red Wolves a legitimate contender to make conference noise? Or are they a rebuilding project in search of moral victories? That decision is made in Tulsa this Saturday. It’s redemption time.
Deliver Your Prediction or Die, Fool!
Last week, I submitted a prediction based on the Red Wolves’ offensive performance against Memphis and Washington’s dismal outings against Montana and Michigan – which still seems like a solid approach to analysis if you ask me. Still, I’m compelled to proceed more cautiously in Week 4.
The Tulsa defense worries me. Davis Brin rediscovering his receivers against Ohio State troubles me, too. The Red Wolves’ implosion at nearly every facet of the game last week terrifies me most of all.
And yet, I continue to have faith in Jones. Hell, he’s four weeks into his Arkansas State career, and he has every right to settle in. As Rex Steele said, the team 2,000 miles west of us was just better. We should do alright against Tulsa.
Red Wolves 35, Hurricane 31
Photo Credit: Mine