Thursday Heat: Red Wolves versus Chanticleers Preview

I bobbed in and out of the ULM versus Coastal Carolina game on Saturday, hoping that the Warhawks would keep it within 30, partly because I had ten bucks on the outcome, but also because I was hoping to see a dent in in the Chanticleers codpiece. If there are dents, the Warhawks were not equipped to expose them. Coastal did whatever they wanted to ULM, grinding the Warhawk’s awful mustard-colored pants into that awful teal turf without a kernel of mercy.

It was almost as if the Chants understand that the only way they can retain their AP ranking (and eventually Committee ranking) is by pounding their Sun Belt opponents into paste each and every week. After all, as citizens of the Group of Five, we understand that one loss – or even a tightly played game – gives the Committee an excuse to drop you in favor of a premium name brand.

And that doesn’t bode very well for Arkansas State, who stagger home from a disappointing three-game road trip without an FBS victory – a sad surrenderer of 50 points per game to three teams that weren’t putting up many points before meeting our defense. Jamey Chadwell must be puffing his mullet contemplating the ways he can beef Grayson McCall‘s already meaty stats.

What’s Happening on Defense is Shocking to Behold

It wasn’t that long ago when the Red Wolves defense was a formidable strength. It was never quite a lockdown D – it was always more bend-don’t-break – but it could be relied upon to protect a lead. Against Georgia Southern, four minutes after Arkansas State acquired the lead, the moment vanished never to return. A similar situation occurred in Tulsa. Leads have been such fleeting, fragile things for Arkansas State.

We can thank Georgia Southern for placing in stark relief the deficiencies we have on defense – namely a lack of speed, technique, strength and size. It was astonishing to see how easily Georgia Southern blew past (and through) defenders. Check out the two touchdown runs from the Eagles’ Logan Wright:

How a RB averages 20 yards per carry

What adds to the frustration is that both defenses were set and ready for the run, yet Logan Wright – all 230-lbs of him – sped by largely untouched, building up a head-of-steam that had Red Wolves defenders trundling behind without much hope for catching up.

Post game, Jones mentioned his irritation with missed gaps and a failure to finish-up on tackles. What makes that discouraging is that these are issues that can’t effectively be corrected through a couple of practices. If the defense isn’t wrapping-and-rolling by the end of Fall Camp, they’re not going to magically acquire solid technique in Week 6.

We’re Likely to Hear “Grayson McCall to Isaiah Likely” Quite Often

Against the Warhawks, the Chanticleers made good use of Isaiah Likely, with McCall connecting with the future NFL tight end five times for 95 yards and two touchdowns. There’s no reason why Chadwell won’t use the dynamic combo to torture the Red Wolves downtrodden secondary, and we haven’t even mentioned the conference’s leading receiver, Jaivon Heiligh.

Furthermore, Coastal has an excellent run game to set up the pass, averaging a conference second-best 257 yards on the ground. We’ve talked about the Eagles historically stout run game, but the Chants have three RBs in the Sun Belt top ten for yards – Reese White, Shamari Jones and Braydon Bennet. White is especially dangerous, with 6 touchdowns on the season (NONE scored on the Warhawks). The Red Wolves defense is in for a long evening on national TV.

I Summon the Darkest Emotions of the Dark Emotions Board

Can the Red Wolves Trade Haymakers with the Chants?

In theory? Sure. When either James Blackman or Layne Hatcher is on his game, the Red Wolves can score quickly and often. What hurts is that neither Blackman or Hatcher are performing with any kind of consistency. Blackman threw three picks against Georgia Southern, understandable considering the pressure the Eagles applied. That pressure is likely to remain intense all season with big offensive lineman Robert Holmes officially out for the year with a knee injury.

When Blackman struggled in the third quarter in Statesboro, Jones mercifully activated Hatcher, who immediately connected with Dahu Green and Lincoln Pare for fast scores. Yes, Hatcher did throw a pick to ultimately put any chance for an unlikely comeback on ice, but perhaps it’s time to truly adopt a kind of two-QB system where the one quarterback replaces the other when his hand grows cold.

Going Deep on the Two-Deep

QBJames BlackmanLayne Hatcher
RBAlan LamarLincoln Pare
TEReed TylerEmmanuel Stevenson
WRJeff ForemanAdam Jones
WRCorey RuckerReagan Ealy
WRTe’Vailance HuntDahu Green
LTAndre HarrisNoah Smith
LGIvory ScottMakilan Thomas
CJacob StillEthan Miner
RGErnesto RamirezJustin Dutton
RTWyatt LuebkeAvery DemmonsRpbert Holmes (injured)
DEJoe OzougwuThurman Geathers
DEKivon BennetTW Ayers
DTTerry HamptonQuay Mays
DTVidal ScottJohn Mincey
LBAnthony SwitzerCam Jeffery
LBCabel BonnerDerrick Bean
LBDane MotleyJeffmario Brown(or) Jaden Harris
SElery AldexanderAntonio Fletcher
STaylon DossTrevian Thomas
CBJarius ReimonenqDenzel Blackwell
CBLeon JonesSamy Johnson
Special Teams12
KBlake GrupeAidan Ellison
PRyan Hanson
KRMarcel MurrayLincoln Pare
PRJohnnie LangLincoln Pare

We’ve come to understand that the depth chart are unreliable tea leaves for reading the Red Wolves’ future. However, we do see that Robert Holmes is officially off the two-deep has he recovers from his knee injury, and that Jacob Still is now the starter at center over Ethan Miner.

[Auto-tuned James Earl Jones Voice] “Blood Moon”

(Looks up at moon and speaks in Batman voice) “Do you bleed?”

You Bore Me With Your Prattling!

It doesn’t look good for Arkansas State, who hosts the #15 Coastal Carolina Chanticleers at 6:30 on ESPNU. However, while Coastal is undefeated, it acquired those wins by playing a ridiculously easy schedule with four out of five games played in cozy Conway. The only time Coastal struggled was when compelled to travel to Buffalo, where the Bulls played the Chants tight 28-25. (The Bulls, by the way, are currently 2-3 with its only FBS win courtesy of Old Dominion.)

Now the Chants get to take the very long trip to Jonesboro to face a growly desperate Red Wolves team. Will the miles, the softness and the desperation be enough for the Red Wolves to topple Coastal Carolina? I have doubts. But you never know.

Chanticleers 65, Red Wolves 42