Pack vs. Pride: Red Wolves face new foe in first home game of the season
Published: Thursday, August 29, 2013
Updated: Thursday, August 29, 2013 09:08
Get your scarlet and black ready because it’s football season.
It’s been 236 days since the Red Wolves last played a football game, and in two days the magic of college football is back.
For the first time in school history, the back-to-back Sun Belt Conference champions will face the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) during Saturday’s season opener at Liberty Bank Stadium.
The game will be ASU’s first home opener since 2009.
The Red Wolves, who have an eight-game winning streak, are up against the Southwestern Athletic Conference champions who finished 10-2. When facing teams from the SWAC, ASU is 6-0 with their most recent win over Alcorn State last season.
“You don’t always know what you’re going to get from your opponent early on in games. Teams evolve and they do different things,” Head coach Bryan Harsin said.
“We just have to take care of ourselves, not put ourselves in bad situations with stupid penalties and not turn the ball over.”
There are five players returning who were named All-Sun Belt Conference players from 2012, plus seven who were named to the 2013 Preseason All-Sun Belt Conference team.
The Golden Lions are bringing back their quarterback Ben Anderson, who threw for 2,346 yards and rushed for 524 yards. Harsin said Anderson is a dual threat the team will keep an eye on, but senior running back David Oku isn’t focusing on any one aspect of UAPB’s offense.
“We’ll take what they give us and play to our temp and our style when we play against any team,” Oku said.
“Sometimes you can press the issue too much if you just want to focus on one thing, but I think that’s what’s so great about our offense, we’re not focused on one thing. We’re always looking for the advantage.”
But once again, this is a season of new faces. Coach Harsin spent the last seven seasons as an offensive coordinator for the Boise State Broncos and Texas Longhorns before accepting the head coaching job at ASU.
According to CBSSports.com, Harsin was ranked the sixth best hire out of the 26 coaching changes made at the time.
In his 13 years as an NCAA FBS coach, Harsin has seen 10 bowl games and been a finalist for the 2009 Broyles Award, which recognizes the top assistant coaches.
Starting quarterback Adam Kennedy will see his first game since his season ending shoulder injury last year at Utah State.
Kennedy said the strength of his teammates is why he chose ASU and looks forward to this season.
“Having Oku next to you in the backfield and all those returners on the offensive line, you know Bryce [Giddens], Steven and all those guys, it’s great. Of course you look outside and that might be our best position on the field with J.D. [McKissic], [Allen] Muse, Julian [Jones] and R.J. Fleming,” he said.
“It’s incredible as a quarterback to stand there and look around and basically go anywhere on the field.”
Kennedy, Oku and Harsin all spoke of confidence in the team’s upcoming performance.
“I think we’re ready. Coach has put a great game plan together and I think we’re confident and ready to go,” Kennedy said.
“I’m excited with all the talk around town over the game. The coaches have talked to us a lot about focusing on the opponent at hand and not looking ahead. We expect to go out there and do good things.”
Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. on Saturday and will be broadcasted on 107.9, ESPN3 and AStateRedWolves.com.
The 2013 inductees for the Athletics Hall of Honor will also be honored during the game.