Red Wolves gear up for Memphis rival
Published: Thursday, September 6, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 6, 2012 17:09
Gus Malzahn and his team knew going into last Saturday’s game against Oregon they were facing one of the nation’s best teams, but despite their preparations they quickly discovered just how far of a gap there is between the Arkansas State Red Wolves and the Oregon Ducks.
The Ducks scored on their first possession and maintained their offensive blitzkrieg through the first half, dropping 50 points on an inexperienced ASU defense while holding preseason Sun Belt all-conference quarterback Ryan Aplin and his offense to just 10. The Red Wolves battled back and scored 24 second-half points, but they ultimately faltered, losing 57-34.
“The reality is we played one of the best team’s in America on their home field. We didn’t respond very well, but the second half we came out and I was very proud of our team,” Malzahn said. “We’ve got to take that and build upon the rest of the season.”
ASU (0-1, 0-0) looks to build upon that second half this Saturday, opening their home schedule with a match against the rival Memphis Tigers (0-1, 0-0), who kicked off the year with a loss to Tennessee-Martin, a Division I-AA school.
ASU won last year’s contest against Memphis 47-3 in front of a home crowd of 29,872, but that neither the coaches nor the players are taking the Tigers lightly.
“You can’t look at [last year’s score] because you never know how a football game is going to be. I don’t look at who they lost to or what I did last year because people get better over the summer,” said senior wide receiver Josh Jarboe, who tied a school record against Oregon with 13 catches.
Against Memphis last year, he caught seven passes for 162 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Defensive coordinator John Thompson praised Memphis’ offense and warned that last week’s misstep against UT-Martin isn’t indicative of their talent. Senior offensive lineman Jordan Devey is a Conference USA preseason all-conference selection.
“They’ve got a big-time receiver – [Marcus] Rucker is very, very good. They’ve got a couple of running backs that are powerful, that… are tough,” Thompson said.
“They’ve got big, tall receivers. They’ve got a good offensive line. Their quarterback has a strong arm, and I’m sure that he’ll run the ball a little bit more.”
Malzahn pointed to ball security as a key to the game, as the Red Wolves turned the ball over three times against Oregon.
“Well, we’ve got to protect the football. We have to play sound football on both sides…. I want to do what we’re supposed to do, what we’re coached to do and play good solid football,” Malzahn said. “At the same time they’ve got some very good players. Their coach [former TCU assistant Justin Fuente] was one of the best offensive coordinators the last few years.”
Memphis is the Red Wolves’ oldest opponent and leads the all-time series 28-22-5, but ASU has won three of the past four meetings.
ASU seeks its first win of the year Saturday night at 6:00 p.m. at ASU Stadium.