USC Football Schedule Preview 2015: Scouting Arkansas State


The USC football schedule opens with the Arkansas State Red Wolves at the Coliseum, as second-year head coach Blake Anderson attempts to spoil the Trojans much-hyped season start.

RELATED: Sarkisian and Kessler named one of nation’s top duos

Arkansas State, despite hiring their fifth coach in five years years, made their way to their fourth bowl berth in a row after achieving a 7-6 record on the season. They lost a 63-44 shootout to Toledo.

Here’s an early look at USC’s first opponent of the year:


The Red Wolves boasted a prolific uptempo offense in year one under Anderson and with a load of returning skill position players the unit is not expected to slow.

Sep 13, 2014; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Arkansas State Red Wolves quarterback Fredi Knighten (9) throws a pass against the Miami Hurricanes during the second half at Sun Life Stadium. Miami won 41-20. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Quarterback Fredi Knighten is back for a final season after a successful junior campaign which saw him lead the Sun Belt in passing touchdowns and rank second in passing yards and passer rating. He added 779 yards rushing with 11 touchdowns on the ground as well.

Arkansas State will be with the entirety of last year’s receiving corps from last year, including leading receivers senior Tres Houston, sophomore Dijon Paschal, and senior J.D. McKissic.

There is power in numbers when it comes to Red Wolves, who saw 11 players catch touchdown passes in 2014.

Behind Knighten’s dual-threat attack, Arkansas State averaged 36.7 points a game in 2014.

Though sparsely-used, senior running back Michael Gordon made the most of his carries in 2014 with 1,100 yards on a 6.92 yards per carry average.


Defensively, Arkansas State’s aggressive nature resulted in 36 sacks last year, second-best in the conference. Defensive linemen sophomore Ja’Von Rolland-Jones and senior Chris Stone both return with 7.5 and 7 sacks respectively.

Still, the Red Wolves were all-around average on the defensive end in 2014. They conceded 30.5 points, 205 yards rushing and 216 yards passing per game, marks all ranking seventh in the Sun Belt.

Though they led the conference with 16 interceptions last year, only junior Money Hunter and senior Rocky Hayes, who combined for three of that total, are back for this season.

Special Teams:

Arkansas State’s special teams unit may be most well-known for running two of the worst fake punts in college football last year, the first featuring a play-dead routine and the second from their own 7-yard line.

More from Reign of Troy

Less memorable, but still something to keep an eye out for was punter-kicker Luke Ferguson’s 53% success rate on 15 field goal attempts in 2014. Ferguson was replaced by Logan Spry for the final three games of the season, hitting three kicks while missing two PATs.

Threat Level: Low

Arkansas State may feature a dreaded dual-threat quarterback and the advantage of being underestimated, but the Red Wolves should not be a legitimate upset concern at the Coliseum.

They were 2-5 on the road in 2014 and 1-5 against FBS teams with winning records.

Despite returning an arsenal of players, there is not enough fire power there to present anything more than a warm up game for the Trojans, who have not lost a season opener since 1997.