USC Football Opponent Preview: Arkansas State Red Wolves


With less than a month away from kickoff, it’s time to preview each of USC football’s opponents, starting with the season opener against Arkansas St.

RELATED: Ranking USC’s 2015 Schedule By Threat Level

When: Saturday, Sept. 5, 8 p.m.Where: The Coliseum2014 Record: 7-6 (Lost GoDaddy Bowl, 63-44, to Toledo)Coach: Blake Anderson 7-6 (1 year)Projected Returning Starters – Offense: 9Projected Returning Starters – Defense: 5

Key Players:

Fredi Knighten, QB (5-11/189, Sr.): 269-of-423 passing, 3277 yards, 24 TD, 7 INT, 141.08 rating; 211 carries, 779 yards, 11 TD

Michael Gordon, RB (5-9/187, Sr.): 159 carries, 1100 yards, 13 TD; 25 catches, 191 yards, TD

Ja’Von Rolland-Jones, DE (6-2/225, So.): 30 tackles, 12 TFL, 7.5 sacks

This and That:

For the past several seasons, the Arkansas State football program has been bemusing, given it’s recent success but lack of coaching stability.

The Red Wolves have qualified for bowl eligibility for four seasons now, but will have their head coach Blake Anderson returning for the first time in five go arounds.

The head coaching title has served as a stepping stone for the likes of Hugh Freeze and Guz Malzahn.

The Red Wolves finshied their 2014 campaign going 7–6, 5–3 in the Sun Belt conference to finish in a three way tie for fourth place.

What’s To Like:

When comparing the levels of talent between these two teams, the Trojans have no reason to lose this game. There is no doubt that the Red Wolves have found their share of wins within the Sun Belt, but they have failed to capture a win versus a Power 5 school since they beat Texas A&M in 2008.

One of their biggest issues last season was stopping the run on defense. Opponents averaged 205.2 yards per game in 2014. With a full slate of 0-lineman returning, the Trojans should have little trouble adding to that statistic.

What’s Not To Like:

Like any season opener, teams have a tendency to start out a bit rusty. An offense that averaged nearly 500 yards per game is not to be overlooked.

The Wolves run a no huddle, up tempo offense that can wear down defenses easily.

Fredi Knighton returns as a dual-threat QB with a solid arm and rapid speed. The Trojan d-line will have to keep him in the box and force him to throw vertically.


Arkansas State will score some points, but we should see an easy Trojan win and the backups on the field by the beginning of the 2nd half.

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