Category: Arkansas State Red Wolves

D.J. Durkin
Associated Press

D.J. Durkin adds three to finalize first Terps coaching staff

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Five weeks after being introduced as Maryland’s next head coach, D.J. Durkin has completed his inaugural Terrapins coaching staff.

With three openings remaining, Durkin revealed the trio of assistants that will assume the positions in College Park — Chris Beatty, Anthony Tucker and Matt Barnes. Beatty will serve as wide receivers coach, Tucker will be in charge of running backs coach and Barnes will coach linebackers.

““These are three really quality additions to the coaching staff,” said Durkin. “All three are tremendous coaches who are really solid recruiters and truly care about and can relate to our players. I’m excited to have them on board.”

Beatty spent 2015 on Mike London‘s staff at Virginia; London was named as Durkin’s associate head coach and defensive line coach last month. In addition to UVa., Beatty spent time on staffs at Wisconsin (2013-14), Illinois (2012), Vanderbilt (2011), West Virginia (2008-10) and Northern Illinois (2007).

Tucker spent the past three seasons as the wide receivers coach at Arkansas State, while Barnes was a defensive analyst at Michigan, where Durkin served as defensive coordinator.

Maryland announces Walt Bell as offensive coordinator

COLLEGE PARK, MD - DECEMBER 04: Newly hired Maryland football coach DJ Durkin holds his son Luke while being introduced during the Maryland Terrapins and St. Francis (Pa) Red Flash game at Xfinity Center on December 4, 2015 in College Park, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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For any coordinator-turned-first time head coach, hiring a coordinator to run the opposite side of the ball is the most important decision he’ll ever make. In many ways, it is that opposite-side coordinator who will decide the fate of his tenure, not the head coach.

Michigan defensive coordinator-turned-Maryland head coach D.J. Durkin (pictured) has made his call for offensive coordinator, and he’s going with Walt Bell, the Terps announced Sunday.

Bell spent the past two seasons as assistant head coach, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Arkansas State, concluding his tenure with last night’s loss to Louisiana Tech in the New Orleans Bowl.

“Walt is one of the brightest offensive minds in college football and I’m excited to have him on my staff,” Durkin said in a statement. “He has a track record of being part of some of the most potent offenses in college football and he’s going to bring that exciting brand of football to Maryland.”

His Red Wolves ranked 47th nationally in yards per play, 36th in total offense and 14th in scoring this fall, helping Arkansas State finish 9-4 with a Sun Belt championship.

Prior to Arkansas State, Bell served as Eric Ebron‘s position coach at North Carolina, then as an offensive staff member on Larry Fedora‘s Southern Miss teams. He is a former Middle Tennessee wide receiver, earning his bachelor’s degree in 2005.

At Maryland, Bell will work to rehabilitate an offense that finished 95th nationally in scoring and 84th in yards per play in 2015.

Driskel’s 457 yards, Dixon’s four TDs power LaTech to dominating New Orleans Bowl win

NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 19:  Jeff Driskel #6 of the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs is pursued by Cody Brown #21 of the Arkansas State Red Wolves during the first quarter of the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 19, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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If you’re a Florida fan, and you’ve watched Louisiana Tech at all this season, you’ve probably wondered “where the hell was that?” when it came to Jeff Driskel‘s play. If you watched the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, you were probably in that very same choir singing from a strikingly similar hymnal.

Thanks to a heaping helping of Driskel — and a healthy dose of the record-setting Kenneth Dixon for good measure — Tech was able to pull away from Arkansas State in a dominant second half and secure a 47-28 win in the 15th R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl. The Bulldogs also won the Heart of Dallas Bowl last year, giving Tech back-to-back bowl wins for the first time in the program’s history.

It also served as an exorcising of demons of sorts for Driskel, whose last trip to the Superdome was a two-pick performance in a 10-point loss to Louisville in the Sugar Bowl following the 2012 season. This time around, Driskel, as he has been for most of this season, was superb, completing 26-of-37 passes for a career-high 457 yards and three touchdowns. Most impressively, especially considering the Red Wolves’ defense came into the game leading the country in interceptions, Driskel was turnover-free.

Driskel, a graduate transfer in his first year with the Bulldogs, salvaged not only his collegiate career in Ruston but also set himself up for a shot at being a mid-round NFL draft pick next April with his performance this season. In 13 games in 2015, Driskel threw for 300-plus yards eight times; in 29 career games with the Gators, he never hit that mark.

Not to be outdone, Driskel’s teammate left a record-setting mark in what has been a phenomenal and prolific under-the-radar career.

Dixon, a senior running back, accounted for four touchdowns on the day, two each rushing and receiving. That gives the Arkansas native 87 career touchdowns rushing and receiving, giving him — for the moment — the all-time FBS record. Whether that remains the all-time FBS record, though, is to be determined as Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds will enter the Midshipmen’s bowl game with 85 total touchdowns (all on the ground).

All told, Dixon accounted for 203 all-purpose yards — 112 receiving, 91 rushing.  That effort was a part of a Tech offensive explosion that gave the Bulldogs a whopping 673-323 advantage in total yards.

Both Tech and ASU finish their respective seasons at 9-4.  The Bulldogs have now won nine games in back-to-back seasons under Skip Holtz, while the Red Wolves have won 16 games in two seasons with Blake Anderson at the helm.

CFT Previews: Your Dec. 19 Bowl Viewer’s Guide

ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 25: head coach Trent Miles of the Georgia State Panthers walks on the sideliens in the second half against the Georgia Southern Eagles at the Georgia Dome on October 25, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)
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Taking a quick-hit look at the Dec. 19 bowl menu, which on “opening weekend” features five bowl games as the 2015 postseason officially kicks off.  Included in that quintet of contests is one bowl making its debut, another in just its second year as well as the holiest of Beehive State wars.

WHO: Arizona (6-6) vs. New Mexico (7-5)
WHAT: The 10th Gildan New Mexico Bowl
WHERE: University Stadium, Albuquerque, New Mexico
WHEN: 2 p.m. ET on ESPN
THE SKINNY: The uncertainty over the availability of Arizona starting quarterback Anu Solomon (concussion) has some sportsbooks, including the one we use for lines, Bovada.lv, taking the game off the board.  If Solomon is healthy, the Wildcats would likely be double-digit favorites; without him, one could make a very good case for the Lobos.  In fact, the Wildcats went 0-3 in games that Solomon either didn’t start or didn’t finish because of injury.  Even with Solomon on the field for most of the last five games, though, UA still lost four of those.  UNM, meanwhile, comes into its first bowl berth since 2007 on a high, finishing out the season with wins over bowl-bound Utah State (6-6), Boise State (8-4) and Mountain Division champion Air Force (8-5).  The combination of how both teams finished the season, the uncertainty over Solomon and ‘Zona likely feeling underwhelmed with its postseason lot has a very motivated Lobos squad primed for an upset.
THE LINE: Off the board
THE PREDICTION: New Mexico 33, Arizona 27

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WHO: BYU (9-3) vs. Utah (9-3)
WHAT: The 24th Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl
WHERE: Sam Boyd Stadium, Whitney, Nevada
WHEN: 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC
THE SKINNY: This promises to be one of the best “non-marquee” bowl games of the 2015-16 cycle because not only are both teams coming into it with nine wins but because of the whole “Holy War” aspect, and in Sin City no less.  The two football programs have been on a sabbatical the last two seasons in a rivalry that’s seen 89 previous matchups, but will resume in the regular season beginning next season and running through 2020.  The Utes have won four straight in the series and nine of the last 12 meetings dating back to 2002.  The Cougars’ situation is somewhat muddled as their long-time head coach, Bronco Mendenhall, has accepted the same job at Virginia but will coach his “former” team in the bowl game.  After beginning the season 6-0 and with playoff talk dancing in their heads, the Utes muddled through the remainder of the schedule at 3-3.  Here’s to guessing the Cougars, winners of seven of their last eight, add to their rival’s late-season misery and send their old coach with off with his first bowl win since 2012 — especially if words can be used as motivation.
THE LINE: BYU, +3
THE PREDICTION: BYU 27, Utah 23

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WHO: Ohio (8-4) vs. Appalachian State (10-2)
WHAT: The 2nd Raycom Media Camelia Bowl
WHERE: Cramton Bowl, Montgomery, Alabama
WHEN: 5:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
THE SKINNY: There were 21 teams that won 10 or more games during the 2015 regular/championship season; I’d bet you could make some pretty decent coin regarding Appalachian State’s inclusion in that select group.  And ASU’s two losses this year came against top-ranked Clemson in Death Valley and 2015 Sun Belt Conference champion Arkansas State.  Ohio University, not to be confused with Brady Hoke‘s derisive “Ohio” directed at Ohio State, had a near-perfect start to the season at 5-1, with the only loss coming by three at Minnesota… before they lost three in a row (two by a combined 66 points)… before they regrouped to win their last three by a combined 49 points.  The Bobcats are looking for their first bowl win since 2012, while the Mountaineers are playing in their first bowl game as an FBS program.  ASU is a touchdown favorite… and even that might be a little on the short side.
THE LINE: Ohio, +7½
THE PREDICTION: Appalachian State 45, Ohio 24

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WHO: San Jose State (5-7) vs. Georgia State (6-6)
WHAT: The 1st Cure Bowl
WHERE: Citrus Bowl, Orlando, Florida
WHEN: 7 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network
THE SKINNY: If you like underdog stories, tune into this one.  Georgia State went 3-29 from the beginning of the 2013 (first FBS season) through the eighth game of the 2015 season.  The Panthers then ripped off four straight wins — by double digits in each, no less — to close out the year and reach a level 6-6 to become bowl-eligible.  GSU’s Nick Arbuckle, one of the most prolific quarterbacks you’ve probably never heard of, is currently sixth in the country in passing yards with 4,160.  Its head coach, Trent Miles (pictured), will very likely be one of the hot names on the 2016 spinning of the coaching carousel.  As for San Jose State?  I have zero desire to discuss a sub-.500 team that doesn’t deserve a bowl bid.  And this isn’t to pick on the Spartans; rather, this will be a running theme throughout these types of posts when it comes to 5-7 teams getting an unwarranted and undeserved invitation to the postseason. [/steps off soapbox]
THE LINE: Georgia State, +3
THE PREDICTION: Georgia State 31, San Jose State 21

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WHO: Arkansas State (9-3) vs. Louisiana Tech (8-4)
WHAT: The 15th R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
WHERE: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana
WHEN: 9 p.m. ET on ESPN
THE SKINNY: Arkansas State lost its first two games of the 2015 season (USC, Missouri) then won nine of its last 10 to become the first team in Sun Belt history to go unblemished in conference play.  Louisiana Tech features the potent one-two punch of former Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel (14th nationally in passing yards with 3,575, 26th in pass efficiency) and touchdown machine Kenneth Dixon (83 career scores, tied for second all-time among FBS players).  One thing to keep in mind if you’re the wagering type when it comes to Driskel’s success through the air this season: the Red Wolves are currently 95th nationally against the pass, giving up an average of 251.9 yards per game; Driskel was held under that number just twice in 2015.  ASU did intercept 26 passes this season (No. 1 in the country), and Driskel tossed three in a season-ending loss to Southern Miss, so there is that if you’re on the Red Wolves side.
THE LINE: Arkansas State, +2
THE PREDICTION: Louisiana Tech 48, Arkansas State 45

Two Ark. St. players arrested on cocaine charges, suspended for bowl game

COLUMBIA, MO - SEPTEMBER 28:  Quarterback James Franklin #1 of the Missouri Tigers evades defensive end Chris Stone #42 of the Arkansas State Red Wolves during the game at Faurot Field/Memorial Stadium on September 28, 2013 in Columbia, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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An off-field incident will keep a pair of Arkansas State football players off the field for the Red Wolves this postseason.

In a press release, ASU announced that seniors Chris Stone (pictured) and Tyler Trosin have been suspended for the team’s New Orleans Bowl game against Louisiana Tech Dec. 19. According to the school, the duo was suspended because of a violation of unspecified team rules.

However, ArkansasOnline.com is reporting that Stone and Trosin were arrested early Tuesday morning and charged with possession of less than two grams of methamphetamine or cocaine. The players and another male were sitting in a vehicle when officers approached and smelled marijuana as well as observed “several open containers of alcohol.” The situation subsequently devolved from there.

From the online report:

During a search, the officer found a portion of a straw with white powder in Trosin’s pocket, as well as white powder on driver’s seat where Stone was sitting, the report said.

As the trio was booked and taken to Craighead County Detention Center, police found more baggies of drugs on each of the suspects, the report said.

Five baggies found on Fulcher contained a leafy green substance believed to be marijuana, according to the report, which said baggies found on Trosin and Stone field-tested positive for cocaine.

“Our football program has a high standard of conduct all our players are fully aware of, and not only expected to abide by, but also embrace,” said head coach Blake Anderson in a statement. “Our team is a family, and we have emphasized that while building a positive culture within our program. Sadly, two of our family members chose to go down a disappointing path that is highly unacceptable and won’t be tolerated by this team.

“Our players understand that unacceptable actions come with difficult consequences. Chris and Tyler will now have to face those consequences. Our team will use this as a teaching and learning opportunity, and we also wish Chris and Tyler only the best.”

As Stone and Tyler are seniors, they have played their last games as Red Wolves.

The loss of Stone for the bowl game will be by far the most impactful of the two. Stone started all 12 games this season at defensive end, and scored a pair of touchdowns on fumble recoveries.

Trosin, a wide receiver, caught eight passes for 113 yards this season.