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August 15, 2011

Red Wolves return to practice field

JONESBORO, Ark. (8/15/2011) - Following the first day off of their 2011 fall camp, the Arkansas State Red Wolves returned to the practice field Monday, taking the field twice in preparation for the upcoming season.

A-State got the day started in cool temperatures with a morning workout that began with the kicking game. The Red Wolves focused on placekicking in the first two periods before switching to the punting game later in the session.

"There was a little chill in the air this morning," said ASU head coach Hugh Freeze. "It felt great and the guys came out with a little pep in their step. I thought we had a great morning. I think they are going to feed off of our coaching staff, and we talk daily about handling adversity, the things we learn from it, what our demeanor should be and that our confidence cannot be shaken."

"I think this whole week is important," Freeze continued. "We will back off of the full-contact stuff after this week, but we cannot waste practices this week. Obviously the day off yesterday helps. Anyone that goes through a solid week, not only the on-the-field stuff, but the weights and the meeting times, they're not accustomed to that. So any time we can have a day off, it's beneficial to us."

Following the kicking game drills, the team shifted into red zone work during the final periods, with junior tight end Andre Smith and freshman wide receiver Kyle Coleman both seeing time at quarterback following the loss of sophomore backup quarterback Phillip Butterfield to a season-ending injury during Saturday's scrimmage.

"Andre Smith was a little rusty, but he's been at tight end and been in there battling," said Freeze. "He did make some good throws at times, so we are going to keep working with him and see how far he can come, along with Stephen Hogan and Darion Griswold. Stephen is missing some things that a freshman will miss, but he's going to be a good one. We will prepare a package for Kyle Coleman at quarterback as well. I don't know what that is, but we will line four or five guys up back there to try and take some hits off of Ryan Aplin. We will give them all a package that they feel good about and try to be diverse with multiple people."

The afternoon practice began with more work on the punting game, with punt returns added to the schedule, followed by individual position work. The Red Wolves also went through team offense vs. team defense drills before closing the practice with more red zone work.

In the final red zone portion of the practice, the offense scored on seven of eight possessions. Running back Jermaine Robertson put the first-teamers into the end zone when he scored on a 10-yard run on the first play of the possession, and Smith hooked up with wideout Joshua Jarboe from 10 yards out to score for the second unit. The defense came through on the third possession when defensive end Shervarius Jackson recovered a fumble, and running back Sherodrick Smith scored on a 10-yard run for the third unit.

The next three possessions all began at the 20-yard line and all resulted in field goals. Sophomore kicker Bobby Zalud booted field goals from 39 and 40 yards, while sophomore Brian Davis was good on a 36-yard attempt. On the final drive of the scrimmage, Robertson capped a 20-yard drive when he bulled over from a yard out to score for the second unit.

"We kind of schemed them a little bit," said Freeze following the afternoon practice. "It was time for the offense to have some success and we spent a little time this afternoon getting ready for that. Hopefully that is what will happen when we game-plan."

"I thought Frankie Jackson and Robertson had some nice runs," Freeze added. "Jarboe made a nice catch on a nice throw from Andre Smith. I thought it was very competitive and I thought our field goal unit was very sharp."

"In both practices, their attitude and effort was really good and I couldn't be more pleased," Freeze continued. "The defense dominated one team period and the offense bounced back and won the red zone. But that is the way we have to be; we have to go back-and-forth."

The Red Wolves will be back on the practice field Tuesday at 9:00 a.m., then travel to Memphis to visit Le Bonheur Children's Hospital.

Season tickets for the Red Wolves' 2011 campaign, which includes six home games, are on sale and can be ordered by contacting the ASU Box Office at 870-972-ASU1 or 1-888-ASU-FANS, or by visiting AStateRedWolves.com. The Red Wolves open the season Sept. 3 at Illinois, with the home opener set for Sept. 10 against Memphis.

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