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ASU gathers itself after Miami regret

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Photographs by AP/NATI HARNIK

Arkansas State quarterback Justice Hansen benefi ted from a week off that resulted from the cancellation of the Red Wolves’ game against No. 17 Miami on Saturday. Hansen still has a bruised

JONESBORO -- Two days after Arkansas State's home football game against No. 17 Miami would have been played, Red Wolves Coach Blake Anderson lamented the hurricane that has left nearly a third of Florida residents without power while also sucking some of the energy out of his team.

"As much as I wanted to play, I wanted to make sure we kept people in our thoughts and prayers with what they're going through," Anderson said in a room three floors above the field at Centennial Bank Stadium.

Anderson, ASU's fourth-year coach, said his players were "down initially" after the news broke Wednesday of the cancellation and that he thought the team's practice that day wasn't very good.

"You could tell they were still feeling the effects of it," he said.

One player who might have benefited from the week off is redshirt junior quarterback Justice Hansen.

For most of last week, Anderson said, Hansen was not throwing well because of shoulder bruising he sustained from getting knocked down against Nebraska, which may have made things difficult against a Miami defense that ranked No. 22 in the nation in sacks last season.

"His body was still beat up pretty good," Anderson said of Hansen, who has recovered and was throwing much better during Sunday's practice. "Now, he's tough and he wouldn't have told you. But you could tell that he was still sore."

Anderson said that senior running back Johnston White should "play a good bit" this week against the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff after missing the Nebraska game with a deep thigh bruise he sustained in preseason camp,

Senior running back Armond Weh-Weh "is structurally fine" from the ACL tear he suffered last season and the ankle injury from spring practice but "confidencewise, he just doesn't feel sturdy on it yet."

Senior defensive tackle Dee Liner (groin) is day to day and rotation cornerback, senior Brandon Byner, could miss 1-2 weeks with the hamstring tear that pulled him out of the Nebraska game.

Practice at Arkansas State University continued through the weekend, and Anderson said he watched a portion of Sun Belt Conference member South Alabama's 44-7 home loss to No. 9 Oklahoma State on Friday night.

ASU (0-1) and USA (0-2) would have both hosted Power 5 teams during the weekend, which would have met the goals for legitimacy Sun Belt commissioner Karl Benson laid out in July at the conference's media day.

Instead, the Red Wolves will only have its 43-36 loss at Nebraska (1-1) as its impression against a Power 5 team.

"That's what's most disappointing, is we could have beat Nebraska," Anderson said. "That's clear. We had every opportunity to do so. I think you'll look up at the end of the year and see that the league is still pretty good. And there's some guys that are playing good football and that it will be competitive. It's way too early to crown any league as to who is best and who's not. Look at the overall picture at the end of the year, and it will tell us what we need to. Hopefully we do our part on a weekly basis to show it's a really good football league."

Texas State (1-1) lost 37-3 at Colorado (2-0) on Saturday, which made the Sun Belt's record against Power 5 opponents 0-8 this season. The Power 5 opponents averaged 38 points in each of those games and the average win margin was 21.4 points.

"I think what that shows you is that it's hard to play defense in today's game," ASU defensive coordinator Joe Cauthen said. "It really is. I saw some of the guys in our league give up some points there, and I mean, it's tough. It's a hard thing. I can't concern myself with the other people; I can really just concern myself with us. But that is alarming to you. You look at that and you stand back and at some point, I'm saying, 'I'm glad I'm sitting here watching this and not being a part of that.' "

Cauthen said the defense finished off its preparation for Miami before switching focus to this weekend's opponent, UAPB, because future opponents will have similar players who can pull off the same play-action shots he expected to see from the Hurricanes.

Cauthen said he continued working with inexperienced defensive backs -- which include sophomore safeties B.J. Edmonds, Darreon Jackson and junior Michael Johnson -- on their discipline and communication in coverage.

"We'll be able to refer back to that," Cauthen said.

The Red Wolves defense face a UAPB offense that was held to 127 total yards in its 52-3 loss to Group of 5 opponent Akron (1-1) on Saturday.

In its opener, UAPB trailed NCAA Division II opponent Morehouse College 10-0 in the third quarter before the Golden Lions scored 23 unanswered points to win.

Cauthen said his focus will be to improve his defense with better communication and tackling angles -- factors that led to 17 missed tackles and 225 rushing yards given up against Nebraska

Arkansas State running back Johnston White (30) should return to action this week against UAPB, Coach Blake Anderson said Monday. White, a senior, mis...

At a glance

WHEN 6 p.m. Central, Saturday

WHERE Centennial Bank Stadium, Jonesboro

TV ESPN3

RADIO Red Wolves Sports Network including KFIN-FM 107.9 in Jonesboro; KAFN-FM 93.7 and KAFN-AM in Benton/ Little Rock; KDXE-FM 106.5 and KDXE-AM 1380 in North Little Rock; and KASR 92,7 in Conway; KUAP 89.7 in Pine Bluff INTERNET astateredwolves.com

2017 RECORDS ASU 0-1; UAPB 1-1

COACHES Blake Anderson (24-16 in fourth season at ASU and overall); Monte Coleman (39-63 in 10th season at UAPB and overall)

BETTING LINE No line

SERIES ASU leads 1-0

LAST MEETING ASU won 62-11 in 2013

"That's what hurt us," Cauthen said. "If we can get those two things shored up, we can be a better defense."

Sports on 09/12/2017

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