By David Brandt
The Associated Press
MOBILE, Ala. — Arkansas State keeps winning football games no matter who is on the sideline.
The Red Wolves (7-5) have become a regular at the GoDaddy Bowl, returning to Mobile for a third straight season. They will face Ball State (10-2) tonight at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.
Arkansas State has enjoyed its run of success despite constant change on the coaching staff. The Red Wolves have had four head coaches over the past four seasons and a fifth — former North Carolina offensive coordinator Blake Anderson — is set to take over after today’s game. Previous coach Bryan Harsin left the program for Boise State in December.
Fifth-year senior Ryan Carrethers has seen all of the coaches come and go. He concedes the turnover isn’t ideal, but it’s also taught the Red Wolves resiliency.
“We’ve learned over the past few years that we can always count on each other,” Carrethers said. “That’s a big reason we’ve been able to get so many victories.”
Compared to the Red Wolves, Ball State is a model of consistency. Third-year coach Pete Lembo has led the Cardinals to just their third 10-win season in program history.
Ball State is especially potent in the passing game. Arkansas State will counter with a strong defensive line, including the 6-foot-2, 330-pound Carrethers, who has four sacks this season.
Ball State hopes its defense can provide a few big plays, too. The Cardinals rank seventh in the country with 30 takeaways.
“That’s one of the big statistical factors going into this game,” Lembo said. “Arkansas State does a great job taking care of the ball and we’ve been good at causing turnovers. Something’s got to give on Sunday.”
More change at ASU: Arkansas State is in the midst of yet another coaching change — the program’s fourth in four offseasons. The Red Wolves have handled the transition well each time and interim coach John Thompson also coached the team last year in Mobile when it beat Kent State. Thompson expects a similar effort today.
Cold in Mobile: Mobile’s Ladd-Peebles Stadium might be close to the Gulf of Mexico, but there’s not going to be a tropical vibe today.
The weather is expected to be chilly, possibly even falling into the 20s by game time. The cold weather could be especially tough on Ball State’s productive passing offense.
Arkansas State’s big men: Arkansas State’s defensive line will be trying to get pressure on Ball State QB Keith Wenning, who has thrown for nearly 3,933 yards and 34 touchdowns this season. Red Wolves DT Ryan Carrethers has 87 tackles, which ranks third in the country among interior defensive linemen.
Breaking news, severe weather alerts, AMBER alerts, sports scores from The Norman Transcript are available as text messages right to your phone or mobile device. You decide which type of alerts you want to receive. Find out more or to signup, click here.