Getting Arkansas State ready for its next task at hand is in progress.
The Red Wolves returned to the practice field here Saturday for their second bowl prep practice for the GoDaddy.com Bowl that will be held in Mobile on January 6.
Interim Head Football Coach for the bowl and retained Defensive Coordinator John Thompson was pleased with the Red Wolves efforts.
“We had our second day of great excitement and high energy,” Thompson told AStateNation.com. “We got better today than we were yesterday. We had two good days of work back to back.”
Thompson has two very daunting task ahead in the next seven days preparing his ASU team to face perhaps the third best team they have faced all season.
“The biggest thing is it has been 30 days since we played a game,” Thompson said. “We have to get our rhythm and timing back, we need everyone to back to playing crisp like we were at the end of the season.”
Thompson admitted that No. 25 Kent State also provides a big test.
“They are a very talented football team,” Thompson said. “Their right tackle is the best offensive lineman we have faced all year, including Oregon and Nebraska. They have a very solid offensive line overall, they are by far the third best team we have faced all season.”
Thompson plans on making sure his team focuses on several things in their next few practices.
“We have to focus on eliminating penalties and turnovers,” Thompson said. “We will have officials out at practices the next few days to help in that matter. We have to emphasize ball security on both sides of the football. Protecting it on offense and work on stripping it on the defensive side.”
Thompson has also put a major emphasize on working on special teams on a daily basis.
“We have worked on special team stuff at least two to three periods each practice,” Thompson said. “If you have watched any bowl games so far this season, there have been a few special team mistakes that have hurt some teams.”
Thompson feels that the coaching changes at the end of the season won’t be an issue in this year’s bowl game.
“We have our entire offensive staff here,” Thompson said. “Rhett (Lashlee) will be making the game plan and calls during the game, the only one we are missing is Coach Malzahn. We shouldn’t miss a beat, all of the coaches have brought their A game every day and working hard to make sure that we finish what we started this season. We want to send out this great group of seniors out in the right way.”
Thompson ran his team through a more physical practice on Saturday.
“It was the first time we went full pads,” Thompson said. “We were a little more physical today. We will go full pads again Sunday, we will emphasize situational work the next couple of practices. We will put our guys in some game like situations, to sharpen up a few areas.”
Thompson ended Saturday’s practice with the offense going against the defense with the winner getting to call out the other group’s 25 updowns.
“It was a lot of fun out there,” Thompson said. “Being a defensive guy all season it was tough to see my guys get beat by the offense and the defense having to pay the price, but it was a great way to end another great practice.”
Stay tuned for daily practice reports, feature stories and video interviews from AStateNation.com.
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