Arkansas State modernized its press box and expanded its stadium this past offseason.
ASU.edu: A-State Athletics Announces Largest Personal Gift Commitment in its History, Recognizes Allison Family
AStateRedWolves.com: FACILITIES - Centennial Bank Stadium
Arkansas Online: Centennial celebration
Mohajir considered offers from Kansas City, Mo., and St. Louis to move the game. The best offer came from the St. Louis Sports Commission, which according to a source offered between $1.5 million and $2 million to move the game to Busch Stadium.
Mohajir declined St. Louis’ offer last August, announcing it officially when Allison gave his donation. Ground was broken less than two months later on the press box, and ASU fans will christen the renovations Saturday with a high-profile opponent in town.
"That should be thrilling for our fans and thrilling for the state," Mohajir said. "It should be thrilling for economic revenue, for people coming into town."
So what about the team that will be playing at Centennial Bank Stadium this year?
Five players who started on defense against USC weren’t with the program last season. Defensive tackle Waylon Roberson and safeties Cody Brown and Bo Sentimore are junior-college transfers. Linebacker Tajhea Chambers is a freshman. Defensive tackle Robert Mondie is a transfer from UAB.
Anderson’s hope was that all the turnover would yield a positive change for the defense.
"We didn't stop anybody a year ago," the coach told reporters during his news conference last week. "So, in that sense, if I had to go out there with the same guys and not have addressed our issues, that would be terrifying."
"It’s a big deal," said Knighten, the Sun Belt’s preseason all-conference quarterback. "It’s the home opener. It’s supposed to be the largest crowd in A-state history. We’re trying to break some attendance records, and it’s pretty awesome to have a top 25 team, an SEC-caliber team come to our place." [...]
Knighten came to Jonesboro from Pulaski Academy, a high school team in Little Rock known for coach Kevin Kelley’s unorthodox but effective measures. He doesn’t punt and almost always attempts onside kickoffs, knowing the mathematical odds favor his team’s field position and chances to gain more possessions, thus more chances to score. Knighten’s senior year, Pulaski punted just once and won a state championship. Knighten threw for 4,557 yards and 66 touchdowns and ran for 840 yards and 15 scores.
All those yards produced just a couple scholarship offers for the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year — none from the major conferences, not for a 5-foot-11 quarterback.
And the team ASU will be hosting?
"I thought I did well. I did well. My first pass was a little shaky. Obviously I was a little nervous. But the sack is one thing I need to work on," Lock said when asked to self-evaluate. "That was a big main focus point in camp. I need to get the ball out faster."
The crowning moment of Lock's day was a broken play on which he scrambled and found a wide open Tyler Hunt for a 78-yard touchdown.
"He was real excited about that first touchdown. I told him he will never have a guy that wide open again in the history of college football. Won't happen. But certainly he made a great throw to get it there in a kind of awkward situation," Pinkel said. "As long as he practices well and produces when he goes in then we'll continue to (play him)."