Thompson Looking For 'Bite' As Red Wolves Don Pads For The First Time In Spring

by Chris Bahn  on Tuesday, Mar. 27, 2012 1:14 pm  

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Arkansas State defensive coordinator John Thompson likes what he’s seen from his defensive players so far.

Through two spring practices he’s seen the desired effort. Thompson likes the tempo the defensive players have brought to the field.

But Wednesday, when the Red Wolves put on pads for the first time this spring, is when Thompson can truly begin evaluating what he has. Only then will Thompson be able to tell, as he puts it, who can really “bite.”

“You want to find out, if they’re kind of like that dog that barks, when it’s got a chain around its neck,” Thompson told reporters in Jonesboro. “We’ll take that chain off and see if [the dog] will go under the porch or go and bite.”

Arkansas State returns five defensive players that started at least one game last season. Defensive back Don Jones (10 starts) and defensive lineman Ryan Carrethers (6) have the most experience of the returning players.

Finding replacements for mainstays like defensive end Brandon Joiner, the Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year, linebacker Demario Davis and safety Kelcie McCray is a focal point this spring. ASU signed a number of defensive players as part of its 2012 recruiting class, but Thompson is hopeful help can be found among those currently going through spring drills.

“A lot of these guys haven’t been ‘the guy,’ " Thompson said. “Now they’re ‘the guy.’ Now they’ve got to step up.”

Thompson, a veteran defensive coach, has been in Jonesboro just a little over a month and is the third defensive coordinator for returning players since last season. Thompson took over when Keith Patterson left for West Virginia, but the transition hasn’t been too much for players to handle.

Former defensive coordinator Dave Wommack, who left for Ole Miss with Hugh Freeze at the end of 2011, and Thompson have similar backgrounds and coaching philosophies. Even terminology is the same in some cases.

“It’s very similar,” Carrethers told reporters. “Because of that we’ll be able to learn and catch on pretty quick.”

Carrethers said the defense is anxious to show Thompson what they can do when they put on pads. Coach Gus Malzahn said that’s when coaches can really make evaluations and get closer to putting together a spring depth chart.

“We want to see who will lay the wood out there, who has got guts, who has got courage,” Malzahn said Monday. “The fun stuff is starting now.”


[Full interviews with Malzahn, Carrethers and Thompson can be found on]



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