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Malzahn Leads Red Wolves Through First Practice
Mar 14, 2012

The Arkansas State University football team took the field in shorts and helmets early Wednesday morning for their first practice with Coach Gus Malzahn at the helm.

The opening practice of the 2012 spring camp got under way at 7:30 a.m., marking the first time the team has been on the field since appearing in the GoDaddy.com Bowl on Jan. 8. It was the first of 15 practices for the Red Wolves that will take place during the next five weeks.

The opening practice was also the first opportunity for the staff and media to see returning players, new recruits and transfers, a mix that now includes All-SEC running back Michael Dyer, practice at ASU Stadium. Dyer, who transferred from Auburn to ASU in January, ran plays with the Red Wolves’ offense but his eligibility for the upcoming season is still unknown.

“The first practice was good – the guys were flying around,” Malzahn said in a press release. “We’re just trying to get these guys to understand the tempo and the attention to detail, and they responded well for the first day. They’ve got the right attitude.”

The Red Wolves will implement their base offense and defense under new offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee and defensive coordinator John Thompson.

“Our goal is to install the foundation points of the offense and defense,” said Malzahn. “That’s what we’re going to do, even if we have to go back and start over – the foundation of who you are is developed in the spring.”

Over the course of the next few weeks, Malzahn said picking up the tempo will be a team priority.

“Right now, we are just keeping it very basic and will set up the finer details like techniques and coverages as we go along. The main thing is setting the practice tempo. We weren’t close today – they went about half the speed that we need to be going.”

The ASU offense returns four starters, led by senior quarterback and 2011 Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year Ryan Aplin. Defensively, the Red Wolves return four starters, including All-Sun Belt Conference linebacker Nathan Herrold, from a unit that ranked 24th in the nation in total defense. “Ryan (Aplin) is one of our leaders – you can tell he stands out with his leadership and the way people on both sides of ball respond to him,” Malzahn said.

The Red Wolves will practice again Friday morning, but won’t return on the field again until March 26 following ASU’s spring break.

“Corrections from today and Friday will be what we focus on heading into spring break,” said Malzahn. “The fun part of coaching is watching the players respond in practice. We learned more in three hours today than in probably the last three months.”

Season tickets for ASU’s 2012 campaign are currently on sale at the ASU Ticket Office. The ticket office can be contacted at 870-972-ASU1, or tickets can be purchased online through A-State’s official athletic Web site AStateRedWolves.com.

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