JONESBORO -- Blake Anderson will hold his first fall practice as Arkansas State's head football coach at 8:35 a.m. today, and it'll be different than any start to a season he's had in a two-decade coaching career.
Anderson has been an offensive coordinator for the past eight seasons, calling plays at Middle Tennessee, Louisiana-Lafayette, Southern Miss and North Carolina before being hired to replace Bryan Harsin in December.
This year, though, he isn't calling offensive plays. He has relinquished several duties for the first time to his coordinators and assistant coaches. Offensive coordinator Walt Bell will call plays, and defensive coordinator Joe Cauthen will have authority over almost every defensive decision.
"It's not that I don't like calling plays. I love calling plays," Anderson said. "I think I do a better job as a head coach managing the team and getting the attitude and the effort level and environment staying away from that role."
Cauthen said Wednesday that he's appreciative of Anderson's hands-off approach.
"He brought us in to do a job," Cauthen said."Walt is the head coach of the offense, I'm the head coach of the defense, and Blake is the head coach of Arkansas State. We've just got to make sure we take care of our business."
Not that Anderson would have much to say about the defense anyway. He said he's comfortable so far in his role as an overseer of the program.
"I'm not a defensive expert. I hired a guy that I think is really good and I trust," Anderson said. "My role is to always coach attitude and effort, and I don't have to know anything about defense to do that."
Linebacker A.J. Turner wasn't made available for interviews during ASU's media day Wednesday as he tries to gain academic eligibility for his junior season.
Turner transferred to ASU in January after spending the past two seasons at Arkansas, where he started six games and was named to the SEC's all-freshman team in 2012.
He received a waiver from the NCAA to bypass a transfer rule that requires players to sit out one season if they transfer from one FBS program to another, but ASU Coach Blake Anderson said last week that Turner's performance in two classes this summer will determine if he's academically eligible.
ASU likely won't know until summer classes end Aug. 6, but defensive coordinator Joe Cauthen said he expects Turner to be available.
"I'm going into it as if we are," Cauthen said. "If we don't, then I'll adjust."
Arkansas State players trickled in and out of the ASU Football Facility on Wednesday wearing new Adidas black jerseys.
They look much like last year's, except the claw marks on the sleeves are gone and the numerals are white instead of red.
Cornerback Rocky Hayes said he liked the new look, adding there are new red jerseys, too, but fans won't be seeing the gray jerseys that caused such a stir last year. ASU was penalized twice in a loss to Auburn last year for wearing the gray jerseys. Officials ruled that the jerseys violated an NCAA rule that prohibits both teams from wearing noncontrasting jerseys.
ASU also wore them in a home loss to Louisiana-Lafayette.
"We got [losses] in them both times we wore them, so I don't think we're going to be rocking the gray too much," Hayes said. "We'll stay away from them."
New face up front
Arkansas State won't have two-year starting center Bryce Giddens when practice begins today, but Coach Blake Anderson announced an addition that could help fill the void.
Anderson said Wednesday that center Jonathan Hamilton has transferred to ASU from Riverside (Calif.) City College and is expected to compete for the starting job with senior Tyler Greve.
The school announced earlier this month that Giddens was ending his playing career because of injuries. Giddens missed most of spring practice with concussions.
Anderson said Hamilton had committed previously to an NCAA Football Championship Subdivision program but had not yet signed a letter of intent.
"He'll be a guy that we need to throw in the mix," Anderson said. "If he's not the starting center, he needs to be the backup center."
Sports on 07/31/2014
Print Headline: Anderson delegating authority