After wife's breast cancer surgery, ASU's Blake Anderson thankful, back to football

 Arkansas State Coach Blake Anderson is shown in this 2016 file photo.
Arkansas State Coach Blake Anderson is shown in this 2016 file photo.

JONESBORO -- Two days after his wife underwent successful breast cancer surgery, Arkansas State University Coach Blake Anderson dismissed his players after practice at Centennial Bank Stadium.

It was a return to routine after Anderson missed the first of the team's weekly news conferences Monday because he was with his wife, Wendy, at a hospital near Memphis.

Since then, nationwide support was voiced for the Andersons, including from Jeff Long, the athletic director at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, who tweeted "join me in wishing Wendy Anderson all the best in her battle with cancer!! Never Yield!!!" on Monday.

"It's been emotional," Blake Anderson said. "When you start going in for surgical procedures, number one, you just hate to deal with that, but it was what was necessary.

"The outpouring of support from not only the community here, but really across the country, has been overwhelming. We appreciate everybody. It's still a long road ahead of us, but we appreciate all the support we've got."

Among Anderson's decisions of the field before Saturday's 7 p.m. game at Nebraska is whether senior defensive tackle Dee Liner will play. The 6-3, 325-pound former Alabama transfer injured his groin during a noncontact drill Aug. 12.

"It's going to be a game-time decision," said Anderson, indicating he's 90 percent to 95 percent sure Liner will play a good bit. "He's gotten better every day. Physically, he did a lot more today than he did yesterday, and he hasn't had any setbacks. Every day we pushed him a little bit further, and he'd come back the next day and he's fine."

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Defensive coordinator Joe Cauthen said Monday that stopping Nebraska's run game will be a major factor, and Liner's size and experience would counter a larger Nebraska offensive line.

"He's a bigger guy than who we have now, but I have confidence in [6-2, 307-pound redshirt sophomore] Javier [Carbonell] and [6-2, 276-pound redshirt senior] Clifford Thomas," senior defensive end Ja'Von Rolland-Jones said. "Those guys have gotten better all camp. Those guys are swift, athletic, just like [Liner] is, but just not as big as him."

ASU released its first depth chart, which laid out a starting offensive line that Anderson said was fluid. At left tackle is senior graduate transfer Jaypee Philbert (6-5, 310 pounds); at left guard, redshirt sophomore Dalton Ford (6-4, 304 pounds); at center, redshirt freshman Jacob Still (6-1, 297 pounds); at right guard, sophomore Troy Elliott (6-5, 285 pounds); and at right tackle, junior Lanard Bonner (6-5, 310 pounds).

Elliott is the only player who has started for the Red Wolves -- two games last season -- but Anderson and offensive coordinator Buster Faulkner have repeatedly stated that Still was the only certain starter.

Redshirt junior quarterback Justice Hansen said Still has earned respect because of his consistency and work ethic.

"He has not missed a snap of football since he became the starting center," Anderson said. "He's not the most athletic guy up front; there are guys more athletic. He's not the most powerful; but he is the hardest working of anybody in our offense in terms of just the effort he brings every day. The dude loves the game, and it's hard not to like that."

Anderson doubts that running back Armond Weh-Weh will play Saturday because the ACL injury he suffered last season is still bothering him.

ASU will have a practice today at 4:20 p.m. and leave for Lincoln, Neb., on Friday at 11:40 a.m.

Up next

ARKANSAS STATE AT NEBRASKA WHEN 7 p.m. Central, Saturday WHERE Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, Neb. RECORDS Season opener for both teams TV Big Ten Network

Sports on 08/31/2017

Arkansas State Football Depth Chart


LEFT TACKLE;55, Jaypee Philbert (6‐5, 310, Sr., TR);73, Cameron Davis (6‐4, 309, So.‐R, 1L)

LEFT GUARD;75, Dalton Ford (6‐4, 304, So.‐R, 1L0;69, Marvis Brown (6‐3, 339, Jr., TR)

CENTER;64, Jacob Still (6‐1, 297, Fr., RS);68, Alex Novak (6‐3, 302, So.‐R, RS)

RIGHT GUARD;67, Troy Elliott (6‐5, 287, So., 1L);72, Jamal Fontenot (6‐4, 314, Jr.‐R, 1L)

RIGHT TACKLE;70, Lanard Bonner (6‐5, 310, Jr., RS);77, Jacob Atnip (6‐5, 310, Fr., RS)

QUARTERBACK;15, Justice Hansen (6‐4, 218, Jr.‐R, 1L);12, Logan Bonner (6‐1, 210, Fr., RS)

RUNNING BACK;6, Warren Wand (5‐5, 191, Jr., 2L);30, Johnston White (5‐11, 196, Sr.‐R, 3L)

A‐BACK;14, Chris Murray (5‐9, 195, Sr., 2L);13, Christian Booker (5‐11, 183, Sr., 1L)

TIGHT END;16, Blake Mack (6‐3, 229, Sr., 3L);88, Jonah Hill (6‐3, 238, Sr., 3L)

WR;18, Justin McInnis (6‐6, 210, Jr., 1L);7, Omar Bayless (6‐3, 206, So.‐R, 1L)

WR;84, Dijon Paschal (6‐1, 214, Sr.‐R, 3L);5, Kendrick Edwards (6‐5, 216, Jr., RS)


DEFENSIVE END;11, Ja’Von Rolland‐Jones (6‐2, 241, Sr.‐R, 3L);23, Ronheen Bingham (6‐2, 241, Jr., TR)

NOSE GUARD;91, Donovan Ransom (6‐1, 283, Jr., 2L);99, Tony Adams (6‐0, 336, Jr., TR)

DEFENSIVE TACKLE;25, Dee Liner (6‐3, 337, Sr.‐R, 1L);87, Javier Carbonell (6‐2, 307, So.‐R, 1L)

BANDIT;54, Caleb Caston (6‐2, 238, Sr., 3L);50, William Bradley‐King (6‐4, 250, Fr., RS)

WILL LB;26, Trent Ellis‐Brewer (6‐2, 213, So., 1L);22, Caleb Bonner (6‐1, 206, Fr., HS)

MIKE LB;15, Kyle Wilson (6‐0, 231, Sr., 1L);32, Tajhea Chambers (6‐2, 247, So.‐R, 1L)

NICKELBACK;10, Justin Clifton (6‐0, 204, Jr., 2L);20, Larry Wooden (6‐0, 202, Fr., HS)

CORNERBACK;1, Blaise Taylor (5‐9, 166, Sr., 3L);24, Jeremy Smith (5‐11, 175, So., 1L)

STRONG SAFETY;3, B.J. Edmonds (6‐0, 206, So., 1L);6, Jeremie Gibson (6‐4, 197, Jr., TR)

FREE SAFETY;34, Darreon Jackson (6‐0, 204, So., TR);4, Michael Johnson (6‐1, 200, Jr. TR)

CORNERBACK;2, Nehemia Wagner (6‐0, 178, Sr., 3L);28, Brandon Byner (5‐11, 177, Sr., 3L)


PLACEKICKER;38, Sawyer Williams (5‐11, 202, So.‐R, 1L);25, Blake Grupe (5‐8, 140, Fr., HS)

PUNTER;41, Cody Grace (6‐2, 223, So.‐R, HS) or 99, Damon Foncham (5‐8, 196, So.‐R, 1L)

KICKOFF RETURN;8, Chauncey Mason (5‐9, 185, So.‐R, 1L);14, Chris Murray (5‐9, 195, Sr., 2L)

PUNT RETURN;1, Blaise Taylor (5‐9, 166, Sr., 3L);14, Chris Murray (5‐9, 195, Sr., 2L)

DEEP SNAPPER;42, Seth Cottengim (6‐0, 213, Fr.‐R, HS);47, Ty Mimbs (6‐1, 226, So.‐R, SQ)

HOLDER;99, Damon Foncham (5‐8, 196, Fr.‐R, RS) or 10, Carson Coats (6‐1, 198, So.‐R, SQ)

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