JONESBORO -- There was some question of whether Arkansas State University fans would see junior quarterback Logan Bonner suit up for Saturday's spring game at Centennial Bank Stadium.
Bonner had the answer.
"He was determined he was going to play today," offensive coordinator Keith Heckendorf said. "Nothing was going to stop him from doing that. When you've got guys who love the game and want to be out there with their teammates and will lay it on the line, it's going to give you a chance to be successful when you play on Saturdays."
Bonner completed 12 of 20 passes for 130 yards and 2 touchdowns after missing action for more than a week because of a strained muscle.
"I'm just trying to set the pace for this group," said Bonner, who played in five games last fall behind all-conference quarterback Justice Hansen. "That's what I've always wanted to do. It's a little different now that guys are looking to me, but I love it. That's why I stayed here."
"I didn't know he would go today until [Friday]," Heckendorf said. "It's been a day-to-day deal, and we've been trying to get a feel for where he's at. There's not a kid on this team that cares more than Logan Bonner.
"From the minute he's had that little tweak, he's been living in that training room, doing everything he can because he doesn't want to miss. He wants to be out there. He wants to be out there with his teammates. He wants to continue to keep growing and learning and you love that about him. It's important to him. This team is important to him. And that will serve us well going forward."
Earning his number
Junior defensive end Aaron Donkor earned plenty of praise -- and a number -- Saturday.
"He went without a number all spring," Arkansas State Coach Blake Anderson said. "He was an easy guy to find. He was the only guy wearing all black."
While wearing the number he wanted Saturday -- 55 -- Donkor made an impact, coming up with 3 tackles, 2 tackles for losses, both on sacks.
"They called his number a lot today, and that's what we expected," Anderson said. "The improvement he's made from Day One to now is huge, considering he did not have a tremendous football background."
Donkor, whose hometown is Aachen, Germany, played last season at the New Mexico Military Institute.
"I came in here with an open mind and made adjustments," Donkor said. "I feel I've done all right, but I want to continue to get better."
The Red Wolves apparently will have plenty of running backs to choose from this fall. While three of the team's top four rushers from last season have run out of eligibility, six running backs combined for 25 carries Saturday.
"We didn't ask much of them today," Coach Blake Anderson said. "There wasn't a lot of reps, and we played everybody, but they all had positive snaps."
Senior Jamal Jones saw the bulk of the action, running nine times for 32 yards.
"We've got a lot of new backs and felt we all did more than what was expected," sophomore Marcel Murray said. "It's all about competition. It makes me better and everyone else better."
Murray ran 154 times for a team-high 874 yards in 2018. He scored a team-best eight rushing TDs.
"We're deep, and I feel like we can all contribute in different ways," said redshirt freshman Donovan Marshall, who capped a 13-play Red Wolves' drive with a 2-yard TD run.
"That was a long one," said Marshall of the play-consuming possession. "But when you play no huddle, it goes by pretty fast. It takes a lot of conditioning and working together to try to find the end zone."
An injury in the 2018 season opener against Southeast Missouri State cut Dahu Green's season short.
Green caught only two passes for 20 yards in Saturday's scrimmage, but Coach Blake Anderson was happy with what he saw from the senior.
"He does have a different gear to go along with his size and ability to run," Anderson said. "The guy just loves to play."
Green, 6-5, 197, originally signed with Oklahoma before transferring to Arkansas State.
Although the offense won the spring game, the Red Wolves' defense made the biggest impact early.
The defense made nine sacks and had 13 plays where they stopped an offensive player behind the line of scrimmage.
"I think we came out with a lot of energy," junior linebacker Tajhea Chambers said. "That's the one thing we harped on the last couple of weeks."
Chambers made 79 tackles in 2018. He had two tackles in Saturday's scrimmage.
"Tajhea took on a leadership role this spring and I'm happy with that," defensive coordinator Sean Coughlin said.
"I thought the defense responded well from last week," Coach Blake Anderson said. "Last Friday they struggled and did not have a great day. They came out today and set the tempo. They played well and they made it tough for the offense to move the football."
Chambers said the Red Wolves' defense is accustomed to playing at the offense's rapid pace.
"From the first play to the last, it's all about tempo," Chambers said. "We want to match the offense's tempo."
ASU 2019 schedule
NOTE TImes and television broadcasts have not been announced
Aug. 31 SMU
Sept. 7 at UNLV
Sept. 14 at Georgia
Sept. 21 S. Illinois
Sept. 28 at Troy*
Oct. 5 at Georgia State*
Oct. 17 La.-Lafayette*
Oct. 26 Texas State*
Nov. 2 at La.-Monroe*
Nov. 16 Coastal Carolina*
Nov. 23 Georgia Southern*
Nov. 29 at South Alabama*
*Sun Belt game
Sports on 04/21/2019
Print Headline: Bonner takes field after injury