Arkansas State University's beat-up defense took another hit on Monday when Coach Blake Anderson announced that sophomore defensive tackle Thomas Toki will miss the rest of the season after suffering a torn ACL during the Red Wolves' 48-41 victory at Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday afternoon.
It's the fourth season-ending injury to ASU's interior defensive line this season.
Junior Forrest Merrill (torn bicep), sophomore Hunter Moreton (shoulder) and senior Tony Adams (broken foot) are already out for the season. Senior Kevin Thurmon broke his hand and missed two games earlier this season but has since returned and played in each of the past three games.
Junior cornerback Jerry Jacobs also was lost for the season with a torn ACL in Week 3 against Georgia.
Following his Monday appearance in front of the Little Rock Touchdown Club downtown at the DoubleTree Hotel, Anderson also said that senior safety B.J. Edmonds, senior defensive tackle Javier Carbonell, sophomore defensive tackle Terry Hampton and junior defensive tackle Tukua Ahoia are all banged up.
"All those guys being at 100 percent down the stretch would make, I think, a significant impact on our defense," Anderson said.
The Red Wolves are hoping to get as many players as they can healthy this week during their bye. ASU (5-4, 3-2 Sun Belt Conference) hosts Coastal Carolina (4-4, 1-3) on Nov. 16 before closing the season at home against Georgia Southern (5-3, 3-1) on Nov. 23 and at South Alabama (1-7, 0-4) on Nov. 29.
Blake Anderson also revealed Monday that ASU's kicking position has been hit with multiple injuries.
Sophomore placekicker Blake Grupe and senior Damon Foncham each played through injuries during Saturday's victory in Monroe, La., according to Anderson.
Anderson said Grupe was dealing with an injury to his hamstring, which the sophomore pulled during the week leading up to the game aggravated "pretty badly" during pregame warmups.
"Just kind of had to battle through pain and discomfort to get through the game, and he did a great job of that," Anderson said. "The wind was whipping a little bit as well. I thought he maneuvered that and played really well. Fought through pain to get it done. You could see on his face that he wasn't well. We're hoping that through the course of the open week, we can get that taken care of so he can finish up well over the last three [games]."
Anderson said Foncham, who handled kickoffs, was dealing with a swollen knee and even had to have it drained prior to kickoff.
"Both those guys, every kick they made was painful," Anderson said.
Freshman Tristan Mattson, who had handled kickoffs for ASU this season, is also battling mononucleosis and is out for a month, Anderson said.
"This week comes at a good time," Anderson said of ASU's bye. "We've got to try to get healthy."
Sun Belt awards
The Red Wolves had two players earn Sun Belt Player of the Week honors Monday.
Senior defensive back Darreon Jackson was named the league's defensive player of the week, and Grupe was named the special teams player of the week.
In the victory over Louisiana-Monroe, Jackson finished with a game-high and career-high 17 tackles, including 1.5 tackles for loss.
Blake Anderson noted Monday during the Sun Belt coaches teleconference how Jackson's role has changed ever since the Red Wolves' defense switched from a four-man front to a three-man front a few weeks ago, thus putting a sixth defensive back on the field.
"He's in a position now to cancel out a lot of mistakes that could potentially happen in front of him, or really just kind of be an additional gap player," Anderson said. "We've asked a lot of him, and he's done a great job stepping in and getting people on the ground. The move was necessary defensively to change the scheme, and having a guy that can tackle like he does and loves to be around the ball, that makes it possible."
Grupe, meanwhile, hit 2 of 2 field goal attempts -- one from 43 yards and the second from 31. Grupe is 13 of 14 on the season for a percentage of 92.9, which is the best in the Sun Belt. His longest field goal this year is from 46 yards.
Nathan Page remains suspended from the Red Wolves after the sophomore cornerback was arrested last Wednesday in Jonesboro and charged with third-degree domestic battery of a pregnant person.
When asked Monday after his appearance in front of the Little Rock Touchdown Club if he expected Page back this season, Blake Anderson was noncommittal.
"See how it goes. Right now, don't really have [any] expectations at all," Anderson said.
On Saturday against Louisiana-Monroe, freshman Jarius Reimonenq made the first start of his career in Page's place.
Reimonenq, a native of Hattiesburg, Miss., finished with 5 total tackles and 2 pass breakups.
"I thought he got better and better as the game went on," Anderson said. "Had a couple mistakes early, which are kind of part of throwing a freshman out there. ... He grew up a good bit throughout the course of that game. He's going to get better and better each game because of it."
Sports on 11/06/2019
Print Headline: Toki next to be out rest of '19