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story.lead_photo.caption Kevin Thurmon

JONESBORO -- Arkansas State University senior defensive tackle Kevin Thurmon saw his first action in nearly a month during last Thursday's 37-20 home loss to Louisiana-Lafayette.

Thurmon, who suffered a broken left hand against Southern Illinois on Sept. 21, had to miss two games. In his return to playing, he's had to wear a large protective cast on his surgically repaired hand, thus limiting some of what he can do on the defensive line.

After Wednesday's practice, Thurmon said the adjustment to playing with his injured hand has gone about as smoothly as possible.

"It's been feeling good," Thurmon said. "I played a whole game with it and I felt good. Practicing now, I don't feel [anything]."

Thurmon finished the Louisiana-Lafayette game with seven total tackles, including six solo. He said he surprisingly hasn't experienced any discomfort or pain.

"Honestly in the first game, I thought I was probably gonna feel something, but I honestly didn't feel anything," Thurmon said. "I guess because the plate that they put in it, it made me not feel [anything] in my hand, so my hand [is] kind of hard. I think I'm good."

Of course, with his hand in a cast, there are limitations Thurmon is having to overcome.

It's harder to tackle because he can't grab with his left hand. He also noted that he has to line up on the left side of the defensive line, which allows for him to take a three-point stance with his fully functional right hand and lead with that hand when attacking offensive linemen. His cast has been curved so he can strike better with it.

"I still think he's getting used to what that feels like and the inability to grab a cloth and pull with that hand," ASU Coach Blake Anderson said. "But he was still effective at times with that. We're glad to have him back."

Even though he's not 100 percent, Thurmon is just happy to be back on the field more than anything. The Red Wolves lost Thurmon's counterpart, junior nose tackle Forrest Merrill, for the season with a torn bicep following the 50-43 victory over Troy on Sept. 28.

Thurmon admitted Wednesday that Merrill's injury played a big factor in him rushing to get back on the field.

"I felt like I needed to come back," Thurmon said. "I added extra days on my [physical therapy] days so I can work my hand some more and get my hand back right. [The doctor] said I was way ahead so I was like, I'm ready. I went to the doctor, they X-rayed my hand, they said I was good. When they said I was good, I was perfectly fine. I was ready to play."

CB depth

ASU's cornerback depth took another major hit this week when Anderson announced Monday that junior Demari Medley had been dismissed from the team.

With the loss of Medley, and season-ending injuries already to junior starter Jerry Jacobs in Week 3 and redshirt freshman Jevon Jones in the spring, the Red Wolves are very limited at cornerback behind starters Jeremy Smith, a senior, and Nathan Page, a sophomore.

Page has already been starting in place of Jacobs, who tore his ACL against Georgia on Sept. 14.

Freshman Jarius Reimonenq would be the next option behind Smith or Page. Emergency options behind Reimonenq are freshman Samy Johnson, a converted running back, and redshirt junior walk-on Colby Sigears.

Anderson was asked Wednesday how comfortable he'd be with depending on the likes of Reimonenq, Johnson or Sigears should the situation ever arise.

"Well that's a trick question. You know that," Anderson said with grin. "They're young guys. We're gonna deal with some mistakes. But I want guys that are bought in, that are truly all in. We'll deal with some of the mistakes. We'll try to hide them if we can, protect them when we can. But ultimately they got to learn from what we're doing in practice and go out and give us some good snaps when need be."

New Texas State QB

Texas State Coach Jake Spavital announced Tuesday that the Bobcats will start their backup quarterback, sophomore Tyler Vitt, on Saturday night against the Red Wolves, as junior starter Gresch Jensen remains in concussion protocol after being knocked out against Louisiana-Monroe on Oct. 10.

ASU and Texas State kick off at 6 p.m. Saturday in Jonesboro.

Vitt has seen action in three games this season, completing 15 of 26 passes for 163 yards, 2 touchdowns and 3 interceptions.

Anderson said he doesn't expect much of a difference with Vitt leading Texas State's offense on Saturday night.

"To me, I don't see them changing a whole lot offensively," Anderson said. "They know what they want to do. Jake [Spavital]'s gonna stick to that. Now, how effectively [Vitt] runs that system, we don't have a lot to go on."

Tough pass defense

ASU's passing game didn't have quite the punch it normally does last Thursday against Louisiana-Lafayette, which had much to do with the game plan of the Ragin' Cajuns' defense.

On Saturday, the Red Wolves' passing attack will be in for another stern test facing a Texas State defense that ranks second in the Sun Belt in both pass defense and pass defense efficiency. The Bobcats give up an average of 195.5 yards per game.

"It's just the defense they play. It takes away a lot of things that teams probably try to do on them as far as the shot plays," ASU senior wide receiver Omar Bayless said.

The Bobcats are tied for first in the league with 13 takeaways, including seven interceptions, and they have the league's top-ranked red-zone defense by a wide margin, allowing scores on 71.9 percent of trips and having forced six turnovers inside their own 20.

"They've played well in all their games," ASU redshirt freshman quarterback Layne Hatcher said. "We expect them to play well, but we think we're an offense that can score on anybody when we're playing to our ability."

Arkansas State

(3-4, 1-2 Sun Belt)

DATE OPPONENT TIME/RESULT

Aug. 31 SMU L, 37-30

Sept. 7 at UNLV W, 43-17

Sept. 14 at Georgia L, 55-0

Sept. 21 Southern Illinois W, 41-28

Sept. 28 at Troy* W, 50-43

Oct. 5 at Georgia State* L, 52-38

Oct. 17 Louisiana-Lafayette* L, 37-20

Oct. 26 Texas State* 6 p.m.

Nov. 2 at Louisiana-Monroe* 4 p.m.

Nov. 16 Coastal Carolina* 2 p.m.

Nov. 23 Georgia Southern* 2 p.m.

Nov. 29 at South Alabama* TBA

*Sun Belt Conference game

Sports on 10/24/2019

Print Headline: Thurmon: Hurt hand doing fine

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