Six different Red Wolves have started at wing for Arkansas State this season -- David Caswell, Tom Haussrer, James Ritenour, Dale Bates, James Cobble and Josh Chomieszewski. Caswell’s season ended earlier this year with a sports hernia, but all of the other wings are healthy and up for selection for the National Championship game against BYU.
Bates, Arkansas State’s leading try scorer who covered at outside center when Dean Gericke was injured earlier in the season, has come off the bench the last four games despite being perfectly healthy.
Chomieszewski, a freshman, made his first start against Army in the quarterfinals and his second in Moraga, Calif. last week against St. Mary’s. Throw in Dylan Carrion, too, who has come off the bench in numerous games, and what do you have? The deepest stable of outside backs in the country.
When ASU’s Mid-South rival, Life, played BYU last week, their perceived advantage going into the game was speed on the outside. The perception held up. But when All American wing Kyle Grossheider went down in the second half, Life didn’t have an equal to step in for him.
If Arkansas State finds itself in a similar situation, down six late and in need of a spark offensively, they have multiple guys who can come off the bench and provide, and guys who can do it in different ways.
Dale Bates is a tall, strong, broad-shouldered wing. He is also extremely fast. He might be the most gifted wing for Arkansas State, but Huckaby likes to bring him off the bench, let him stew on the sidelines and build up aggression.
Chomieszewski is the fastest guy on the team and a good finisher.
Carrion and Cobble are small in stature. Cobble is more stout and plays with a lot of aggression and physicality, while Carrion is a stepper.
Ritenour dabbled in football as a wide receiver at Texas Tech before going to Arkansas State and has a lot of athleticism, and Haussrer, a Kiwi, has a lot of game experience and rugby savvy.
When Arkansas State played BYU in the semifinals last year, Roland Evans started on the wing. The four-time All American made his name as a loose forward, but played well for the Red Wolves on the wing. Steyn Benade, the RUGBYMag All American flanker, could find himself playing on the wing this weekend, said ASU coach Matt Huckaby. Benade scored three tries on the wing for the South all-stars in their NASC run last year.
BYU will have the advantage in a lot of areas Saturday -- the home crowd, scrum, experience. But if Arkansas State is in the game in the second half, their x-factor, an electric bench, could play a role in the turnout.