Alcorn St. at ASU in-depth preview
ON TAP: Arkansas State carries a seven-game home winning streak into its final non-conference outing of the regular season Saturday, hosting FCS member Alcorn State at 6 p.m. on ESPN3.com. Every A-State game can be heard live on 107.9 FM in the Jonesboro area, 93.3 FM in the Little Rock area and at AStateRedWolves.com.
THE PRINCIPALS: Arkansas State is off to a 1-2 start for the fourth consecutive year, picking up its lone victory against Memphis and dropping road games against two nationally-ranked programs in Oregon and Nebraska. The Red Wolves are coming off a 42-13 setback to the Huskers, but have not dropped back-to-back games during the regular season since the 2010 campaign. Alcorn State holds an identical 1-2 record, suffering its second straight loss last week in a 24-6 decision to UAPB.
THE?ASU-ALCORN STATE?SERIES: Saturday's game will be the first ever meeting between Arkansas State and Alcorn State.
A-STATE vs. THE SWAC: While A-State and Alcorn State will meet for the first time Saturday, the Red Wolves have played four other opponents among the current SWAC membership all-time. The Red Wolves hold a 5-0 record in those games with victories over Grambling (1985), Jackson State (1987), Mississippi Valley State (1995, 2009) and Texas Southern (2008). A-State has outscored its opponents a combined 244-10 in those games, including a 61-0 victory over Mississippi Valley State (2009) and an 83-10 win against Texas Southern in the two most recent meetings against a SWAC team.
AN A-STATE VICTORY WOULD . . . : Give the Red Wolves a 2-2 record through four games played for the second consecutive season . . . Extend its home winning streak to eight games . . . Extend its winning streak against FCS opponents to eight games . . . Improve its record against SWAC opponents to 6-0 . . . Give ASU back-to-back seasons with at least two non-conference victories for the first time since 2007 and 2008 . . .Move ASU's record at Liberty?Bank Stadium to 33-7 since the 2005 season.
BY THE NUMBERS . . .
1 ASU's 2012 recruiting class was ranked No. 1 in the Sun Belt by Rivals, ESPN.com, Scout and 247Sports.com.
1 reception needed by Taylor Stockemer to become the sixth player in school history to record 100 catches.
2 ASU was picked to finish second in the preseason Sun Belt Coaches Poll with 85 points and 2 first -place votes.
2 touchdown passes needed by Ryan Aplin to become ASU's career leader in the stat.
3 touchdown receptions needed by Taylor Stockemer to become ASU's career leader in the stat.
3 field goals needed by Brian Davis to become ASU's fifth all-time leader in the stat.
3 ASU players named to the Blue Ribbon Preseason All-Sun Belt Conference Team.
4 ASU players named Preseason All-SBC, including Ryan Aplin, Josh Jarboe, Zack McKnight and Don?Jones.
4 of the last seven seasons have seen Arkansas State achieve bowl eligibility with at least six victories.
5.5 games improved from 2010 to 2011 by the ASU, giving it a tie for nation's second biggest turnaround in 2011.
6 ASU players named to Athlon's Preseason All-Sun Belt Conference team.
7 game home winning streak by the Red Wolves.
7 consecutive winning seasons at Liberty Bank?Stadium, including a 6-0 mark in 2011.
8 A-State games are currently scheduled to be televised by ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU or ESPN3.com.
8 game conference winning streak currently held by ASU, which is tied for the longest in the nation with NIU.
8 ASU players named to CollegeSportsMadness.com Preseason All-Sun Belt Conference Team.
8 Brian Davis' national rank in field goals made (2.0 per game)
9 points needed by Brian Davis to take become ASU's sixth all-time leader in points by kicking.
9 of the last 10 years the football team has won the Sun Belt Conference Team Academic Award.
12 A-State players named to Phil Steele's Preseason All-Sun Belt Conference Team.
13 receptions by Josh Jarboe against Oregon, tying the most in ASU?history.
11.5 Rocky Hayes' average per rush this season (10 carries for 115 yards).
17 combined single game, season and career school records held by Ryan Aplin.
20 Ryan Aplin's national rank in total offense (297.0 yards per game).
22 seniors on the 2012 roster, including 12 redshirt seniors.
24 Josh Jarboe's and J.D. McKissic's national rank in receptions per game (6.7 avg.).
29 ASU's national rank in total offense (478.3 yards per game).
33 consecutive games with a reception by Taylor Stockemer, the second most in the nation.
34 yards needed by Taylor Stockemer to take over fifth place at ASU for career receiving yards.
37 David Oku's national rank in rushing yards (96.0 ypg).
51 returning lettermen on the 2012 A-State team, including 6 starters on offense and four on defense.
98 plays ran by the A-State offense against Memphis -- the most by an ASU team since 1975.
153 yards needed by Ryan Aplin to take over second place for career total offense in Sun Belt history.
300 yards or more of total offense recorded by ASU in 26 of its last 28 games.
500+ yards of total offense recorded by A-State in two of its first three games.
21,257 was ASU's school-record average home attendance last season.
HEAD COACH GUS MALZAHN: Gus Malzahn was named the Red Wolves' 28th head football coach at Dec. 14 press conference, bringing him back to his home state after most recently enjoying highly successful stints as a top assistant coach at three NCAA FBS universities that garnered him national acclaim. A name highly recognized throughout Arkansas and the nation, Malzahn comes to Arkansas State after serving as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Auburn for the past three seasons. A native of Fort Smith, Malzahn was named the winner of the 2010 Frank Broyles Award, given annually to the nation's top collegiate assistant coach.
COACHING RECOGNITION: First-year Arkansas State Head Football Coach Gus Malzahn was recognized as one of the top hires in the nation this offseason, named as the No. 4 best hire and No. 2 most intriguing hire in the nation by CBSSports.com. He was also one of two head coaches in the nation to receive a grade of A+ among new hires for the 2012 season by the Sporting News. Bleacher Report's Over/Under Victories" for every new head coach places A-State at nine victories, one of the tops listed in the report.
HALL OF HONOR: A-State head coach Gus Malzahn will be one of seven inductees into Henderson State University's Reddie Hall of Honor on Oct. 6. The event will take place at the Garrison Center Day Gym on the Henderson campus with festivities beginning at 11 a.m. Saturday. A two-year letterman, Malzahn averaged 35.3 yards per punt his first year at Henderson and 37.7 yards his senior year, including a long of 64 yards. He also caught 24 passes for 288 yards for an average of 12.0 yards per catch. He earned All-AIC Honorable Mention honors in 1989.
ASU ANNOUNCES FOOTBALL FACILITY PROJECT: Arkansas State University announced a $22 million football facility project, including a two-level football operations building and 76,000 square-foot indoor practice facility in ASU Stadium's north end zone, at an 11 a.m. press conference held Sept. 6 at the current ASU Football Facility . . . The new football operations building's first floor will house A-State's locker room, state-of-the-art strength and conditioning and sports medicine centers, a players lounge and equipment room. The second floor will feature coaching and administrative offices, team meeting rooms, a history and heritage showroom and a team film room with theatre seating. The indoor practice facility will run east and west and be connected to the north side of the operations building . . . The facility will have a brick exterior and feature an outdoor plaza facing the field on the building's second level. The interior will have a strong Red Wolves' theme with black and red dominating the esthetic appearance.
IT'S ALL IN THE NAME: In recognition of a $5 million contribution by Liberty Bank, the ASU Board of Trustees announced last Saturday that Liberty Bank Stadium is the new name of the football stadium at Arkansas State University. The naming rights to the stadium are for the next 15 years, as announced at the newly-named facility just prior to kickoff of the Red Wolves' home football game against the Memphis Tigers.
A-STATE NAMES NEW AD: Arkansas State University Chancellor Dr.?Tim Hudson announced Wednesday that Terry Mohajir, a 20-year veteran leader in collegiate athletics with a diverse background as an administrator, coach, student-athlete and city government participant, has been named A-State's 11th Director of Athletics. An Arkansas State University alumnus, Mohajir's (pronounced MO-HA-JUR) career path went through three other NCAA?Division I institutions, including the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Florida Atlantic and Kansas, before leading him back to his alma mater. The Overland Park, Kansas native has been involved with major fundraising campaigns at multiple universities, while also overseeing corporate sales, marketing promotions and ticket sales. He most recently served the last 13 months as Kansas' Senior Associate Director of Athletics and Chief Marketing Officer. Prior to his time with the Jayhawks, he spent a seven-year stint as Florida Atlantic's Senior Associate Director of Athletics for External Relations from 2004-11 after working at UMKC?from 1997-2004 as its Assistant Director of Athletics for External Relations.
A-STATE vs. THE FCS: Arkansas State is playing an FCS member for the second consecutive season and the fourth time over the last five years. Dating back to the 2002 campaign, the Red Wolves have won their last seven games against FCS foes by a combined 370-60 score. A-State's last setback against an FCS?opponent was the 2001 regular-season finale when it dropped a 28-22 decision to Nicholls State. ASU is 18-4 against FCS?opponents since moving to the FBS in 1992.
DEFEND THIS HOUSE: Arkansas State has won its last seven home games, which gives the Red Wolves their longest winning streak at Liberty Bank Stadium since 2004-2006 when they won 11 in a row.
HOME SWEET HOME: With a 6-0 home record last season, Arkansas State secured its seventh consecutive winning record at Liberty Bank?Stadium dating back to 2005. ASU is now 32-7 at ASU?Stadium since the 2005 season. The Red Wolves actual on-field record all-time at Liberty Bank Stadium is 124-70-1 since it opened in 1974. ASU's six home wins last season were its most since 1985.
HERALDED PEFORMANCE: Senior linebacker Nathan Herrold matched his season high with 11 tackles last game, marking the second time this year and fifth time of his career he reached double-figure stops. He now has a team-high 31 tackles, placing him second in the Sun Belt Conference and tied for 28th in the nation in tackles.
MAGIC 8-BALL: Redshirt freshman receiver J.D. McKissic recorded a career-high eight receptions for the second straight game last time out, giving him 20 receptions on the season to tie teammate Josh Jarboe for the most on the squad. McKissic and Jarboe are tied for the third most receptions in the Sun Belt Conference (6.7 per game) and 24th most in the nation. Jarboe tied the school record for receptions in a game with 13 against Oregon.
LIGHTING UP THE SCOREBOARD: The Red Wolves regular-season streak of eight games with at least 30 points came to an end last week against Memphis. However, ASU has still scored 30 or more points in 10 of its last 14 regular-season games. A-State scored 30 or more points in eight games during the 2011 season, the most since 1951 when it hit the total 10 times.
FUMBLE, FUMBLE-I-YA . . . : The Red Wolves defense and special teams combined to record four fumble recoveries last game against Nebraska, which was only one shy of tying the second most in school history. The last time ASU tallied more than four fumble recoveries in a game was 1997 when it had five against Southern Utah.
SULLIVENT HONORED: Senior punter Neely Sullivent was announced Sunday as a College Football Performance Awards national honorable mention punter of the week. Sullivent averaged 48 yards per punt against Nebraska, almost a full 10 yards more than his season average of 38.4 entering the game. He recorded his second punt of the season to travel over 50 yards and also posted his first punt inside the 20. Sullivent raised his season average to 41.3 yards per punt to rank him fourth in the Sun Belt Conference.
MONSTER GAME: Sophomore linebacker Qushaun Lee recorded a career-high 15 tackles and recovered a fumble for a touchdown against No. 24 Nebraska. Lee's 15 tackles not only topped his previous best of seven, but were also the most by an A-State player since Javon McKinnon recorded 16 stops against Louisville in 2010 and tied the most by a Sun Belt Conference player this year. Additionally, Lee's 15 tackles matched the fourth highest total recorded by any player in the nation this season. Lee's fumble recovery in the end zone gave him his first career touchdown, and marked the first time the Red Wolves scored on a touchdown on a fumble recovery since their 2011 regular-season finale. The touchdown pulled ASU within 28-10 of Nebraska early in the third quarter.
MORE OFTEN THAN NOT: Senior quarterback Ryan Aplin‘s 12-game streak with at least one touchdown pass came to an end last week against Nebraska, but he has still tossed at least one touchdown in 28 of his last 31 games dating back to his freshman season. Aplin has also thrown for at least 200 yards 24 times in his career and all 24 have come over ASU's last 30 games. Additionally, he has 15 career games with over 300 yards total offense, including five of the last six.
KICK IT INTO GEAR: Junior kicker Brian Davis took over sole possession for the sixth most field goals made in a career last time out, ending the Nebraska game with two field goals to run his three-year total to 30. He made two field goals for the fourth straight game and is tied for 8th in the nation this season in field goals made with six. He has now made multiple field goals in eight career games.
ACTIVE APLIN: Senior quarterback Ryan Aplin is ranked among the top active players in the NCAA in several career statistics, including:
4th, career total offense yards (9,625)
T4th, career rushing touchdowns (26)
5th, career passing yards (8,179)
6th, career completions (702)
6th, career TD responsible for (74)
9th, career touchdown passes (47)
TWO MORE SCHOOL RECORDS: Senior quarterback Ryan Aplin set two new school records this year both career total offense and career passing yards, giving him 17 combined game, season and career records at ASU . . . His single-game records include most plays, total offense, most average yards per game, passes attempted and completions . . . His single-season records include most plays, total offense, passes attempted, completions, touchdown passes, highest completion percentage and most passing yards per game . . . His career records include total offense, most average yards per game, completions, highest completion percentage and most passing yards per game.
GETTING DEFENSIVE: A-State held Memphis to 293 yards total offense, the fewest by an ASU opponent since FAU?recorded 281 last season. The Red Wolves recorded six tackles for loss against the Tigers as well, matching their total from the Oregon game.
THAT'S OFFENSIVE: A-State's 619 yards of total offense against Memphis were the eighth most in school history and its most against an FBS?opponent since recording a school-record 681 against Louisiana-Lafayette in 2007. The Red Wolves' also ran 98 plays, which tied the second most in school history and were the most in a game since 1975. Additionally, the Red Wolves set the school record for first downs in a game with 34, topping the previous total of 28 set against Southern Illinois in 1982.
CAREER HIGHS: Senior defensive lineman Ronnell Wright, sophomore safety Kyle Coleman and junior linebacker Eddie Porter all at least tied their career-high tackles total last game against Nebraska. Wright and Coleman both set new highs with six tackles each, while Porter tied his high with five. ?Porter also posted his first forced fumble and fumble recovery in the game.