ASU at ULM in-depth preview
ASU (4-4, 2-1) at La-Monroe (5-4, 3-1)
6 p.m. Saturday, Malone Stadium, Monroe, La.
RADIO: EAB Red Wolves Sports Radio Network (107.9 FM Jonesboro, 93.3 FM Little Rock)
Live Stats: AStateRedWolves.com
THE PRINCIPALS: The winner of Saturday's game will have sole ownership of second place in the Sun Belt Conference standings. The Red Wolves improved to 2-1 in league play last week with a 17-16 road win over South Alabama, while ULM won its third straight game with a 49-37 victory at Troy. A-State will carry a nine-game road winning streak against Sun Belt opponents into the contest, while the Warhawks are 2-2 at Malone Stadium this season.
AN A-STATE VICTORY WOULD . . .: Extend its road winning streak against Sun Belt Conference opponents to 10 games . . . Put the Red Wolves above .500 for the first time since it was 2-1 . . . Give it sole possession of second place in the Sun Belt Conference standings . . . Make it 3-1 in Sun Belt Conference play through four games for the second straight year . . . Mark the Red Wolves fourth consecutive win against ULM . . . Give it back-to-back victories for the first time this season . . . Give the Red Wolves a win over a Sun Belt Conference Coaches Poll preseason favorite or co-favorite for the fourth consecutive year.
ASU coach Bryan Harris
THE ASU - ULM SERIES: A-State has played ULM 34 times, which is the fifth most in school history among all opponents. Arkansas State leads the all-time series with ULM 20-14 since the first meeting in 1959. As Sun Belt foes, ASU leads the series 8-4 after picking up a win over the Warhawks the last three seasons, including a 24-19 victory in Monroe in 2011 and a 45-23 win in Jonesboro last season.
ASU-ULM ALL-TIME SERIES: ASU leads 20-14
ASU-ULM ALL-TIME SBC SERIES: ASU leads 8-4
ASU at ULM (SBC SERIES ONLY): tied 3-3
ULM at ASU (SBC SERIES ONLY): ASU leads 5-1
OLD TIES: While Arkansas State and ULM have met the past 12 seasons as Sun Belt Conference opponents, it is not the first time the two teams have shared a league. Both the Red Wolves and the Warhawks were members of the Southland Conference at the same time from 1982-86.
RED WOLVES NOVEMBER: Arkansas State is undefeated in November since the 2011 season with a 7-0 record over that span. All seven victories have come against Sun Belt Conference opponents, including four by a double-figure margin.
OFFENSIVE PACE: Arkansas State is producing offensive numbers that are on pace to rank among the best in school history in several categories. The Red Wolves are averaging 425.6 yards per game, 5.9 yards per play and 235.1 passing yards per game, which all rank among the top five in school history. The total offense average and yards per play are both the third highest and passing yards average is the fifth highest.
DEFENSE STEPS UP: The A-State defense held South Alabama 75 yards below its total offense average and to its lowest scoring output this season last week. The Jaguars entered the game ranked third in the Sun Belt Conference in both categories. The Red Wolves also recorded six tackles for loss in the game, their most since posting nine against Troy in their third game of the season.
BY THE NUMBERS . . .
1 of just 16 FBS programs to win at least 20 games over the last two years (2011 & 2012).
1 receiving touchdown needed by Allen Muse to tie the 9th most (9) in school history.
1 rushing touchdown needed by David Oku to tie the seventh most (22) in school history.
1.4 passes defended per game by Rocky Hayes ranks 13th in the nation.
3 ASU was picked to finish 3rd in the preseason Sun Belt Coaches Poll with 45 pts. and 2 first-place votes.
3 consecutive seasons with a victory over the top team in the Sun Belt Preseason Coaches Poll.
3 consecutive games with double-figure tackles by Qushaun Lee (14.7 tpg over that span).
3 A-State players (Davis, Hayes, McKissic) ranked 1st in the Sun Belt in at least 1 statistical category.
3 players on the A-State roster from the state of Louisiana (Darius Dunaway, Frankie Jackson, Allen Muse).
5 of the last eight seasons have seen A-State achieve bowl eligibility.
5 players named to one of college football's major award watch lists.
7 consecutive wins in the month of November dating back to the 2011 season.
7 points needed by Brian Davis to break the Sun Belt record for points by kicking in a career (295).
7 preseason All-Sun Belt Conference selections, the most in the league.
8 turnovers lost by A-State is tied for the seventh fewest in the nation.
8 consecutive winning seasons at Liberty Bank Stadium.
8 straight victories in games decided by 7 points or less, the second longest active streak in the nation.
8.3 yards per rush by Michael Gordon is currently the third highest average in school history.
9 game Sun Belt Conference road winning streak held by A-State.
9 players (Albright, Campbell, Carrethers, Haunga, Kennedy, McCants, Muse, Oliver, Williams) already with their degree.
10.4 tackles per game by Qushaun Lee is ranked as the 15th highest average in the nation.
10 win seasons in 2011 & 2012, making ASU the first team in SBC history w/ back-to-back 10-win campaigns.
10 A-State players named to Phil Steele's midseason All-Sun Belt Conference Team.
10 Sun Belt Conference Team Academic Awards over the last 11 years.
11 passes defended by Rocky Hayes is two more than the most by an ASU player for all of last season.
12 consecutive field goals made by Brian Davis for the second longest streak in school history.
12 consecutive victories by A-State when scoring at least 30 points.
13 votes in the final 2012 USA Today Coaches Top 25 poll, ranking A-State No. 32 in the nation.
13 A-State players named to at least one preseason All-Sun Belt Conference team.
13 statistical categories in which A-State ranks among the top 50 teams in the nation.
15 players named to the most recent Sun Belt Conference Commissioner's List (3.5 GPA or higher).
17 tackles needed by Qushaun Lee to become first ASU player since 2002-03 with 100 stops in consecutive seasons.
17 Sun Belt Conference victories over its last 19 league games.
18 receptions by Darion Griswold are the most by an A-State tight end since Trevor Gillott (24) in 2009.
23 A-State wins over its last 32 regular-season games dating back to 2011.
23 All-Sun Belt Conference selections over the last two years combined.
26.4 yards per kickoff return by ASU is ranked 8th in the nation, and 18.9 ypr KO coverage is ranked 24th.
27 players named to the most recent Sun Belt Conference Academic Honor Roll (3.0 GPA or higher).
28 votes in the final 2012 Associated Press Top 25 poll, ranking A-State No. 32 in the nation.
30 or more points scored by A-State in 21 of its last 31 games.
41 of J.D. McKissic's 47 receptions have come over the last six games (6.8 per game).
45.9 third-down conversion percentage by A-State is ranked 31st in the nation.
63 tackles by Ryan Carrethers are the most in the nation by a defensive lineman.
68.3 completion percentage by Adam Kennedy is ranked 10th in the nation.
300 yards or more of total offense recorded by ASU in 41 of its last 46 games.
400 or more yards total offense by A-State in five of its first eight games.
425.6 yards total offense per game is the third highest in school history for a single season.
26.7 million-dollar football facility project in Liberty Bank Stadium's north end zone announced.
HEAD COACH BRYAN HARSIN: Bryan Harsin was named the Red Wolves' 29th head football coach on Dec. 12, 2012. Harsin is a 13-year coaching veteran at the NCAA FBS level who has coached in 10 bowl games as either an assistant or offensive coordinator. Harsin, a finalist for the 2009 Broyles Award recognizing the top assistant coach in the country, has been associated with two nationally-prominent programs during his rise to A-State's head coach. Working closely with Chris Petersen at Boise State and Mack Brown at Texas, two of the most well-respected coaches in the country, Harsin spent the last seven seasons as an offensive coordinator with the Broncos and Longhorns.
STARTING STRONG: With the Red Wolves victory over UAPB, Bryan Harsin became the Red Wolves first head coach to win his inaugural game at the school since Larry Lacewell in 1979. ASU's previous seven head coaches all suffered setbacks in their first game, including Al Kincaid, Ray Perkins, John Bobo, Joe Hollis, Steve Roberts, Hugh Freeze and Gus Malzahn.
LOUISIANA RED WOLVES: Arkansas State has three players on its roster from the state of Louisiana, including Monroe-native and defensive lineman Darius Dunaway. Also from the state are two starters in defensive back Frankie Jackson (Baton Rouge, La.) and wide receiver Allen Muse (Leesville, La.).
A-STATE vs. THE SUN BELT: Arkansas State has won 17 of its last 19 league games to run its all-time record in the conference to 51-38. The Red Wolves hold their most all-time victories against Louisiana-Monroe with 20. With the exception of Texas State and Georgia State, which are in their first season as a member of the league, the Red Wolves have defeated every team in the SBC since the football league was formed in 2001. Along with Louisiana-Monroe and Louisiana-Lafayette, A-State is one of three teams that have been a part of the conference since 2001.
DAVIS NAMED LOU GROZA AWARD SEMIFINALIST: Senior kicker Brian Davis was named one 20 semifinalists for the Lou Groza Award this week. Davis, also a semifinalist for the award in 2012, is 10-of-10 on field goal attempts this year with a career-long of 50 yards.
SUN BELT PLAYERS OF THE WEEK: Senior safety Sterling Young was named the Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Week following the Red Wolves game against South Alabama, giving A-State four different players to earn a weekly honor from the league. In addition to Young, the other A-State players recognized this season are senior DL?Ryan Carrethers (Oct. 28), senior QB Adam Kennedy (Oct. 14) and sophomore WR?J.D. McKissic (Oct. 14, Special Teams).
CFPA HONORS DAVIS: Senior kicker Brian Davis was recognized by the College Football Performance Awards (CFPA) for the third time this season following the South Alabama game, earning Honorable Mention Specialist of the Week honors. He was also named the CFPA's National Specialist of the Week following the Missouri game and an honorable mention choice after the Auburn game. Other players recognized as a CFPA honorable mention player of the week at their respective positions include sr. DL Amos Draper, soph. RB?Michael Gordon, soph. TE Darion Griswold and sr. WR?Allen Muse.
MIDSEASON ALL-CONFERENCE: Arkansas State placed 10 players, including five first-team selections, on the Phil Steele's Midseason All-Sun Belt Conference Team. The Red Wolves 10 selections tied Louisiana-Lafayette and Louisiana-Monroe for the most in the conference, and their five first-team picks matched the most along with the Ragin' Cajuns. The A-State offense and defense were both represented by four players, and two Red Wolves made the list as special teams choices. Arkansas State's first-team selections included sophomore center Bryce Giddens (Moultrie, Ga.), senior guard Steven Haunga (Richmond, Calif.), senior defensive lineman Ryan Carrethers (Nashville, Tenn.), sophomore cornerback Rocky Hayes (Heflin, Ala.) and senior kicker Brian Davis (Brentwood, Tenn.). The Red Wolves' second-team selections included senior running back David Oku (Midwest City, Okla.), senior wide receiver Julian Jones (Germantown, Tenn.), junior linebacker Qushaun Lee (Prattville, Ala.) and senior safety Sterling Young (Hoover, Ala.). Sophomore wide receiver J.D. McKissic (Phenix City, Ala.) was also a second-team choice as a kick returner.
300-PLUS: Dating back to the 2010 season, Arkansas State has posted at least 300 yards of total offense 41 of its last 46 games. The Red Wolves have posted at least 300 yards total offense in all but two games this season and is ranked 57th in the nation (425.6 ypg).
LIGHTING UP THE SCOREBOARD: Including three games this season, A-State has posted at least 30 points in 21 of its last 31 regular-season games dating back to the 2011 season. The Red Wolves have won 12 consecutive games when scoring at least 30 points.
ROAD WARRIORS: Arkansas State has won nine consecutive road conference games, its longest streak ever as a member of any league. The Red Wolves went 4-0 in conference road games in both 2011 and 2012 and is 1-0 in 2013. Its previous longest road conference winning streak was seven against Southland foes from 1973-75.
HOME SWEET HOME: With a 5-1 home mark last season, Arkansas State secured its eighth consecutive winning record at Liberty Bank Stadium dating back to 2005. ASU is now 39-9 at Liberty Bank Stadium since the 2005 season and has won 14 of its last 16 home games. The Red Wolves actual on-field record all-time at Liberty Bank Stadium is 131-72-1 since it opened in 1974. ASU's six home wins in 2011 were its most since 1985.
PICK IT OFF: The A-State defense has recorded one interception in each of the last three games, matching its total for the first five games combined. The Red Wolves recorded a season-high three interceptions against Troy, their third opponent of the season.
HITTING 1,000: Senior WR Julian Jones went over 1,000 career yards receiving during the South Alabama game, making him the third player on the Red Wolves roster to accomplish the feat. Sophomore WR J.D. McKissic leads the way with 1,398 to his credit (8th most in school history), while senior WR Allen Muse has 1,165 and Jones 1,006.
COVERING AT CORNERBACK: Sophomore corner Rocky Hayes has made a big impact in his first season on the defensive side of the ball, leading the team in both pass break-ups (8) and interceptions (3). He is ranked first in the Sun Belt Conference in passes defended with 11, which is two more than the most by an A-State player for all of last season (Chaz Scales, 7 PBU, 2 INT). Hayes is ranked 13th in the nation in passes defended.
MAKING A RETURN: Sophomore WR J.D. McKissic is ranked sixth in the nation in kickoff returns (30.5 ypr) and 45th in punt returns (7.3 ypg). He recorded a career-high 125 kickoff return yards against Idaho, including a 98-yard return for a touchdown in the contest. The return for a touchdown was the first by an A-State player since 2001.
ON THE RISE: Senior WR Julian Jones has recorded at least four receptions in five of the last seven games, including a career-high 10 versus Missouri. Jones has either led or tied for the team high in receptions in four games this season and is ranked fourth in the Sun Belt Conference in receptions per game (5.2 pg). Jones' 42 total receptions are 25 more than he had for his entire career entering the 2013 season.
TOTAL OFFENSE PRODUCER: Senior quarterback Adam Kennedy ranks third in the Sun Belt Conference in total offense with 253.6 yards per game, which also ranks 36th in the nation. Kennedy recorded 358 yards of total offense against Auburn, 334 versus Missouri and a career-high 397 against Idaho. He also just missed going over 300 versus Troy with 299 to his credit. His 397 yards versus Idaho were the fifth most in school history. He has recorded over 200 yards total offense in five of the last seven games, including the South Alabama game (201 yards).
MAKING A CONNECTION: Senior QB Adam Kennedy tied the school record for completions in a game with 37 against Missouri (tied Ryan Aplin, 2011 vs. Western Kentucky). Kennedy has already completed 164 passes, which ranks tied for the ninth most in school history for a single season. He is ranked 27th in the nation in completions (20.5 pg) and 12th in completion percentage (.683). His current completion percentage currently stands as the highest in school history for a single season.
INSIDE FORCE: A member of the Bednarik Award and Outland Trophy Watch Lists, senior defensive lineman Ryan Carrethers is ranked second on the team and sixth in the Sun Belt in tackles with 63 through seven games. He is averaging 7.9 tackles per game, 2.6 more than he averaged last season when he finished with 68 total for the most by an A-State interior defensive lineman since former NFL standout Jon Bradly in 2002. His 63 tackles this season are the most in the nation by a defensive lineman. He posted a career-high 16 tackles against UL Lafayette, which hare also the most in the nation this season by a defensive lineman for a single game.
ON PACE FOR 100: Senior linebacker Qushaun Lee has recorded a team-high 83 tackles, which is also ranked second in the Sun Belt Conference. He is averaging 10.4 tackles per game, which is the 15th highest in the nation and puts him on pace for 100 tackles for the second straight season. The last time an A-State player had at least 100 tackles in back-to-back seasons was 2003 and 2002 when linebacker Les Echols had 123 and 105, respectively. Lee recorded a career-high 16 tackles at South Alabama, 15 against Idaho and 13 versus UL-Lafayette, giving him seven career games with double-figure stops.
GRISWOLD VACATION TO THE END ZONE: Senior tight end Darion Griswold tied his career high with five receptions for a career-high 89 yards and his first two career touchdowns against Idaho, earning CFPA national Honorable Mention Tight End of the Week for his efforts. He has now caught 18 passes for 247 yards, both the most in a season by an A-State tight end since Trevor Gillott recorded 24 receptions for 283 yards in 2009.
ON A ROLL: A Freshman All-America selection last season, sophomore WR?J.D. McKissic has caught at least one pass in all 21 games of his career at A-State. He has come on strong the last few games, recording 36 of his 47 receptions this season against Missouri, Idaho, UL-Lafayette and South Alabama. He had nine versus the Vandals, a school-record 15 against Missouri and six against both the Ragin' Cajuns and Jaguars. McKissic also finished the Missouri game with a season-high 117 receiving yards, marking the fifth time of his career he has posted 100 in a game.
A FLARE FOR THE DRAMATIC: Sophomore RB Michael Gordon is responsible for two of the three longest runs by A-State this year, including a 92-yard outburst against UAPB that was the second longest in school history. Gordon posted a 64-yard touchdown run against Troy as well, and he is averaging 8.3 yards per attempt (34) that stands as the third highest in school history for a single season. Gordon has two 100-yard rushing games, including a 102-yard showing against UAPB and a 115-yard effort vs. Troy.