A-State at Louisiana in-depth preview
A-STATE (6-4, 6-0) at LOUISIANA (4-6, 3-3)
WHEN: 11 a.m. Saturday
WHERE: Cajun Field, Lafayette, La.
RADIO: 107.9 FM Jonesboro, 92.7 FM Conway
TV: American Sports Network, ESPN3
LIVE STATS: AstateStats.com/AStateRedWolves.com
LIVE GAME NOTES: twitter.com/AStateGameDay
THE PRINCIPALS: Arkansas State took over sole possession of first place in the Sun Belt Conference standings last week with a 35-3 victory over No. 25 Troy. The Red Wolves can clinch at least a share of the Sun Belt title with a victory this Saturday, while Louisiana holds a 4-6 overall record and must win in order to maintain a shot at bowl eligibility. The Red Wolves will carry a 15-game winning streak against conference opponents into the matchup, while the Ragin’ Cajuns stand 3-3 in league play this season. Not only is the Red Wolves’ conference winning streak tied for the longest in the nation, A-State is the only FBS program in the country to win four conference championships over the last five seasons.
AN A-STATE VICTORY WOULD . . . : Improve A-State’s all-time record against Louisiana to 21-23-1 . . . Give the Red Wolves wins against Louisiana each of the last two seasons . . . Secure it at least a share of the Sun Belt Conference championship . . . Guarantee the Red Wolves a winning record for the sixth consecutive season for the first time since 1912-17 . . . Give it at least seven wins for the sixth consecutive season (previous longest streak was four seasons from 1984-87) . . . Make it 7-0 in Sun Belt Conference play for the second consecutive season and third time school history (2016, 2015, 2011) . . . Extend its conference winning streak to 16 games . . . Improve its record in the month of November to 20-3 since the 2011 season, including wins the last eight games in a row . . . Move A-State’s record against Sun Belt foes to 40-6 over its last 46 league games . . . Give it 19 wins over its last 22 conference road games, including the last seven in a row . . . Give it seven consecutive wins to tie the eighth longest winning streak in school history.
THE A-STATE - LOUISIANA SERIES: Arkansas State holds an all-time on-field record of 20-23-1 against Louisiana in the series that dates back to the 1953 season. As Sun Belt Conference opponents, Louisiana leads the series 8-6, although the Red Wolves won last year’s meeting 37-27 in Jonesboro. The home team has held the recent advantage in the series, winning in 12 of the last 15 meetings. Saturday’s game will be the 45th meeting all-time in the series. A-State’s 44 games played against the Ragin’ Cajuns are the second most against any opponent in school history behind only its 57 played versus Memphis.
FAMILIAR FOE: While Arkansas State and Louisiana have both played as members of the Sun Belt Conference since the league’s inaugural football season in 2001, it is not the first time the two teams have shared a conference. The Red Wolves and Ragin’ Cajuns were both members of the Big West Conference from 1993 to 1995 and the Southland Conference from 1971 to 1981.
LOUISIANA RED WOLVES: Arkansas State has three players on its roster from the state of Louisiana, including redshirt freshman linebacker Kirk Louis (Baton Rouge), freshman tight end Javonis Isaac (Lafayette) and freshman defensive back Jordan Papyion (New Orleans).
A-STATE vs. THE SUN BELT: Arkansas State has won 39 of its last 45 Sun Belt Conference games (.867 winning percentage) to run its all-time record in the conference to 72-42. The Red Wolves hold their most all-time victories against ULM with 24. The Red Wolves have defeated every team in the conference since the football league was formed in 2001. Along with ULM and Louisiana-Lafayette, A-State is one of three teams that have been a part of the conference since its inaugural football season.
BY THE NUMBERS . . .
0 turnovers committed by A-State in four games this season, including last week versus Troy.
1 sack or less allowed by A-State in four of its last six games.
1 sack needed by Ja’Von Rolland-Jones to break the Sun Belt Conference record (26).
1 or more turnovers gained by A-State in 31 of 36 games under defensive coordinator Joe Cauthen.
3 current players have already earned their degree -- Austin Moreton, Darrius Rosser, Blaise Taylor.
3 straight Sun Belt Conference road games on A-State’s schedule for the third consecutive season.
4 career interception returns for a touchdown by Money Hunter are the most in Sun Belt history.
4 Sun Belt Conference championships (2011, 2012, 2013, 2015) over the last five seasons (2011-15).
5 consecutive games with an interception by the A-State defense (eight total over that span).
5 straight bowl game appearances (2011-15).
5 consecutive winning seasons (2011-15) by A-State (last time 1949-53).
5 head coaches over the last 7 years (Steve Roberts, Hugh Freeze, Gus Malzahn, Bryan Harsin, Blake Anderson).
5 career kick blocks, including 1 vs. Georgia St., by Chris Odom are the 2nd most in A-State history.
6 Sun Belt Players of the Week: Justice Hansen (twice), Chris Humes, Blaise Taylor, Money Hunter & Chris Odom.
6 consecutive victories ties the nation’s 8th longest streak and the ninth longest in school history.
7 or more victories each of the last five seasons (2011-15) -- first time in school history.
7 or more explosive plays (20+ yards) by A-State four of its last seven games.
8.0 tackles for loss average by the A-State defense ranks ninth in the nation.
8 of last 10 years w/at least one NFL Draft selection.
9 of the last 12 seasons (2005-16) have seen A-State reach bowl eligibility, including the last six in a row.
10 or more tackles by Xavier Woodson-Luster in nine career games, including three this season.
11 Sun Belt Conference Team Academic Awards over the last 14 years, including 2015.
12 consecutive seasons with a winning record at Centennial Bank Stadium (2005-16).
15 consecutive Sun Belt wins are tied for the nation’s longest conference winning streak.
18 wins by A-State over its last 21 conference road games, including the last six in a row.
19 wins by A-State over its last 22 games played in the month of November dating back to 2011.
20 of A-State’s 22 victories under HC Blake Anderson have come by a double-figure margin.
24 career rushing touchdowns by Johnston White are tied for the seventh most in school history.
30 or more points scored by A-State in 45 of its last 69 regular-season games (65 percent).
39 Sun Belt Conference victories over the last six (2011-16) seasons (39-6 league record).
42 interception return yards needed by Money Hunter to break the Sun Belt Conference record (309).
44 previous games played against Louisiana are the second most in A-State history versus all opponents.
50 victories by A-State over the last six seasons ranks tied for the 25th most in the nation.
58 combined points allowed by A-State last five games are the fewest over a five-game span since 1986.
62 All-Sun Belt Conference selections over the last five seasons.
65 punt return yards needed by Blaise Taylor for the most career yards in A-State history.
200 or more rushing yds by A-State in 3 of its first 6 SBC games (11 straight wins when reaching the mark).
200 or more yards passing by Justice Hansen three of the last four games and five times total.
300 or more yds total offense in 77 of last 87 games (89 pct.), including all but 4 games under Blake Anderson.
337.9 average yards allowed by A-State’s defense the last 7 games, which would rank 19th in the nation.
684 career punt return yards by Blaise Taylor are the second most in Sun Belt Conference history.
HEAD COACH BLAKE ANDERSON: Blake Anderson, a 16-year coaching veteran at the NCAA FBS level who also coached in an NJCAA National Championship game, was named the Red Wolves’ 30th all-time head football coach on Dec. 19, 2013. Anderson led A-State to back-to-back winning seasons, a pair of bowl game appearances (2015 New Orleans Bowl and 2014 GoDaddy Bowl) and the 2015 Sun Belt Conference championship his first two seasons at the helm, which also saw the Red Wolves break the school records for total offense (6,174 yards in 2014), average yards total offense (476.5 yards per game in 2014), total plays (1,024 in 2014), points scored (520 in 2015), touchdowns scored (69 in 2015) and interceptions (26 in 2015). During his first two years at the helm of the program, he saw 20 of his players earn 26 All-Sun Belt Conference selections -- the most in the league over that span.
THREE YEARS RUNNING: Even with at least two games remaining on the Red Wolves’ schedule, Blake Anderson is already the first head coach in Arkansas State history to win 22 or more games over his first three seasons at the school. Additionally, he is the just the second head coach at A-State to win 22 games in 36 or fewer contests -- Bennie Ellender reached 22 victories in 35 games from 1963-66.
ABOVE AVERAGE: The Red Wolves have averaged 35.16 points per game over the last three seasons, making Blake Anderson one of just 13 current head coaches with at least two full FBS seasons under their belt to average at least 35 points per game.
1. Jeff Brohm, WKU – 43.79 (1,664 points/38 games)
2. Mark Helfrich, Oregon – 42.92 (2,232 points/52 games)
3. Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M – 39.90 (4,589 points/115 games)
4. Chris Petersen, Washington – 38.58 (5,479 pts/142 games)
5. Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech – 38.51 (1,887 points/49 games)
6. Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State – 37.21 (5,656 pts/152 games)
7. Bryan Harsin, Boise State – 36.54 (1,827 points/50 games)
8. Jimbo Fisher, Florida State – 36.41 (3,386 points/93 games)
9. Bobby Petrino, Louisville – 35.97 (5,396 points/150 games)
10. Todd Graham, Arizona State – 35.95 (5,141 pts/143 games)
11. Bobby Wilder, Old Dominion – 35.60 (3,382 pts/95 games)
12. Larry Fedora, North Carolina – 35.44 (4,111 pts/116 games)
13. Blake Anderson, A-State – 35.16 (1,266 pts/36 games)
THROUGH 10: Arkansas State holds a winning record through 10 games for the sixth time (2011-16) since gaining FBS status in 1992. The previous five teams finished the season with at least seven wins and participated in a bowl game.
6-0 IN THE SUN BELT: Arkansas State holds a 6-0 record in Sun Belt Conference play for the second consecutive year and third time in school history, also attaining a 6-0 record in 2011. The previous two A-State teams to start Sun Belt action with six consecutive victories went on to go undefeated in league play and claim the SBC championship.
BOWL ELIGIBLE: With a 6-4 overall record, A-State is now bowl eligible for the sixth consecutive season and ninth time over the last 12 years. Since joining the FBS in 1992, Arkansas State became bowl eligible in 10 games or less for the sixth time (2011-16). The earliest A-State ever became bowl eligible was in 2011 when it was 6-2 through eight games.
ON A ROLL: Arkansas State has currently won six consecutive games to tie future Sun Belt Conference member Coastal Carolina for the eighth longest winning streak in the nation. The Red Wolves’ current six-game winning streak ties the ninth longest in school history.
A-STATE LONGEST WINNING STREAKS
16 wins (1969-71)
15 wins (1974-76)
9 wins, three times (2012-13; 2011; 1951)
8 wins, twice (2015; 1986)
7 wins (1985)
6 wins, three times (2016, 1978, 1953)
15 IN A ROW: Arkansas State has won its last 15 Sun Belt Conference games dating back to the 2014 season, which ties Oklahoma and Alabama for the longest conference winning streak in the nation. The Red Wolves’ 15 consecutive Sun Belt victories also matches their streak assembled during the 2011-12 seasons, which is the second longest ever by a member of the league. North Texas put together 26 straight SBC victories between 2001-05.
LONGEST SUN BELT-GAME WINNING STREAKS
26 wins (North Texas, 2001-06)
15 wins (Arkansas State, 2014-cur.)
15 wins (Arkansas State, 2011-12)
13 wins (Troy, 2008-10)
LOOKING FOR SIX: Arkansas State needs one more win to secure its sixth consecutive season with a winning record for the first time since 1912-17. The Red Wolves claimed five consecutive winning seasons from 2011-15 for not only the first as an FBS member, but also the first time at any level since 1949-53. The Red Wolves have piled up 50 victories from 2011-16 for its most over a six-year span in the program’s 102-year history.
TAKING ON THE TOP 25: Arkansas State claimed a 35-3 victory over No. 25 (AP) Troy last week, claiming its second win over a Top 25 team since joining the FBS in 1992. The other victory came against No. 25 Kent State in the 2013 GoDaddy Bowl. The Red Wolves’ game against Troy was its first this season against a Top-25 ranked opponent at the time of the game.
THAT’S A FIRST: The Red Wolves have 27 players who have participated in their first career game at A-State this season, including nine as starters. There are 15 offensive players who have seen their first action at A-State, including Chad Voytik (Sr., QB, starter), Kendall Sanders (Sr., WR, starter), Cam Echols-Luper (Jr., WR, starter), Armond Weh-Weh (Jr., RB), Christian Booker (Jr., WR), Justice Hansen (So., QB, starter), Justin McInnis (So., WR), Omar Bayless (Fr.-R, WR, starter), Darveon Brown (Fr.-R, WR), Avery Johnson (Fr.-R, TE), Troy Elliott (Fr., OL, starter), Cameron Davis (Fr.-R, OL), Jamal Jones (Fr.-R, RB), Jaylon Marshall (Fr.-R, WR) and Dalton Ford (Fr.-R, OL) . . . There are nine defensive players, including Dee Liner (Jr., DL, starter), BJ Edmonds (Fr., S), Kyle Martin (Jr., CB), Trent Ellis-Brewer (Fr., DB, starter), Antwon Turnage (Jr., LB), Kyle Wilson (Jr., LB, starter), Kirk Louis (Fr.-R, LB), Jeremy Smith (Fr., CB) and TJ Wilson (Fr.-R, DE) . . . The remaining two are Sawyer Williams (Fr.-R, K) and Damon Foncham (Fr.-R, P).
102ND SEASON: Arkansas State kicked off its 102nd season of football Sept. 2 vs. Toledo. A-State holds a 456-476-37 record since the inaugural season and has played in 13 bowl games. A-State did not field a team from 1942-44 due to World War II. Arkansas State also didn’t have a team in 1918 as World War I was ending.
SIX-YEAR WINS TOTAL: Including back-to-back 10-win seasons in 2011 and 2012, eight more in 2013, seven in 2014, nine last season and six this year, the Red Wolves have recorded 50 victories that are tied for the 25th most in the nation over the last six years.
DON’T CALL IT A COMEBACK: Arkansas State has achieved one victory this season (vs. Georgia Southern) when entering halftime behind on the scoreboard, giving it five second-half comeback victories all-time under head coach Blake Anderson. Three of Arkansas State’s victories last season came under the same circumstances. During those three victories, A-State outscored its opponents by a combined 86-23 in the second half. The Red Wolves also defeated Utah State during the 2014 season after entering the second half behind.
DOUBLE DIGITS: Five of A-State’s six wins this season have come by at least 10 points, and the Red Wolves average margin of victory in its six Sun Belt wins is 19.7 points. Additionally, all nine of its wins last season and six of its seven in 2014 came by a double-figure margin, meaning 20 of the Red Wolves’ 22 wins under head coach Blake Anderson have come by 10 or more points. The only exceptions were a 21-14 overtime win over Utah State in 2014 and a 27-26 victory over Georgia Southern this year.
TOP 25: Arkansas State was receiving votes in both the Associated Press (2 points) and Coaches (6 points) Top 25 polls at the end of the 2015 regular season, making it the fourth season since 2011 that A-State was included among “others receiving votes” at one point during the year. The Red Wolves also earned votes in 2011, 2012 and 2013. A-State’s most ever points in the Associated Press (28) and Coaches (23) Top 25 came in the 2012 final polls.
SUN BELT CHAMPS: Arkansas State won the 2015 Sun Belt Conference championship with an unblemished 8-0 record, giving it the league title for the fourth time over the last five seasons with a 33-6 conference record over that span. A-State also won the league title 2011-13, including outright championships in 2011 and 2012. It is just the second program in Sun Belt history with three (2015, 2011-12) outright titles, along with North Texas (2002-04). Arkansas State is one of three programs to ever win at least four total Sun Belt Conference championships, joining North Texas (4) and Troy (5)
ALL-TIME CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS: Including four of the last five Sun Belt Conference titles, Arkansas State has won 11 conference championships all-time. A-State won the Southland Conference seven times (1986, 1985, 1978, 1975, 1970, 1969, 1968). The Red Wolves also won the 2005 Sun Belt Conference title, but it was later vacated due to NCAA sanctions.
BOWL HISTORY: Arkansas State has played in 13 bowl games all-time and holds a 4-8-1 record in those contests. The Red Wolves have made a bowl game five consecutive years (2011-15) for the first time in school history. They played in the New Orleans Bowl last season and in the GoDaddy Bowl the four years prior to that, winning two of them during the 2012 and 2013 seasons. A-State also played in the 2005 New Orleans Bowl, which marked its first bowl appearance since 1970. Arkansas State played in seven bowl games from 1951-70, including the Pecan Bowl (1968-70), Tangerine Bowl (1952 & 1951) and the Refrigerator Bowl (1951-52). The Tangerine Bowl was played in Orlando, Fla., the Pecan Bowl in Arlington, Texas, and the Refrigerator Bowl in Evansville, Ind.
RUSHING RED WOLVES: While Arkansas State rushed for over 100 yards only once in its four non-conference games, it has now reached the mark in five of its first six Sun Belt games. There has been a stark contrast in A-State’s rushing production since beginning conference play as its 187.7 average over its last six outings is 106.9 yards per game higher than its non-conference average. The Red Wolves have actually rushed for at least 200 yards in three of their last six games, including a season-high 343 against Georgia Southern. A-State has won its last 11 games when rushing for at least 200 yards.
EXPLOSIVE PLAYS: Arkansas State increased its number of plays covering at least 20 yards each of its first four games this season, and the Red Wolves’ posted a season-high nine against both UCA and Georgia Southern. A-State is averaging 5.6 explosive plays (20+ yards) per game and has at least seven in four of its last seven contests.
PROTECTING THE FOOTBALL: A-State was able to reverse its turnover trend its last five games, turning the ball over just three times during that span after committing 12 combined over its previous three games. The Red Wolves haven’t committed a single turnover in four games this season and no more than one in each of its last five outings. The Red Wolves began the season without committing a turnover in its first two games, while it also didn’t have any versus ULM and Troy. Since joining the Sun Belt Conference in 2001, A-State had gone back-to-back games without a turnover only one other time -- its final regular-season game and bowl game of the 2012 season.
TWO-MINUTE OFFENSE: Twenty of Arkansas State’s 39 scoring drives this season have taken less than two minutes (51.2 percent) and just eight drives have consumed more than three minutes. Last year’s team tended to score in the same manner, taking less than two minutes on 35 of its 58 touchdown drives for a 60.3 percentage that ranked among the 10 highest in the nation.
300-PLUS: Dating back to the 2010 season, Arkansas State has posted at least 300 yards of total offense in 77 of its last 87 games (.885 percentage). A-State went over 300 yards in all 13 games during head coach Blake Anderson’s first season, reached the mark 11 times last year and has done so eight times this season.
400-PLUS: Arkansas State recorded a season-high 525 yards total offense against Georgia Southern and has hit the 400-yard mark 22 times over its last 36 games (61 percent) since 2014, which was Blake Anderson’s first season as head coach. A-State had increased its total offense each game this season prior to the South Alabama contest (first five games).
LIGHTING UP THE SCOREBOARD: Including the last four contests, the Red Wolves have now posted at least 30 points in 45 of their last 69 regular-season games (65 percent) dating back to the 2011 season. The Red Wolves have won 13 consecutive games and 33 of their last 37 when scoring at least 30 points. A-State broke the school record in 2015 for both points scored (520) and touchdowns scored (69). Additionally, the Red Wolves ranked 12th in the nation in scoring offense last year, averaging 40.0 points per game.
OVER 100: Senior wide receiver Kendall Sanders has seen his production increase over the last two games, posting 11 of his 26 receptions, 132 of 337 yards and three of his team-high four touchdown catches over that span. He recorded six receptions for 101 yards and two touchdowns, all career highs, during Arkansas State’s 41-22 win over NMSU, but also added five catches and another score to his resume last week versus Troy. Sanders is one of three A-State players this year to post over 100 yards receiving in a game, joining Cam Echols-Luper and Blake Mack.
NOW THAT’S JUSTICE: Since taking over as starting quarterback in the Central Arkansas game, sophomore Justice Hansen has helped lead the Red Wolves to a 6-1 record. During that span, Hansen has recorded at least two hundred passing yards four times, while also throwing multiple touchdown passes in four outings. He has thrown 13 touchdown passes (all but one over the last six games), which are only one shy of the 10th most in school history for a single season. Hansen has been named the Sun Belt Conference Offensive Player of the Week twice this season. He holds 139.4 pass efficiency rating for the entire season that is ranked second in the conference.
MAKING A MOVE: Junior Blake Mack changed positions from wide receiver to tight end this season, and he appears to have transitioned well as he already has 29 receptions for a team-high 522 yards and two touchdowns. His first two seasons combined at wide receiver, Mack posted 17 receptions for 235 yards. He caught eight passes for 142 yards against UCA, which were both career highs, and was named a Mackey Award Honorable Mention Tight End of the Week for his performance.
FINDING THE END ZONE: A former walk-on and Burlsworth Trophy nominee, junior running back Johnston White recorded a team and career-best 14 rushing touchdowns last season as a sophomore to give him 20 running scores during his career. He recorded a season-high two rushing touchdowns against Georgia State and has at least one in 11 of his last 19 games played. White’s 14 running scores last season tied the fifth most in school history. His 24 career rushing touchdowns are tied for the seventh most in school history. Additionally, he is ranked 43rd in the nation among active players in career rushing scores.
WAND BREAKS 1,000: Running back Warren Wand has run for a team-high 697 yards this season to go along with his 709 he recorded as a true freshman, pushing him over 1,000 for his career with 1,406 to his credit. His 709 yards were the most by a true freshman at A-State since Lamont Zachery ran for 846 yards in 1996.
16 OR LESS: Arkansas State has allowed 16 points or less in four of its last five games and given up a combined 58 points over that span, which is the lowest total for five consecutive games by the Red Wolves in their FBS history. Additionally, it is their lowest total at any level since allowing 55 over a five-game stretch during the 1986 season. The Red Wolves have won their last 38 straight games when holding their opponent to no more than 10 points. A-State has won 23 consecutive games when holding its opponent to 17 points or less.
DECEIVING AVERAGE: While A-State’s defense is allowing 396.5 yards total offense per game to rank 58th in the nation, the Red Wolves’ opponents are averaging 337.9 over the last eight games. The 337.9 average total offense allowed would rank the Red Wolves 19th in the nation. A-State gave up 556 yards to Toledo and 706 to Auburn, but has held seven of its last eight opponents to no more than 382 yards. It has limited its opponent to less than 300 yards in two outings this year, including last game versus Troy.
BETTER ON THIRD DOWN: Arkansas State has allowed opponents to convert, on average, 30 percent of its third-down attempts the last eight games, considerably lower than its 39 percent for the entire season that ranks 58th in the nation. A-State’s third-down conversion percentage over the last seven games would rank ninth in the country.
A LOSS ON THE PLAY: The Red Wolves had eight players combine for nine tackles for loss last game against Troy, giving them at least five stops behind the line of scrimmage in every game this year. The squad has now posted eight or more TFL in five of their last six contests. A-State has 80 TFL this season. The Red Wolves are averaging 8.0 tackles for loss, which is a higher average than it had last season (6.6) when it recorded 86. The Red Wolves’ 86 TFL last year were the most since 2011 and tied the program’s third most since gaining FBS status in 1992. A-State is ranked ninth in the nation this season in the stat.
PICK IT OFF: While A-State has just nine interceptions this year, eight of them came over the last five games and it recorded a season-high two versus, ULM, Georgia State and Troy. The Red Wolves led the nation in picks last year with a Sun Belt Conference record 26. Fifteen different players combined for those 26 picks that were the third most in school history and the most by an A-State team since the 1969 squad posted a school-record tying 32 (tied with the 1961 team).
PICK-SIX: Arkansas State posted its first pick-six this season two weeks again versus New Mexico State after recording six interception returns for a touchdown last year, which was the second most in Sun Belt Conference history and just two shy of the NCAA record currently held by the 2011 Southern Miss and 2012 SMU teams. While he coached on the offensive side of the ball, A-State head coach Blake Anderson was also a member of that 2011 Southern Miss team.
TURNOVER KINGS: Arkansas State, which forced at least one turnover in eight of its 10 games this season, ranked second in the nation in turnovers gained last year with 34. That total included 26 interceptions and eight fumble recoveries. They turned eight of those turnovers into defensive touchdowns, which led the nation. A-State’s 34 turnovers gained tied the 2002 team for the most by the Red Wolves since joining the FBS in 1992, and it was also the programs most at any level since 1988 when it had 39. The Red Wolves have recorded at least one turnover gained in 31 of 36 games played under defensive coordinator Joe Cauthen.
BUCKLE DOWN: A-State has been one of the most successful teams in the nation in fourth-down defense, limiting opponents to just four conversions on 16 attempts for a .250 percentage that ranks fourth in the nation. Since Sun Belt Conference play began, the Red Wolves have been even better as they have actually allowed just two conversions on 13 attempts for a .154 mark.
CSM HONORS CLIFTON: Sophomore defensive back Justin Clifton was named as College Sports Madness’ Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Week after recording a career-high two interceptions, five tackles and two tackles for loss during the Red Wolves’ 35-3 victory over Troy.
RECORD BREAKER: Senior safety Money Hunter was named the Sun Belt Conference Defensive player of the week after he became the Sun Belt Conference’s all-time leader in career interception returns for a touchdown, collecting his fourth during Arkansas State’s 41-22 victory over New Mexico State. He pushed his career interception return yards total to 268, which gave him the second most in Sun Belt history and the third most ever by an A-State player. He is also now tied for the most pick-six’s in the nation among active players, while his 268 return yards are the sixth most among the same group.
ODOM CONTINUES TO SHINE: Senior defensive end Chris Odom has come on strong this season, especially over the last five games with 19 tackles, eight tackles for loss, six sacks, three forced fumbles and a blocked kick over that span. Odom tallied a career-high three sacks against South Alabama and with at least two games remaining, he has already posted career-high totals for tackles (43), tackles for loss (11.0), sacks (8.0) and forced fumbles (3). In fact, his tackles, TFL, sacks and FF are all more than he had combined for his entire career entering this season. He was named the Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Week following A-State’s win over Troy.
SWALLEY NAMED SEMIFINALIST: Senior DL Jake Swalley was tabbed as one of the William V. Campbell Trophy’s 156 semifinalists, announced Sept. 28 by the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame (NFF). The award recognizes an individual as the best football scholar-athlete in the nation. Swalley, a general studies major, holds a cumulative 3.9 GPA and is on course to graduate in December.
DOUBLE-FIGURE STOPS: Senior linebacker Xavier Woodson-Luster recorded a double-figure tackles total during three of A-State’s first 10 games, including a career-tying 14 against both Toledo and Georgia Southern. He has now reached double figures in the tackles column nine times during his career. Woodson-Luster is ranked 34th in the nation among active players in career tackles with 266.
PLAYING IN THE BACKFIELD: Junior defensive end Ja’Von Rolland-Jones picked up one sack last game versus Troy, running his career total to 26 and tying Western Kentucky’s Quanterus Smith (2009-12) for the Sun Belt Conference record. He has recorded at least a half TFL in eight games this season and in 22 of his last 27 contests dating back to his freshman year. He also has a team-high 9.0 sacks this season, while his 26.0 career sacks are just two shy of the school record. He has tallied at least a half sack in 18 of his last 28 games.
SPECIAL TEAMS NOTES
BOOT IT AWAY: Freshman punter Damon Foncham recorded two punts inside the opponent’s 20 yard line last game against Troy, giving him at least one in the last eight consecutive games and 14 total for the season. He had at least one punt covering 50-plus yards for the third straight outing, running his total to six for the year. Five of those came over the last three games.
NICE RETURN: Sophomore running back Daryl Rollins-Davis has 12 kickoff returns this season for a team-high 344 yards, good enough for a 28.7 average that currently stands as the fourth highest in school history for a single season. Rollins-Davis posted a career-long 78 yard kickoff return against ULM, which was also the longest this season by an A-State player. He finished the ULM game with over 100 kickoff return yards for the second time of his career, and his 109 yards were also the second most of his career behind only his 126 versus Miami in 2014.
BLOCK PARTY: Senior defensive end Chris Odom recorded his first blocked kick (extra point) this season against Georgia State, but he posted a team-high three blocked kicks last season as a junior (tied third most in school history) and one as a sophomore. Now with five career blocks, he has the second most in school history behind only Jimmy Lisko’s eight from 1972-75. Odom recorded two blocks during the 2015 Georgia State game, his first coming on a field goal and the second on an extra point attempt. In the process, he became the seventh player in school history to record multiple blocks in the same game.