A-State at Kansas State in-depth preview

A-State at Kansas State in-depth preview

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A-State (0-1) at Kansas State (0-0)
TIME: 11 a.m. Saturday
PLACE: Manhattan, Kan.
RADIO: EAB Red Wolves Network (107.9 FM Jonesboro, 106.7 FM Little Rock)
TV: FS1
LIVE STATS: AStateStats.com
LIVE STATS: twitter.com/AStateGameDay

THE PRINCIPALS:  One week after falling 37-24 at Memphis in its season opener, the Red Wolves are set to face their second straight opponent receiving votes in the top-25 Coaches Poll.  A-State will be one of just 15 FBS teams to have played a game this season entering Saturday’s slate of games.  The Wildcats are set to  play their season opener after finishing their 2019 campaign with an 8-5 record and appearance in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl.  K-State holds an 85-34-5 record all-time in season openers and has won its last six home openers to run its all-time record in such games to 92-27-5.

AN A-STATE VICTORY WOULD . . . :  give the Red Wolves their second win over a Power 5 conference opponent since moving to FBS status in 1992 . . . mark its second all-time victory against a Big 12 Conference opponent . . . move its all-time record against Kansas State to 1-2 . . . give the Red Wolves a 1-1 record after two games for the fourth consecutive year . . . snap the Wildcats six-game winning streak in home openers . . . mark just the eighth time an opponent has defeated Kansas State over its last 84 regular-season non-conference home games.

A-STATE VS. K-STATE SERIES:  Arkansas State is set to face Kansas State for just the third time in school history, last meeting 40 years ago in 1980.  The two programs first played in 1948 and each of the previous two contests were played in Manhattan, Kan.  The Wildcats claimed victories in both games, winning 31-7 and 37-6 in 1948 and 1980, respectively.

A-STATE vs BIG 12 CONFERENCE:  The last time A-State played a Big 12 opponent was 2009 when it faced then-member Nebraska before the Huskers moved to the Big Ten Conference.  While the Red Wolves haven’t faced a Big 12 opponent the last 10 seasons, it played at least one member of the league every year from 2003-09.  A-State holds a 1-15 record in games against Big 12 opponents, with its lone win coming 18-14 over Texas A&M in 2008 at Kyle Field.

FOR STARTERS:  Six players made their first career start at A-State last week against Memphis, including senior wide receivers Brandon Bowling and Dahu Green, senior running back Jamal Jones, senior CB Tahj Herring-Wilson, senior LB Justin Rice and senior DE Noel Iwuchukwu.  Additionally, 15 of the 55 A-State players who saw action last week at Memphis earned their first playing time with the Red Wolves (Javan Hawes, Rashauud Paul, CJ Harris, Lincoln Pare, Kenneth Harris, Antwon Fegans, Trevian Thomas, Fred Hervey, Taylon Doss, Vidal Scott, Ryan Hanson, Avery Demmons, Giles Amos, Justin Rice, Tahj Herring-Wilson).

BY THE NUMBERS...
1 of just two all-time programs to win five Sun Belt Conference championships.

2 consecutive road games to start an A-State season for the first time since 2010.

3 times during his career that Blake Grupe has been named the SBC Special Teams Player of the Week.

4 consecutive years A-State had a player named the Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year.

5 A-State players on a major award watch list (J. Adams, A. Harris, Horst, Grupe, Murray)

5 Sun Belt Conference titles (2011-13, 2015, 2016) over the last nine seasons (2011-19).

6 A-State players named Preseason All-Sun Belt Conference.

7 or more victories each of the last nine seasons (2011-19) -- first time in school history.

9 offensive starters, including all five offensive linemen, returning from the 2019 season.

9 straight bowl-game appearances (2011-19) - school record & the 14th longest active streak in the nation.

9 consecutive winning seasons (2011-19) by A-State for the first time in school history.

11 all-time Sun Belt Conference Team Academic Awards, including four of the last five years.

12 of the last 15 seasons (2005-19) have seen A-State reach bowl eligibility, including the last 9 in a row.

15 FBS teams, including A-State, who will have already played a game entering Saturday’s slate of games.

15 consecutive seasons with a winning record at Centennial Bank Stadium (2005-19).

30 or more points scored by A-State in 70 of its last 107 regular-season games (65 percent).

36 all-time Sun Belt wins under Blake Anderson are the second most in league history by any head coach.

47 of the last 51 games the A-State defense has recorded at least one sack.

47 victories under Blake Anderson (2014-19) are the most by an A-State head coach over his first 6 seasons.

49 of the last 56 games with at least 5.0 tackles for loss by the A-State defense.

56 Sun Belt Conference victories over the last nine (2011-19) seasons (56-17 league record).

61.7 winning pct. (79-49) from 2010-19 for A-State was the 2nd highest in program history for any decade.

75 victories by A-State over the last 10 seasons (2011-20) ranks tied for the 24th most in the nation.

88 all-time Sun Belt victories by A-State -- the most in the history of the league by any program.

300 or more yards total offense in 108 of last 129 games (84%), including all but five under Blake Anderson.

400 or more yards total offense in 54 of 78 games (69%) during the Blake Anderson era.

HEAD COACH BLAKE ANDERSON:  Blake Anderson, a 19-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 coach on Dec. 19, 2013.  Anderson led the Red Wolves to Sun Belt Conference championships in 2015 and 2016, as well as six consecutive winning seasons and six bowl-game appearances (2019 and 2017 Camellia Bowl, 2018 Arizona Bowl, 2016 Cure Bowl, 2015 New Orleans Bowl, 2014 GoDaddy Bowl) during his first six years leading the program.  Under his direction, the Red Wolves have set 12 new single-season records, including average yards total offense (494.8 ypg in 2017), total offense (6,174 yards in 2014) and points scored (520 in 2015).  Following the 2019 season, Anderson received the Capital One Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award and was named the Grant Teaff Coach of the Year, presented annually by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

FAST START:  Out of 30 all-time head coaches at Arkansas State, Blake Anderson became one of just four to win at least seven games in his first season (2014) at the school.  The other head coaches to win at least seven games in their first season as head coach at A-State were Bryan Harsin (2013), Gus Malzahn (2012) and Hugh Freeze (2011).

SIX YEARS RUNNING:  Blake Anderson is the only head coach in Arkansas State history to win 47 or more games over his first six years at the school.  Additionally, he is one of just three head coaches at A-State to  ever direct the program to at least 47 wins in 77 or fewer games -- Forrest England won 48 games over the same span between 1946-53 and Bennie Ellender won 52 times over his 76 games total games between 1963-70.

DOUBLE DIGITS:  Including three victories last season, 38 of the Red Wolves’ 47 wins under head coach Blake Anderson have come by 10 or more points.  At the same time five of their nine single-digit victories under Anderson were posted last season.  That was the program’s most single-digit wins in one year since the 1982 season when it also had five.  Arkansas State has outscored its opponents 1,967-969 in the 47 wins under Anderson for a 21.2-point average scoring difference.

CLIMBING THE LADDER:  Blake Anderson has led the Red Wolves to a pair of Sun Belt titles and collected 36 league wins along the way, which are the second most ever by any of the conference’s all-time head coaches.

WATCH ME, WATCH ME:  A-State has five players on at least one major watch list for the 2020 season, including four offensive players and one specialist.

BILETNIKOFF:  Jonathan Adams, Sr., WR

WUERFFEL:  Andre Harris Jr., Jr., OL

OUTLAND:  Jarrett Horst, Jr., OL

LOU GROZA:  Blake Grupe, Jr., K

DOAK WALKER:  Marcel Murray, Jr., RB

BOWL ELIGIBLE:  Arkansas State has obtained bowl eligibility status each of the previous nine years (2011-19) and 12 times over the previous 15 seasons.  Arkansas State has become bowl eligible in 10 games or less each of those seasons.  Since moving to FBS status in 1992, the earliest A-State ever became bowl eligible was in 2011 when it was 6-2 through eight games.

BOWL STREAK:  Arkansas State has made a school-record nine consecutive bowl-game appearances (2011-19), which is the third longest streak in the Group of 5 and ranks 14th in the nation among all FBS programs.

DECADE BY DECADE:  The Red Wolves won 79 games from 2010-19, which were the most in a decade in a program history.  Five of A-State’s all-time 12 conference titles also came during the 2010s.  The Red Wolves .617 winning percentage (79-49) last decade was the second highest for a decade in program history.  Arkansas State had a .627 winning percentage (66-39-1) from 1970-79, including two 11-0 seasons (1970-75).  The program’s third best winning percentage (.609) for a single decade came from 1960-69 (54-34-4).  A-State had nine winning seasons last decade, by far the most for a decade in program history.  The previous record for winning seasons in a decade was six in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s 

A-STATE vs THE SUN BELT:  Arkansas State has won 56 of its last 71 Sun Belt Conference games (.789 winning percentage) to run its all-time record in the league to 88-51.  The Red Wolves hold their most all-time victories against ULM with 27.  A-State has defeated every team in the conference since the football league was formed in 2001.  Along with ULM and Louisiana, A-State is one of three teams that have been a part of the conference since its inaugural football season.

HOME SWEET HOME:  Arkansas State has strung together 15 consecutive years (2005-19) with a winning record at Centennial Bank Stadium dating back to 2005.  The Red Wolves are now 68-17 (.800 winning percentage) since the 2005 season and have won 43 of their last 53 home outings.  The Red Wolves actual on-field record all-time at Centennial Bank Stadium is 160-80-1 since it opened in 1974.  A-State’s six home wins in 2011 were its most since 1985.  The 2011 season also marked the last time the Red Wolves went undefeated at Centennial Bank Stadium.

NON-CONFERENCE HISTORY:  In 2019, Arkansas State produced a .500 or better non-conference record for the second consecutive season, third time under head coach Blake Anderson and fifth time over the last nine seasons, but just the sixth time since moving to FBS status in 1992 (1995, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2018, 2019).  A-State posted a winning non-conference record (3-1) in 2018 for the first time since 1995 (3-2).

NINE STRAIGHT:  Arkansas State has secured a winning record in a school-record nine consecutive seasons (2011-19).  The next longest streak was six straight seasons from 1912-17.  The Red Wolves piled up 75 victories from 2011-19 for its most over a nine-year span in the program’s 106-year history. 

ELITE COMPANY:  Arkansas State is one of just four teams in the nation to win at least five conference titles and appear in nine bowl games since 2011, joining Alabama, Clemson and Oklahoma.  The Red Wolves won the Sun Belt title in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2016 and hold the 14th longest active streak in the nation for bowl game appearances with nine.

106TH SEASON:  Arkansas State kicked off its 106th season of football Sept. 5 against Memphis at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.  A-State holds a 481-493-37 record since the inaugural season and has played in 17 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.

SUN BELT CHAMPS (5 of 9):  The Red Wolves most recently won back-to-back Sun Belt titles in 2015 and 2016, compiling a 15-1 league record over that span.  A-State also won the league title 2011-13, making it one of just two programs in league history with at least five SBC titles.  The other is Troy (2017, 2010, 2009, 2007, 2006).

OFFENSIVE NOTES
300-PLUS:
  Dating back to the 2010 season, Arkansas State has posted at least 300 yards total offense in 117 of its last 129 games (.907 percentage).  A-State has produced 300 yards in 72 of 78 games during the Blake Anderson era.

400-PLUS:  Arkansas State has hit the 400-yard total offense mark 54 times over its last 78 games (69 percent) since 2014, which was Blake Anderson’s first season as head coach.  The Red Wolves have posted 400 or more yards total offense in 18 of their last 21 games.

LIGHTING UP THE SCOREBOARD:  The Red Wolves have posted at least 30 points in 70 of their last 107 regular-season games (65 percent) dating back to the 2011 season.  The Red Wolves have won 55 of their last 64 games when scoring at least 30 points.

CAREER GAME:  A pair of A-State senior receivers set new career highs during the Red Wolves’ game at Memphis, including Dahu Green and Bubba Ogbebor.  Green accounted for a career-best 99 yards on five catches, which tied his career high.  Ogbebor finished with four receptions for 45 yards -- both career highs.  Green and Ogbebor also posted the longest receptions of their career covering 39 and 26 yards, respectively.

DEFENSIVE NOTES
A LOSS ON THE PLAY
:  Dating back to the 2015 season, the Red Wolves have posted at least five stops behind the line of scrimmage in 49 of their last 56 games.  A-State has ranked among the top 13 teams in the nation three of the last four seasons (2016-19) in tackles for loss.

GETTING TO THE QB:  A-State has ranked among the top 27 teams in the nation in sacks four of the previous six years (2014-19), posting a combined 202 sacks over that span.  The Red Wolves have recorded at least one sack in 47 of their last 51 games dating back to the 2016 season.

PICK IT OFF:  Dating back to last season, A-State has intercepted at least one pass its last three games in a row and continues to be an opportunistic defense over the last seven seasons (2014-20) when the ball has been put in the air. During that time span, A-State has intercepted 92 passes that rank as the ninth most in the nation.  Since 2014, San Diego State ranks No. 1 with 105 interceptions.

FORCING TURNOVERS:  Arkansas State has recorded at least one turnover gained in 64 of its last 78 games dating back to the 2014 season.  The Red Wolves have ranked among the top 30 teams in the nation in turnovers gained three of the last seven years (2014-20), and their combined 148 forced turnovers over that span are the 10th most in the nation.

DEFENSE IS THE BEST OFFENSE:  Arkansas State has ranked among the top 21 teams in the nation in defensive touchdowns each of the previous six seasons (2014-19).  In fact, the 2015 season saw the Red Wolves record an FBS-high eight touchdowns.  The Red Wolves have 25 total defensive touchdowns over the previous six seasons.

ON THE STOP:  Sophomore cornerback Jarius Reimonenq recorded a career-high 11 tackles for loss, including a team-best two tackles for loss, during the Red Wolves’ road game at Memphis.  Ten of his 11 stops were solo tackles and his two tackles behind the line of scrimmage tied his career high.  Reimonenq also finished the Red Wolves’ season opener with one pass break-up, which came in the end zone on a third-down play to help hold Memphis to a field goal.

SPECIAL TEAMS NOTES
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: 
Junior kicker Blake Grupe was named the Sun Belt Conference Special Teams Player of the Week after connecting  on his only field goal try and converting all three of his extra point attempts to finish the Red Wolves’ season opener at Memphis with six points.  Grupe earned the recognition for the third time of his career, also collecting the honor twice last season as a sophomore.


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