S. Alabama at ASU in-depth homecoming preview

S. Alabama at ASU in-depth homecoming preview

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S. ALABAMA (1-4, 0-1) AT ASU (3-3, 1-1)
6 p.m. Saturday, Liberty Bank Stadium, Jonesboro
Radio: 107.9 FM Jonesboro, 93.3 FM Little Rock)

ON TAP: Arkansas State continues Sun Belt Conference play Saturday, playing host to South Alabama at 6 p.m. in its 2012 homecoming game at Liberty Bank Stadium. Every A-State game can be heard live on 107.9 FM in the Jonesboro area, 93.3 in central Arkansas and via AStateRedWolves.com.


 SBC Defensive Player of Week
Qushaun Lee recorded 12
tackles and an INT at FIU.
THE PRINCIPALS: A-State moved its record to 3-3 and Sun Belt Conference mark to 1-1 with a 34-20 victory at Florida International last time out.  The Red Wolves have alternated wins and losses the first six weeks of the season and are looking for back-to-back victories for the first time since ending the 2011 regular season on a nine-game winning streak.  South Alabama, playing its first season in the Sun Belt Conference, brings a 1-4 overall record into Saturday's game and seeks its first win as a member of the league after dropping its conference opener 31-10 against Troy on Sept. 29.

THE ASU-USA SERIES: Saturday's game will be the first ever meeting between Arkansas State and South Alabama.

AN A-STATE VICTORY WOULD . . . :  Improve its all-time record in homecoming games to 57-27-1 and mark the ninth time in the past 10 seasons it has won the game . . . Give the Red Wolves back-to-back victories for the first time since winning its last nine regular-season games in 2011 . . . Improve its home record to 34-8 since the 2005 season.

McKISSIC HONORED:  Freshman WR J.D. McKissic was named College Sports Madness' Sun Belt Conference Offensive Player of the Week after his stellar performance against FIU.  He recorded his first career 100-yard receiving game, picking up 124 yards and a TD on five receptions. McKissic's 124 receiving yards are the most by an ASU player this season. He is the second ASU player to post 100 receiving yards in a game, joining Josh Jarboe (101 vs. Memphis).

LEE NAMED SBC DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK:  Sophomore linebacker Qushaun Lee was named the Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Week.  Lee recorded a game-high 12 tackles, an interception and a pass break-up during Arkansas State's 34-20 victory at Florida International.  Not including a 33-yard run on a fake punt, Lee led an ASU defense that limited the Golden Panthers to 308 yards and 3.9 yards per play.  The interception, his first of the season and third of his career, directly led to ASU's fourth touchdown of the game and a 27-10 lead for A-State.  Lee stepped in front of Loran Hammonds' pass at the FIU 28-yard line and returned it 2 yards to set up ASU's second third-quarter score.  Lee's 12 tackles were the second most of his career, just three short of his 15 recorded against Nebraska earlier this season.  Lee averages 8.6 tackles per game, the seventh highest average in the Sun Belt Conference.

HOMECOMING HISTORY:  Arkansas State is 56-27-1 all-time in Homecoming contests.  The Red Wolves have won eight of their last nine Homecoming games dating back to the 2003 season.  A-State had a seven-game winning streak on its Homecoming snapped in 2010 with a 34-24 setback to Louisville, but knocked off North Texas 37-14 last season.

·         0 sacks allowed by the offensive line in four of ASU's first six games.
·         1 ASU's 2012 recruiting class was ranked No. 1 in the Sun Belt by Rivals, ESPN.com, Scout and 247Sports.com.
·         1 ASU's rank in the Sun Belt Conference in rushing offense and pass defense.
·         1 field goal needed by Brian Davis to become ASU's fifth all-time leader in the stat.
·         2 rushing touchdowns needed by Ryan Aplin to tie the fifth most in school history for a career.
·         2 points needed by Brian Davis to take become ASU's fourth all-time leader in points by kicking.
·         2 A-State players (David Oku and Rod Smith) with a 100-yard rushing game this season.
·         3 touchdown passes needed by Ryan Aplin for the third most in Sun Belt Conference history for a career.
·         3 yards needed by Taylor Stockemer to take over fifth place at ASU for career receiving yards.
·         3 games this season with over 200 yards rushing by the ASU offense.
·         3 touchdown receptions needed by Taylor Stockemer to become ASU's career leader in the stat.
·         4 of the last seven seasons have seen Arkansas State achieve bowl eligibility with at least six victories.
·         4 games this season in which Brian Davis has made multiple field goals.
·         4 or more receptions by J.D. McKissic in every game this season.
·         5 consecutive games with at least a partial tackle for loss by Nathan Herrold.
·         5 games this season the ASU defense hasn't allowed 200 yards passing.
·         5.4 yards per rush by A-State, better than the single-season school record of 5.1 set in 1989.
·         6.1 yards per play by the ASU offense, which would be the highest in school history for a single season.
·         6.5 tackles for loss recorded by Tim Starson, the third most in the Sun Belt Conference.
·         7 consecutive winning seasons at Liberty Bank Stadium, including a 6-0 mark in 2011.
·         8 rushing yards needed by Ryan Aplin to become the Sun Belt's third all-time leader in the stat among QB's.
·         8 A-State games scheduled to be televised by ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU or ESPN3.com in 2012.
·         8 ASU's national rank in pass defense (158.2 yards per game).
·         8.7 tackles per game by Nathan Herrold, the sixth highest average in the Sun Belt Conference.
·         9 of the last 10 years the football team has won the Sun Belt Conference Team Academic Award.
·         10 receptions needed by Josh Jarboe to tie the 10th most in school for a career.
·         13 receptions by Josh Jarboe against Oregon, tying the most in ASU history.
·         15 statistical categories in which ASU ranks among the top half of the league, including total offense and defense.
·         15 first-time starters for A-State this season, tied for the 4th most in the nation.
·         17 A-State's national rank in rushing offense (232.2 yards per game).
·         17 completions needed by Ryan Aplin to become the Sun Belt's second all-time leader in the stat.
·         20 consecutive games with at least one sack recorded by the A-State defense.
·         21 combined single game, season and career school records held by Ryan Aplin.
·         22 seniors on the 2012 roster, including 12 redshirt seniors.
·         26 ASU's national rank in sacks allowed (1.2 per game).
·         27 ASU's national rank in total offense (470.8 yards per game).
·         35 consecutive games with a reception by Taylor Stockemer, the second most in the nation.
·         36 Ryan Aplin's national rank in total offense (271.8 ypg).
·         80 or more plays ran by the A-State offense in three of its first six games.
·         98 plays ran by the A-State offense against Memphis -- the most by an ASU team since 1975.
·         104 career receptions by Taylor Stockemer, making him one of 7 players in ASU history with 100+ catches.

·         184 yards needed by Ryan Aplin to become the Sun Belt's second all-time leader in passing yards.
·         300 yards or more of total offense recorded by ASU in 29 of its last 31 games.
·         400+ yards of total offense recorded by A-State in four of its first six games.

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 was one of seven inductees into Henderson State University's Reddie Hall of Honor on Saturday (Oct. 6).  The event took place at the Garrison Center Day Gym on the Henderson campus.  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 Sept. 8 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 vs. THE SUN BELT: A-State is 72-64-1 all-time against current members of the Sun Belt Conference. Since the league's inaugural football season in 2001, the Red Wolves hold a 43-37 on-field record against all opponents that have been a member of the league. Against current members of the conference, ASU is 38-33 since 2001.  The Red Wolves hold their most all-time victories against Louisiana-Monroe with 19.  With the exception of first-year member South Alabama, the Red Wolves have defeated every team in the SBC since the football league was formed.

SUN BELT CHAMPIONS:  Arkansas State claimed its first ever outright Sun Belt Conference championship in 2011.  Including last season, ASU has won eight conference championships all-time.  ASU won the Southland Conference seven times (1986, 1985, 1978, 1975, 1970, 1969, 1968).  ASU also won the 2005 Sun Belt Conference title, but it was later vacated due to NCAA sanctions.

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 33-8 at ASU Stadium since the 2005 season.  The Red Wolves actual on-field record all-time at Liberty Bank Stadium is 125-71-1 since it opened in 1974.  ASU's six home wins last season were its most since 1985.

ATTENDANCE FIGURES:  The Liberty Bank crowd of 25,160 for the ASU-WKU game made it the largest to ever watch A-State play a conference game in Jonesboro.  The next largest was 24,256 when ASU hosted Middle Tennessee in 2008 . . . ASU's first three home games all drew a crowd of over 20,000, marking the first time in school history the Red Wolves played three consecutive home games with 20,000-plus in attendance.  Not only that, 2011 and 2008 are the only other years that ASU had a home crowd of over 20,000 in three games over the course of an entire season.

ABOVE AVERAGE:  The A-State offense is averaging 6.1 yards per play, 470.8 yards per game and 5.4 yards per rush, all of which would break the school record for a single season.  The current school records for a season are 6.0 yards per play (2008), 447.8 yards per game (2011) and 5.1 yards per rush (1989).

PLAYING IN THE BACKFIELD:  Senior defensive end Tim Starson has a team-high 6.5 tackles for loss, but senior Nathan Herrold and junior Eddie Porter aren't far behind with 4 each.  Herrold has recorded at least a partial tackle for loss in the last five games, while Porter and Starson both have at least a partial tackle behind the line of scrimmage in four of the last five outings.

KNOCKING OFF THE FAVORITE:  Arkansas State's 34-20 victory over FIU last week marked the third consecutive year the Red Wolves defeated the top pick in the Sun Belt Conference preseason coaches poll.  ASU also defeated preseason favorite FIU last season and Middle Tennessee in 2010.

PERSONAL RECEIVING RECORDS:  Three ASU players, including J.D. McKissic, Anthony Kincy and Darion Griswold, set personal highs for receiving yards last game against FIU.  McKissic collected his first career 100-yard receiving game with 124 to his credit, while Griswold finished with 51 yards and Kincy 26.

TOPPING THE TOTAL OFFENSE CHARTS:  Senior quarterback Ryan Aplin broke the Sun Belt Conference record for total offense career yards during the FIU game, finishing the game with 273 yards to give 10,365 for his career.  Aplin passed ULM's Steve Jyles (10,234 yards from 2002-05) for the record.  Additionally, he is ranked third all-time in the league in completions (752) and passing yards (8,804) and fourth in touchdown passes (51) and rushing yards by a quarterback (1,561).

QUICK STRIKE OFFENSE:  Four of ASU's five scoring drives against FIU last week took less than two minutes, and 38 percent of all ASU's scoring drives have now been assembled in less than two minutes.  The Red Wolves have recorded 27 explosive plays (20+ yards), including five covering at least 50 yards.  A-State had its two longest plays of the year against FIU, a 74-yard pass from Ryan Aplin to J.D. McKissic and a 73-yard run by Rocky Hayes.  Five of ASU's six longest plays have occurred in the second quarter and the Red Wolves have had 10 total explosive plays in the second quarter - the most of any quarter.

300-PLUS:  Dating back to the 2010 season, Arkansas State has posted at least 300 yards of total offense 29 of its last 31 games.  ASU's 12-game streak with over 300 yards total offense came to an end just two games shy of the school record against Nebraska earlier this season.

A NEW START:  Arkansas State has 15 players who have started their first career game at the school this season, which ranks tied for the fourth most in the nation with East Carolina. Air Force leads the nation with 19 first-time starters this year.  Players with their first career start at ASU this season include David Oku (RB), Rocky Hayes (RB/WR), J.D. McKissic (WR), Aaron Williams (OL), Steven Haunga (OL), Bryce Giddens (OL), Alan Wright (OL), Ronnell Wright (DL), Shervarius Jackson (DE), Chris Stone (DE), Eddie Porter (LB/DE), Andrew Tryon (CB), Artez Brown (CB), Chris Humes (S) and Cole Lorigan (S).

ON A ROLL:  Senior wide receiver Taylor Stockemer has recorded at least one reception in his last 35 games played, ranking as the second most in the NCAA among all players.  Duke's Conner Vernon leads the nation with a catch in 41 straight games.

AT LEAST FOUR:  Redshirt freshman receiver J.D. McKissic has recorded at least four receptions in every game this season, including a career-high eight against Memphis, Nebraska and Western Kentucky.  He now has a team-high 39 catches to place him second in the Sun Belt Conference and tied for 32nd in the nation in receptions.  McKissic also has a team-best 452 receiving yards, which ranks third in the SBC.

HERALDED PEFORMANCE:  Senior linebacker Nathan Herrold recorded 11 tackles against both Oregon and Nebraska, giving him two games this year and five for his career with double-figure stops.  He now has a team-high 52 tackles, placing him tied for sixth in the Sun Belt Conference and tied for 62nd in the nation in tackles.  Herrold has also recorded at least a partial tackle for loss in the Red Wolves' last five games.

KICK IT INTO GEAR:  Junior kicker Brian Davis has made multiple field goals in four of ASU's six games this season and nine times during his career.  He needs three field goals and one point to tie the fourth most in school history for a career in both statistical categories.

MORE OFTEN THAN NOT:  Senior quarterback Ryan Aplin has tossed at least one touchdown in 30 of his last 34 games dating back to his freshman season.  Aplin has also thrown for at least 200 yards 26 times in his career and all 26 have come over ASU's last 33 games.  Additionally, he has 15 career games with over 300 yards total offense, including five of the last nine.

ACTIVE APLIN:  Senior quarterback Ryan Aplin is ranked among the top active players in the NCAA in several career statistics, including:
3rd, career total offense yards (10,365)
5th, career passing yards (8,804)
6th, career completions (752)
6th, career TD responsible for (79)
9th, career touchdown passes (51)
19th, career rushing touchdowns (27)

FIVE MORE SCHOOL RECORDS:  Senior quarterback Ryan Aplin has set five new school records this year, giving him 21 combined game, season and career records at ASU . . . His single-game records include most plays, total offense, most average yards per game,  passes attempted, completion percentage 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, total plays, most average yards per game, completions, pass attempts, highest completion percentage, touchdown passes and most passing yards per game.

THAT'S OFFENSIVE:  A-State's 634 yards of total offense against Alcorn State was the seventh most in school history and marked the second time this year the Red Wolves have recorded over 600 yards.  They also piled up 619 yards against Memphis, which were the most against an FBS opponent since recording a school-record 681 against Louisiana-Lafayette in 2007.  ASU has now posted at least 500 yards total offense in three of its first six games and 400 or more in four games.

LIGHTING UP THE SCOREBOARD: With 34 (vs. Oregon), 33 (vs. Memphis), 56 (vs. Alcorn State) and 34 (vs. FIU) points scored in four of its first six games this season, A-State has now posted at least 30 points in 12 of its last 17 regular-season games dating back to last season. Th

e Red Wolves scored 30 or more points in eight games during the 2011 season, the most since 1951 when it hit the total 10 times.

GETTING DEFENSIVE:  With its 56-0 win over Alcorn State, ASU recorded its first shutout since defeating Mississippi Valley State 61-0 in its 2009 season opener. ASU limited Alcorn State to just 2.2 yards per play, which tied the fifth lowest average for a game in Sun Belt Conference history.  ASU's defense allowed just 130 yards, which is the fewest since giving up 69 to Mississippi Valley State in 2009 as well.  The Red Wolves also held Memphis under 300 yards total offense, limiting the Tigers to 293 yards for the fewest by an ASU opponent since FAU recorded 281 last season.

REACHING THE CENTURY MARK:  Sophomore running back Rod Smith broke 100 yards rushing for the first time of his career against Alcorn State with a career-high 104 yards.  He is the second ASU player to rush for 100 yards in a game this season, joining David Oku (111 yards vs. Memphis).  A-State had a running back record over 100 yards in a rushing in a game only once all of last season.

MIDWEEK MONSTERS:  Historically, A-State has performed well in midweek games since joining the Sun Belt Conference.  Since the 2001 campaign, the Red Wolves hold an 8-3 record in all midweek games and a 6-2 mark when playing on Thursday.  ASU has won its last three midweek games, including a 34-20 victory over FIU last week on a Thursday night.

FCS WINNING STREAK EXTENDED:  Arkansas State extended its winning streak against FCS opponents to eight games with a 56-0 win over Alcorn State earlier this season.  The Red Wolves have won those eight games by a combined 426-60 score.  ASU improved to 19-4 against FCS opponents since moving to the FBS in 1992.

SENIOR CLASS AWARD:  Ryan Aplin has been named as one of just 30 candidates from across the nation for the 2012 Senior CLASS Award, annually recognizing an NCAA FBS senior with notable achievements in areas of community, classroom, character and competition.  An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the prestigious Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities.

CFPA RECOGNIZES APLIN:  The College Football Performance Awards recognized senior Ryan Aplin as an Honorable Mention National Quarterback of the Week following A-State's victory over Alcorn State.  Aplin only played in the first half, leading ASU to 42-0 lead at the break with 198 yards passing, another 24 rushing and three touchdown passes.  Aplin completed 12-of-13 pass attempts for a school-record .923 completion percentage.  His three touchdown tosses gave him 50 for his career, making him ASU's all-time leader in the stat and one of just four players in Sun Belt history to record at least 50 touchdown passes.  Aplin ended the game with 222 yards of total offense.

SULLIVENT HONORED:  Senior punter Neely Sullivent was announced as a College Football Performance Awards national honorable mention punter of the week following the Nebraska game.  Sullivent averaged 48 yards per punt against the Huskers, 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 has season average to 41.8 yards per punt to rank him third in the Sun Belt Conference.

RETURNING ALL-CONFERENCE PLAYERS:  A-State returns five 2011 All-Sun Belt Conference players this season, including the league's Player of the Year in senior quarterback Ryan Aplin.  Aplin was a first-team selection and was joined by second-team choices Josh Jarboe (Sr., WR) and Nathan Herrold (Sr., LB).  Returning as honorable mention choices are senior wideout Taylor Stockemer and senior punter Neely Sullivent.

SUN BELT CHAMPIONS:  Arkansas State claimed its first ever outright Sun Belt Conference championship last season.  Including 2011, Arkansas State has won eight conference championships all-time.  ASU won the Southland Conference seven times (1986, 1985, 1978, 1975, 1970, 1969, 1968).  ASU also won the 2005 Sun Belt Conference championship, but it was later vacated due to NCAA sanctions.


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