ASU at Louisiana in-depth preview
ASU (4-3, 2-1) at Louisiana (4-2, 2-1)
7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 23
ON TAP: Following its first open week of the year, Arkansas State carries a five-game road winning streak against conference opponents into its Tuesday night matchup against Louisiana at Cajun Field. The game will be televised by ESPN2, and 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 via AstateRedWolves.com.
THE PRINCIPALS: Winner in three of its last four games, A-State moved its record to 4-3 and Sun Belt Conference mark to 2-1 with a 36-29 home victory last week over South Alabama. The Red Wolves have won back-to-back games for the first time since ending the 2011 regular season on a nine-game winning streak. The Ragin' Cajuns had a two-game winning streak snapped with a 30-23 setback at North Texas their last time out, but remain undefeated at home with a 3-0 record that includes double-digit wins against Lamar, FIU and Tulane.
AN A-STATE VICTORY WOULD . . . : Extend its winning streak in road conference games to six . . . Snap a seven-game road skid against UL and give the Red Wolves their first victory in Lafayette since 1992 . . . Give it 19 all-time victories against UL, which would match its most all-time wins against any Sun Belt Conference team . . . Give it 11 wins over its last 12 conference games . . . Improve its record in midweek games to 9-4 since 2001 and give it four straight midweek victories.
THE ASU-UL SERIES: Arkansas State holds an all-time on-field record of 18-21-1 against Louisiana in the series that dates back to the 1953 season. As Sun Belt Conference opponents, Louisiana leads the series 6-4, but the Red Wolves snapped a two-game skid against the Ragin' Cajuns with 30-20 victory in Jonesboro last season. The home team has won 10 of the last 11 meetings. Nine of the last 12 meetings have been decided by six points or less. UL has won the last seven meetings between the two teams in Lafayette, with ASU's last road win against the Ragin' Cajuns coming 20-7 in 1992. Tuesday's game will be the 41st meeting all-time between ASU and Louisiana. A-State's 40 games played against the Ragin' Cajuns are the second most against any opponent in school history behind only its 57 played against 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.
DE Tim Starson
BY THE NUMBERS . . .
· 0 sacks allowed by the offensive line in four of ASU's first seven 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.
· 2 A-State players (David Oku and Rod Smith) with a 100-yard rushing game this season.
· 2 touchdown receptions needed by Taylor Stockemer to become ASU's career leader in the stat.
3 games this season with over 200 yards rushing by the ASU offense.
· 4 field goals needed by Brian Davis to become ASU's fourth all-time 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 games this season the ASU defense hasn't allowed 200 yards passing.
· 5.1 yards per rush by A-State, matching the single-season school record set in 1989.
· 6 consecutive games with at least a partial tackle for loss by Nathan Herrold.
· 6.1 yards per play by the ASU offense, which would be the highest in school history for a single season.
· 7.0 tackles for loss recorded by Tim Starson, the fifth most in the Sun Belt Conference.
· 7 consecutive winning seasons at Liberty Bank Stadium, including a 6-0 mark in 2011.
· 7 rushing yards needed by Ryan Aplin to become the Sun Belt's third all-time leader in the stat among QB's.
· 7 receptions needed by Josh Jarboe to tie the 10th most in school history for a career.
· 8 A-State games scheduled to be televised by ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU or ESPN3.com in 2012.
· 9 of the last 10 years the football team has won the Sun Belt Conference Team Academic Award.
· 9.9 tackles per game by Nathan Herrold, tied for the 22nd highest average in the nation.
· 10 ASU's national rank in pass defense (170.0 yards per game).
· 13 receptions by Josh Jarboe against Oregon, tying the most in ASU?history.
· 15 first-time starters for A-State this season, tied for the 4th most in the nation.
· 17 statistical categories in which ASU ranks among the top half of the league, including total offense and defense.
· 21 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.
· 27 completions needed by Ryan Aplin to break the Sun Belt's current record for career completions.
· 28 A-State's national rank in rushing offense (215.1 yards per game).
· 29 ASU's national rank in sacks allowed (1.3 per game).
· 36 ASU's national rank in total offense (448.7 yards per game).
· 36 consecutive games with a reception by Taylor Stockemer, the second most in the nation.
· 40 Ryan Aplin's national rank in total offense (262.1 ypg).
· 40 games all-time between A-State and UL, the second most against any opponent in ASU history.
· 46 receptions by J.D. McKissic, the most ever by an Arkansas State freshman.
· 53 yards needed by Taylor Stockemer to take over fourth place at ASU for career receiving yards.
· 108 career receptions by Taylor Stockemer, making him one of 7 players in ASU history with 100+ catches.
· 300 yards or more of total offense recorded by ASU in 30 of its last 32 games.
· 400+ yards of total offense recorded by A-State in four of its first seven games.
· 438 passing yards by Ryan Aplin against UL in 2010, the most ever by a UL opponent at Cajun Field.
· 1992 was the last year Arkansas State picked up a road victory at UL.
COACHING RECOGNITION: First-year Arkansas State head 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.
A-STATE vs. THE SUN BELT: A-State is 73-64-1 all-time against current members of the Sun Belt Conference. Since the league's inaugural football season in 2001, the Red Wolves hold a 44-37 on-field record against all opponents that have been a member of the league. Against current members of the conference, ASU is 39-33 since 2001. The Red Wolves hold their most all-time victories against Louisiana-Monroe with 19. 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.
APLIN NAMED A FINALIST FOR SENIOR CLASS AWARD: Senior quarterback Ryan Aplin was named as one of 10 finalists for the 2012 Senior CLASS Award on Oct. 18 . . . Aplin was one of 30 original candidates from across the nation for the award, which annually recognizes 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 . . . The finalists were chosen by a media committee from the list of 30 candidates announced in September. Nationwide fan voting begins immediately to help select the winner. Fans are encouraged to vote on the Senior CLASS Award website through December 3. Fan votes will be combined with media and Division I head coaches' votes to determine the winner. The Senior CLASS Award winner will be announced during the 2012-13 bowl season.
HERROLD NAMED SBC DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Senior linebacker Nathan Herrold was named the Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Week following the Red Wolves' 36-29 victory over South Alabama. Herrold registered a career-high 17 tackles and posted his first career pass interception. Herrold's 17 stops in the contest were the most by a Sun Belt Conference player and tied for the 13th most tackles in a game nationally this season. His tackles output against South Alabama represented the most by an A-State player since 2005 when Tyrell Johnson racked up a SBC record 25 stops against North Texas. Herrold's recognition represented the second time this season an A-State defensive player has claimed a league weekly honor. Sophomore linebacker Qushaun Lee earned the league's weekly distinction the week prior (Oct. 8).
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. ASU has won its last three midweek games, including a 34-20 victory over FIU?on a Thursday night earlier this year.
"PICKING" IT UP: While the A-State defense recorded only one interception over its first three games, it has now posted four picks over the last four games. The Red Wolves have recorded at least one interception in three of the last four games, including a season-high two against Florida International. All five interceptions this season have been recorded by different players.
ABOVE AVERAGE: The A-State offense is averaging 6.1 yards per play, 448.7 yards per game and 5.1 yards per rush, all of which would break or tie 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 7.0 tackles for loss, but senior Nathan Herrold isn't far behind with 4.5. Herrold has recorded at least a partial tackle for loss in the last six games, while Starson has at least a partial tackle behind the line of scrimmage in five of the last six outings.
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 second all-time in the league in completions (769) and passing yards (9,007), third in touchdown passes (54) and fourth in rushing yards by a quarterback (1,562).
CONTROLLING THE INTERIOR: Junior Ryan Carrethers recorded a career-high 10 tackles for the second time this season last game against South Alabama from his interior defensive line position. Not only is Carrethers ranked fourth on the team and tied for 24th in the Sun Belt in tackles among all players, he easily leads the league in tackles by all defensive linemen with 45 (6.4 per game) to his credit. In fact, he is the only defensive lineman in the league ranked among the top 50 players in tackles.
BEST TOTALS SINCE 2009: Just seven games into the season, senior running back David Oku's 544 rushing yards and seven touchdowns are both already the most by an ASU running back since Reggie Arnold recorded 723 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2009. Oku leads the team in rushing yards and is ranked fourth in the Sun Belt Conference.
300-PLUS: Dating back to the 2010 season, Arkansas State has posted at least 300 yards of total offense 30 of its last 32 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 five other teams. Hawai'i leads the nation with 25 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 36 games played, ranking as the second most in the NCAA among all players. Duke's Conner Vernon leads the nation with a catch in 42 straight games. Stockemer had his best game of the year last time out, recording season highs of four receptions for 65 yards and a touchdown.
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 46 catches to place him first in the Sun Belt Conference and tied for 24th in the nation in receptions. McKissic also has a team-best 493 receiving yards, which ranks third in the SBC.
HERALDED PEFORMANCE: Senior linebacker Nathan Herrold recorded a career-high 17 tackles against South Alabama, giving him three games this year (11 at both Oregon and Nebraska) and six for his career with double-figure stops. He now has a team-high 69 tackles, placing him second in the Sun Belt Conference and tied for 22nd in the nation in tackles per game (9.9). Herrold has also recorded at least a partial tackle for loss in the Red Wolves' last six games.
KICK IT INTO GEAR: Junior kicker Brian Davis has made multiple field goals in four of ASU's seven games this season and nine times during his career. He needs three field goals to tie the fourth most in school history for a career.
MORE OFTEN THAN NOT: Senior quarterback Ryan Aplin has tossed at least one touchdown in 31 of his last 35 games dating back to his freshman season. Aplin has also thrown for at least 200 yards 27 times in his career and all 27 have come over ASU's last 34 games. Additionally, he has 15 career games with over 300 yards total offense, including five of the last 10.
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 (10,569)
5th, career passing yards (9,002)
5th, career TD responsible for (83)
6th, career completions (769)
9th, career touchdown passes (54)
16th, career rushing touchdowns (28)
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 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 seven games and 400 or more in four games.
LIGHTING UP THE SCOREBOARD: After scoring 33 or more points in five games this year, A-State has now posted at least 30 points in 13 of its last 18 regular-season games dating back to last season. The 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 was 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.
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 34-8 at ASU Stadium since the 2005 season. The Red Wolves actual on-field record all-time at Liberty Bank Stadium is 126-71-1 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 four home games all drew a crowd of over 20,000, marking the first time in school history the Red Wolves played four consecutive home games with 20,000-plus in attendance. Not only that, this is the first time ASU has had crowds of over 20,000 in four games over the course of an entire season.
HOMECOMING HISTORY: Arkansas State improved to 57-27-1 all-time in homecoming contests with its victory over South Alabama. The Red Wolves have now won nine of their last 10 Homecoming games dating back to the 2003 season.
KNOCKING OFF THE FAVORITE: Arkansas State's 34-20 victory over FIU earlier this year 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.
LEE NAMED SBC DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Sophomore linebacker Qushaun Lee was named the Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Week on Oct. 8. Lee recorded a game-high 12 tackles, an interception and a pass break-up during Arkansas State's 34-20 victory at Florida International. Lee's 12 tackles were the second most of his career, just three short of his 15 recorded against Nebraska earlier this 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.
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.
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.