W. Kentucky at ASU in-depth
WESTERN KENTUCKY at ASU
2 p.m. Saturday, Jonesboro
ON TAP: Arkansas State will close out a three-game home stand, its longest since the 2008 season, Saturday with a 2 p.m. matchup against Western Kentucky on the Red Wolves' annual Senior Day. Every A-State game can be heard live on 107.9 FM?in the Jonesboro area, 88.3 FM in Little Rock and at AStateRedWolves.com.
THE PRINCIPALS: Arkansas State takes a 3-1 record at ASU?Stadium into its final home game of the season, while Western Kentucky holds a 1-4 road record with its lone victory coming 54-21 at Louisiana-Lafayette on Oct. 23. ASU has won three of its last four games, including the last two in a row, and carries a three-game Sun Belt Conference winning streak into Saturday's contest. After defeating the Ragin' Cajuns, the Hilltoppers dropped their last two games at home against North Texas and Florida Atlantic.
ASU RB DEREK LAWSON
AN A-STATE VICTORY WOULD . . .: Give ASU?four consecutive league victories for the first time since the 1986 season when it was a member of the Southland Conference . . . Give ASU?three consecutive victories overall for the first time since the 2006 campaign . . . Give ASU?five Sun Belt Conference victories, matching its most ever in the league. A-State had five SBC wins in 2005 . . . Improve the Red Wolves' record at ASU?Stadium to 4-1 this season and 33-11 all-time under head coach Steve Roberts . . . Give ASU?at least a tie for the most league wins in the conference with five . . . Push the Red Wolves record to .500 through 10 games for the fifth time under head coach Steve Roberts, including the 2005 season when A-State played in the New Orleans Bowl.
SENIOR DAY: The Red Wolves will hold their annual Senior Day this Saturday, recognizing their senior class for their contributions to Arkansas State University and the football program. This year's 21 seniors are: Jeff Blake, Tom Castilaw, Sifa Etu, Adam Gaston, Darius Glover, Bryan Hall, Lucious Henderson, Drew Hilton, Tyson Holligan, M.D. Jennings, Alex Kautai, Alfred Louis, Javon McKinnon, Walter Moody, Derek Newton, Dominic Padrta, Kiano Prater, Anthony Robinson, Isaiah Shepard, Jonathan White and Marquette Williams.
STATISTICALLY SPEAKING: Saturday's game will pit the conference's No. 2 ranked pass defense in WKU (194.0 yards allowed per game) against the league's No. 2 pass offense in ASU?(268.2 yards per game). WKU?is also giving up 379.4 yards per game to rank third in the SBC?in total defense, while ASU?is averaging 413.3 yards per game to rank second in the SBC?in total offense. On the other side of the ball, WKU is ranked No. 1 in red zone offense with an 87 percent success rate, while ASU's defense is allowing opponent's to score on just 69 percent of their trips in the red zone to rank second in the conference.
THE ARKANSAS STATE-WESTERN KENTUCKY SERIES: Arkansas State is 2-1-1 all-time versus Western Kentucky. The Red Wolves pulled out a 24-20 comeback victory over the Hilltoppers last season in the first meeting between the two teams in 57 years. ASU and WKU first met during the 1947 season when they played to a 14-14 tie. The very next year, ASU picked up a 13-12 victory. WKU evened the series with a 34-19 victory in the 1952 Refrigerator Bowl played in Evansville, Ind. During the Refrigerator Bowl, the Hilltoppers overcame an opening 73-yard drive on ASU's first possession to improve their record to 9-1. They scored 34 unanswered points before a pair of fourth quarter ASU touchdowns made it more respectable. ASU had to play without All-America running back Richie Woit, sidelined with a broken ankle, during the game.
THE LAST TIME vs. WESTERN KENTUCKY: BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (12/3/09) - The Arkansas State defense set the stage for one late touchdown, then put the final points on the board as the Red Wolves rallied from a 20-10 fourth-quarter deficit to defeat Western Kentucky 24-20 in the season finale for both teams at L.T. Smith Stadium.
With ASU trailing 20-17, senior defensive end Alex Carrington returned Western Kentucky quarterback Kawaun Jakes' fumble 27 yards for a touchdown with 3:49 remaining to put the Red Wolves on top, and the Hilltoppers did not get past their own 23 on their final two possessions.
The Red Wolves pulled within striking distance when quarterback Ryan Aplin connected with tight end J.T. Jordan from four yards out with 5:30 remaining to cut Western Kentucky's lead to 20-17. The touchdown was set up when freshman linebacker Nick Nelms intercepted Jakes at the Hilltopper 47 and returned the pickoff 43 yards to the WKU four.
HEAD COACH STEVE ROBERTS: Arkansas State head coach Steve Roberts is in his ninth year at Arkansas State after leading the Red Wolves to the 2005 Sun Belt Conference Championship and to bowl eligible seasons three of the last five years. During his first eight seasons as the Red Wolves' head coach, he guided ASU to 41 wins for its most over an eight-year span at the school since 1985-1992. Roberts was named the 2005 Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year. Under Roberts, the Red Wolves have had 70 All-Sun Belt Conference selections, a Sun Belt Conference Freshman of the Year, SBC Offensive Player of the Year, two SBC?Defensive Players of the Year and an SBC?Newcomer of the Year.
DOUBLE DUTY: A-State head coach Steve Roberts is one of just 12 coaches in the FBS that in addition to handling responsibilities as a head coach, also works as a position coach. Roberts has coached special teams since his arrival at ASU in 2002. Below is a list of head coaches in the FBS who also are position coaches:
ASU, Steve Roberts (Special Teams)
Ball State, Stan Parrish (Quarterbacks)
BYU, Bronco Mendenhall (Def. Tackles)
UConn, Randy Edsall (Safeties)
Kent State, Doug Martin (Quarterbacks)
Louisiana, Rickey Bustle (PK, LS and PR)
UL Monroe, Todd Berry (Quarterbacks)
Nevada, Chris Ault (Quarterbacks)
San Diego St., Brady Hoke (Defensive Line)
Tulsa, Todd Graham (Safeties)
Utah State, Gary Andersen (Def. Tackles)
Virginia Tech, Frank Beamer (Kickers)
ROBERTS CLIMBING VICTORIES LADDER: Through his first eight-plus seasons as the Red Wolves head coach, Steve Roberts already has the fifth most victories among ASU's 26 all-time head coaches with 45 wins. Larry Lacewell (1979-89) holds the record for victories with 69 and is followed by Bennie Ellender (1963-70) with 52 wins, Bill Davidson (1971-78) with 51 and Forrest England (1946-53) with 49.
ROBERTS AND ASU STADIUM: Arkansas State head coach Steve Roberts has led the Red Wolves to a 32-11 record at ASU?Stadium over the last nine years for .744 winning percentage. Arkansas State is 17-4 in home conference games since 2005, its only setbacks coming against Troy in 2007 and 2009, Middle Tennessee in 2006 and Louisiana-Lafayette in 2009. The Red Wolves are 23-8 in home conference games all-time under Roberts.
ROBERTS IN CLOSE GAMES: Ninth-year skipper Steve Roberts has seen numerous close games during his tenure with the Red Wolves, holding a 24-20 record in games decided by eight points or less (41 percent of all his games). Following is his record in close games:
Margin Roberts record
1 point 1-1
2 points 1-1
3 points 5-8
4 points 8-1
5 points 2-2
6 points 2-2
7 points 3-3
8 points 2-2
DOUBLE-DIGIT COMEBACKS: Arkansas State has rallied for a victory in seven games when trailing by double-digits under head coach Steve Roberts. Following is a year-by-year list of ASU's double-digit comeback victories under Roberts:
Year Opponent Trailed by Final
2002 ULM 11 33-2
2003 ULM 14 44-41
2003 NMSU 10 28-24
2005 ULL 16 39-36
2005 UNT 10 31-24
2007 Memphis 25 31-24
2007 UNT 21 31-27
2008 TAMU 11 18-14
2009 WKU 17 24-20
17 AND UNDER: Arkansas State holds a 20-4 record under head coach Steve Roberts when holding its opponents to 17 points or less. The Red Wolves have won 17 of their last 19 games when holding their opponent to 17 or fewer points and have won 28 straight games when holding their opponents to 10 or fewer points.
ARKANSAS STATE vs. THE SUN BELT CONFERENCE: Arkansas State is 63-61-1 all-time against current members of the Sun Belt Conference. Since the league's inaugural football season in 2001, the Red Wolves are 34-34 against all opponents that have been a member of the league. Against current members of the conference, ASU is 29-30 since 2001. The Red Wolves hold their most all-time victories against Louisiana-Lafayette with 17, while its most victories against a Sun Belt opponent since 2001 is Louisiana-Monroe with six. The Red Wolves have defeated every team in the SBC since the football league was formed in 2001.
COMING OFF THE OPEN WEEK: With its victory over Middle Tennessee last week, the Red Wolves improved to 5-4 all-time under head coach Steve Roberts after an open week. Following are ASU's scores after coming off an open week under Roberts:
11/2/10 vs. Middle Tennessee W, 54-21
10/13/09 at UL?Monroe L, 10-16
10/19/09 vs. Troy L, 27-30
10/11/08 vs. UL Monroe W, 37-29
11/1/08 at No.2 Alabama L, 0-35
11/22/08 vs. Florida Atlantic W, 28-14
9/15/07 vs. SMU W, 45-28
10/13/05 vs. UL Lafayette W, 39-36
11/5/05 at Middle Tennessee L, 7-45
SBC WEEKLY HONORS: The Red Wolves have had five players earn one of the Sun Belt Conference's weekly honors seven times. Sophomore quarterback Ryan Aplin has been named the league's offensive player of the week three times, while senior safety M.D. Jennings, senior linebacker Javon McKinnon, junior defensive back Adrian Hills and junior linebacker Demario Davis have all been recognized as the defensive player of the week once.
TALE OF TWO HALVES: While Arkansas State outscored six of its first seven opponents in at least one half, the last two games
marked the first time this year the Red Wolves posted more points in each half. The Red Wolves exploded in the second half in each of the last two games, outscoring FAU?and Middle Tennessee by a combined 56-16. Below is a breakdown of the scoring for ASU in each half this year:
Auburn 16-35 10-17
ULL 7-24 17-7
ULM 21-6 13-14
Troy 14-24 14-11
UL 7-31 17-3
UNT 21-16 3-3
Indiana 14-12 20-24
Fla. Atlantic 9-7 28-9
Middle Tenn. 23-17 28-7
NATIONAL COVERAGE: Arkansas State is playing at least two nationally televised games for the second consecutive year in 2010. The Red Wolves caught Middle Tennessee on Nov. 2 in its first ever home nationally televised game (ESPN2) and will play Navy on the road Nov. 20 in a game televised by CBS College Sports. Prior to last season, the last time ASU had played a nationally televised game was in the 2005 New Orleans Bowl.
MARGIN OF VICTORY: Arkansas State recorded its largest margin of victory over an FBS opponent since 2007 in each of the last two games. The Red Wolves defeated FAU?by 21 points and MTSU?by 27 points. A-State defeated Louisiana-Lafayette 52-21 in 2007 for its largest margin over the last four seasons. The Red Wolves scored a season-high 51 points against the Blue Raiders, while giving up a season-low 16 points to FAU. The last time A-State won by at least 21 points in back-to-back games was the 1987 season when it defeated Louisiana Tech 37-3 and Southern Illinois 33-9.
DUAL THREAT: Not only does Ryan Aplin have 15 passing touchdowns, he has also recorded a team-high eight rushing touchdowns for the most by an ASU?quarterback since 2002. Aplin's 15 passing touchdowns is only one shy of the school record, and the last time an ASU?quarterback rushed for eight or more touchdowns in a season was 1991 when Roy Johnson found the end zone 12 times.
APLIN BREAKS SCHOOL RECORD: Just nine games into the season,?Ryan Aplin has already completed 195 passes to break the school record. At the same time, he is ranked fourth for attempts with 322. He currently holds a 60.6 completion percentage that would rank second in school history if the season ended today. He completed a school-record 65 percent of his passes last season as a redshirt freshman.
ECLIPSING 100: Derek Lawson was responsible for ASU's first 100-yard rushing effort this season, picking up 104 yards last weekagainst Middle Tennessee. It was Lawson's third career 100-yard rushing game and his first since his redshirt freshman season. While Lawson's fellow running back Jermaine Robertson didn't reach 100 yards in the game, he recorded a career-high 79 rushing yards and also had a career-best two rushing touchdowns.
PILING UP THE YARDS: Arkansas State recorded a season-high 493 yards of total offense last game and has now posted over 400 yards in six games, including the last two in a row. The last time A-State had over 400 yards of offense in six games was the 1986 season when A-State actually played 15 games while competing in the NCAA I-AA playoffs.
11 RUSHERS: Eleven different ASU?players have recorded a rush this season, including a season-high 10 against Florida Atlantic. No player has attempted more than 102 rushes, while five players have carried the ball at least 20 times. Four different players have led ASU?in rushing in at least one game this year.
17 RECEIVERS: Seventeen ASU?players have recorded a reception this year. The Red Wolves had a season-high 12 players catch at least one pass against Florida Atlantic, tipping its previous season-high total of nine set against Indiana, Auburn and Louisiana-Lafayette. A-State's 17 players with a reception are its most since the 2006 campaign when 18 players caught at least one pass. ASU has completed at least one pass to six players in every game this year.
BIG PLAY: Arkansas State has run 49 plays (5.4 per game) this season that have covered at least 20 yards, including a season-high nine against Louisiana-Lafayette and eight last week against Middle Tennessee. The Red Wolves have run four plays that covered at least 50 yards with a long play of 65 yards (Ryan Aplin pass to Taylor Stockemer) against ULL.
CATCH AFTER CATCH: Junior wide receiver Dwayne Frampton has either tied or led A-State in receptions in five of its nine games played. Frampton has a team-high 52 receptions through nine games, five more than any ASU?player had for all of last season. He has caught multiple passes in every game. Frampton recorded a career-high 138 receiving yards, the 18th most in school history, last game against Middle Tennessee.
20 SOMETHING: Arkansas State has scored at least 24 points in each of its first nine games and is averaging 31.3 points a game, which ranks second in the Sun Belt Conference. The last time A-State scored 20 or more points in nine consecutive games was the 1986 season. The last time it scored 20-plus points in 10 straight games was during the 1951 campaign.
IN THE ZONE: The Arkansas State offense has performed well in the red zone this season, scoring on 34 of 40 opportunities for an .850 percentage. That percentage is ranked second in the SBC and 39th in the nation in red zone offense. ASU's 34 scores in the red zone consist of 27 touchdowns and seven field goals.
300-PLUS: Arkansas State posted at least 327 yards of total offense in each of its first nine games, marking the first time since the 1996 season it has compiled over 300 yards of offense in nine consecutive outings. Since 1954, and possibly throughout the history of the program, ASU?has never recorded 300-plus yards of total offense in 10 straight games. The Red Wolves recorded over 300 yards of offense in six games for all of last season.
DAVIS RECOGNIZED: Junior linebacker Demario Davis earned a pair of weekly honors for his performance in the Red Wolves 51-24 victory over Middle Tennessee on Nov. 2. Davis was named the Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Week on Monday, and he was also named an honorable mention Linebacker of the Week by College Football Performance Awards. He recorded seven tackles and a career-high two interceptions, which both set up touchdowns, during the Red Wolves' victory over the Blue Raiders in front of a national television audience. Davis joined teammates M.D. Jennings and Adrian Hills as the only three players in the Sun Belt Conference to record multiple interceptions in a game this season.
PICKING UP THE DEFENSE: ASU's top three defensive performances in terms of yards allowed have come over the last four games, holding North Texas to 292 yards, Florida Atlantic to 319 and Middle Tennessee to 382. While Indiana, ASU's only other opponent over the last four games, posted 495 yards of total offense, the Red Wolves held the Hoosiers to 113 rushing yards that are their fewest allowed on the ground this year.
KNOCK IT DOWN: Although junior cornerback Darron Edwards did not record a pass break-up last game against Middle Tennessee, he recorded two against Florida Atlantic after posting a career-high four against Indiana. His four pass break-ups against the Hoosiers tied the most in the nation for a single game. Edward's is ranked second in the Sun Belt Conference and tied for 25th in the nation in passes defended with 10 to his credit (1.11 per game). Edwards has posted at least one pass break-up in six games this season.
CONFERENCE DEFENSE: While Arkansas State is ranked ninth in the Sun Belt Conference in total defense for all games combined, it is ranked sixth in league games only. The Red Wolves statistically had their best defensive performance against North Texas four games ago, holding the Mean Green to a season-low 292 yards of total offense that was also the fewest yards allowed by ASU this year.
D-LINE DOMINANCE: ASU's defensive line continued their strong performance last week with a season-high four sacks by three different players for the second straight week. Defensive end Brandon Joiner recorded a career-high two sacks, while interior linemen Bryan Hall and Amos Draper each had one against the Blue Raiders. Dorvus Woods, Joiner, Hall and Justin Robertson all posted a career-high tackles total as well. Woods recorded nine stops, while Joiner finished with eight, Hall with seven and Robertson with five.
FORCING TURNOVERS: Arkansas State has forced 10 turnovers over its last six quarters played, including six interceptions and four fumble recoveries. A-State, which leads the Sun Belt Conference in turnover margin and is ranked 16th in the nation in turnovers gained, has now recorded at least one fumble recovery in six consecutive games and at least two interceptions in the last two games. The Red Wolves have recorded 21 turnovers gained, the most since the 2006 season when it had 29.
IN THE ZONE (PART II): The Arkansas State defense is second in the Sun Belt Conference and 10th in the nation in red zone defense, holding opponents to a .692 scoring percentage. A-State's nine opponents this season have turned just 27 of their combined 39 red zone opportunities into points (15 TD, 12 FG).
SPECIAL TEAMS NOTES
BIG BLOCK: Sophomore defensive end Tim Starson recorded a career-high three blocked kicks against ULM?to tie the most in school history for a single game. He also blocked an extra point against Florida Atlantic, to give him four on the year that is the second most in school history for a single season. Starson has three blocked extra points and one blocked field goal for the season.
PUNTING POWER: While Neely Sullivent averaged 38.8 yards per punt over ASU's first six games, he is averaging 45.9 yards per punt on 11 attempts over the last three games. Sullivent had six of his last 11 punts pin the opponent inside their 20 and had four of them travel at least 50 yards. By comparison, he had seven punts inside the opponent's 20 and four cover at least 50 yards over his first 25 attempts this year.
HALL POSTING RECORD NUMBERS: Junior receiver and kick returner Rod Hall has made an immediate impact this year in ASU's kickoff return game. Hall has recorded 623 kickoff return yards this season, which ranks as the fourth most in school history for a single season. He needs 102 more yards to take over third place. Hall recorded a career-high 158 kickoff return yards on just four attempts against Indiana, which ranks as the sixth most in school history for a single game.