|A-STATE GAME NOTES: at Missouri|
GAME 5: Arkansas State (2-2) at Missouri (3-0)
ON TAP: Arkansas State continues its non-conference slate this weekend at Missouri, the second SEC opponent on the Red Wolves schedule this year. The Red Wolves, in the midst of three consecutive non-conference games, face the Tigers on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. in a CSS-televised game at Faurot Field/Memorial Stadium. Every A-State game can be heard live on 107.9 FM in the Jonesboro area as part of the EAB Red Wolves Sports Radio Network, and the live radio broadcast can be accessed through the A-State athletics Web site (AStateRedWolves.com).
BY THE NUMBERS . . .
HEAD COACH BRYAN HARSIN: Bryan Harsin was named the Red Wolves’ 29th head football coach on Dec. 12, 2012. Harsin is a 13-year coaching veteran at the NCAA FBS level who has coached in 10 bowl games as either an assistant or offensive coordinator. Harsin, a finalist for the 2009 Broyles Award recognizing the top assistant coach in the country, has been associated with two nationally-prominent programs during his rise to A-State’s head coach. Working closely with Chris Petersen at Boise State and Mack Brown at Texas, two of the most well-respected coaches in the country, Harsin spent the last seven seasons as an offensive coordinator with the Broncos and Longhorns.
HIGH MARKS: Arkansas State head football coach Bryan Harsin was ranked as the sixth best hire in the nation among 26 new coaches at the time, according to CBSSports.com. The article written by Dennis Dodd said the following when referring to A-State’s 29th head coach: “We're talking a Sun Belt program that has changed its AD (once) and coaches (twice) over the last two years. Somehow the Red Wolves went from national championship game offensive coordinator (Malzahn) to Fiesta Bowl-winning offensive coordinator with a stop in Texas (Bryan Harsin). Not too shabby.”
STARTING STRONG: With the Red Wolves victory over UAPB, Bryan Harsin became the Red Wolves first head coach to win his inaugural game at the school since Larry Lacewell in 1979. ASU’s previous seven head coaches all suffered setbacks in their first game, including Al Kincaid, Ray Perkins, John Bobo, Joe Hollis, Steve Roberts, Hugh Freeze and Gus Malzahn.
YOUNGEST FBS HEAD COACHES: At 36 years of age, Arkansas State head coach Bryan Harsin is the fourth youngest head coach in the nation. Western Michigan’s P.J. Fleck is the youngest at 32 years old with a Nov. 29, 1980 date of birth.
THE ARKANSAS STATE - MISSOURI SERIES: Arkansas State visits Missouri on Saturday to play the first game of a home-and-home series with the Tigers. The return game is scheduled for Sept. 12, 2015, in Jonesboro. This season’s contest will mark the third meeting all-time between the two schools and the first since 2005. While the 2005 game counted as a home contest for A-State, it was actually played at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City and saw the Tigers come away with a 44-17 victory. ASU also played Missouri, then ranked No. 17 in the nation, in 2004 in Columbia and dropped a 52-20 decision. Arkansas State has played eight schools a combined 43 times while they were members of the SEC, but the 2015 game against Missouri will be just the second time the Red Wolves have ever hosted an SEC team. The only other time A-State played an SEC member at home was in 2001 against Ole Miss. While the Red Wolves tied Mississippi State 15-15 in 1993, they will enter Saturday’s game looking for their first win against an SEC team.
A-STATE vs. THE SEC: A-State is facing its second SEC opponent this season after catching Auburn on Sept. 7, giving the Red Wolves two games in the same year against a team from the conference for the first time since 2004 (Ole Miss and LSU). Prior to this season, the last time Arkansas State had played an SEC opponent was 2010. Although A-State has never defeated a team while it was a member of the SEC, it has picked up victories over two current schools prior to them joining the league. A-State defeated Ole Miss 10-0 in 1915 and has also tied the Rebels twice. The Red Wolves defeated Texas A&M 18-14 in 2008 as well while the Aggies were a member of the Big 12 Conference. A-State has played Ole Miss 23 times, more than any other current SEC member.
99th SEASON UNDER WAY: Arkansas State kicked off its 99th season of football Aug. 31, 2013, vs. UAPB. A-State now holds a 428-459-37 record since its inaugural 1911 season and has played in nine bowl games. ASU did not field a football 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.
AN A-STATE VICTORY WOULD . . .: Make the Red Wolves 3-2 or better after their first five games for the first time since 2011 . . . Give it a victory over a team while it was a member of the SEC for the first time in school history . . . Give the Red Wolves at least two non-conference victories for the third consecutive year . . . Keep its streak without back-to-back losses in the same season since 2010 alive . . . Give the Red Wolves their second victory over a team from a BCS automatic qualify conference (def. Texas A&M, 18-14, in 2008) since joining the FBS in 1992.
STOP THE BLEEDING: While Arkansas State suffered a 38-9 setback at Auburn to snap a nine-game winning streak, it got back in the win column with a 41-34 victory over Troy. With the win, A-State still has not dropped back-to-back games in the same season since falling in the last two games of the 2010 campaign.
THIRD DOWN EFFICIENCY: While Arkansas State converted just 4-of-15 third downs against Memphis, overall it has been one of the most successful teams in the nation this season converting third downs and ranks 33rd in the country with a .484 percentage. The Red Wolves converted 9-of-12 attempts vs. UAPB, 8-of-18 vs. Auburn and 9-of-17 vs. Troy.
HITTING TWO-HUNDRED: Arkansas State has rushed for at least 200 yards in two of its first four games this season and in six of its last nine regular-season games dating back to last season. The Red Wolves have won eight consecutive games when rushing for 200 yards or more, a streak that also dates back to 2011.
300-PLUS: Dating back to the 2010 season, Arkansas State has posted at least 300 yards of total offense 38 of its last 42 games. A-State finished the 2013 GoDaddy.com Bowl with 285 yards, snapping a streak of nine consecutive games with over 300 yards total offense.
LIGHTING UP THE SCOREBOARD: Including a 62-point outburst in its season opener and 41 points scored against Troy, A-State has now posted at least 30 points in 20 of its last 27 regular-season games dating back to the 2011 season. The Red Wolves’ 10 games with at least 30 points last year were their most since 1951 when they hit the total 10 times as well.
PLAYING IN THE BACKFIELD: The Arkansas State defense recorded 15 tackles for loss in its season opener, five more against Auburn and nine versus Troy. While it recorded just two tackles for loss against Memphis, A-State is still ranked 15th in the nation in tackles for loss with 7.8 per game. The 15 tackles for loss vs. UAPB were the Red Wolves most ever since joining the Sun Belt Conference.
ON THE RISE: Senior WR Julian Jones has recorded at least six receptions in three straight games and now has 21 total catches over that same span. Jones has either led or tied for the team high in receptions every game this season and is ranked 48th in the nation in receptions per game (5.8). Jones’ 21 receptions are four more than he had for his entire career entering the 2013 season.
TOPS SINCE 2010: Sophomore wide receiver J.D. McKissic was responsible for a career-high 82 kickoff return yards against Memphis that ranked as the most by an A-State player since the 2010 season. One of McKissic’s three returns went for a career-long 38 yards as well. McKissic is averaging 22.6 yards per return to rank fifth in the Sun Belt Conference.
LEADING THE LEAGUE: Senior quarterback Adam Kennedy currently leads the Sun Belt Conference in total offense with 246.0 yards per game. Kennedy recorded a season-high 358 yards of total offense against Auburn and just missed going over 300 against Troy with 299 to his credit.
POWER PUNT: While Arkansas State didn’t have a punt cover more than 58 yards all of last season, sophomore Luke Ferguson has already had three travel 58 yards or more over his first 11 attempts of the season. He had a 60-yard punt versus Auburn, a career-best 63 yarder against Troy and a 58-yard punt last game. Ferguson is ranked second in the Sun Belt Conference with a 46.9 average per attempt.
A FLARE FOR THE DRAMATIC: Sophomore RB Michael Gordon is responsible for two of the three longest runs by A-State this year, including a 92-yard outburst against UAPB that was the second longest in school history. Gordon posted a 64-yard touchdown run against Troy as well, and he is averaging 12.2 yards per attempt (18). Gordon has two 100-yard rushing games, including a 102-yard showing against UAPB and a 115-yard effort versus Troy.
RISING TACKLES: Through just four games, sophomore safety Chris Humes already has more tackles than he had for all of his freshman season. Humes, who recorded a season-high 12 tackles against Auburn, has 29 stops on the season -- eight more than he had in 2012. Humes has at least seven tackles in the last three games and is ranked eighth in the Sun Belt Conference in the stat.
WELL ROUNDED: Senior RB David Oku has gone over 100 yards combined rushing and receiving in a game twice this season and nine times during his career at A-State.
FINDING THE END ZONE: Senior running back David Oku, who posted 16 rushing touchdowns last season to tie the third most in school history, recorded two rushing touchdowns against both UAPB and Troy this season. Oku has now recorded at least one rushing touchdown in 12 of his 17 games played at Arkansas State.
UNBUCKLE THE BELT: The Red Wolves opened Sun Belt Conference play in their third game of the season, the earliest since 2010 when they played their second game against a league opponent. A-State improved to 8-5 all-time in Sun Belt Conference openers with its 41-34 victory over Troy. The Red Wolves’ victory was their first in an SBC opener since 2011.
HOME SWEET HOME: With a 5-1 home mark last season, Arkansas State secured its eighth consecutive winning record at Liberty Bank Stadium dating back to 2005. ASU is now 38-8 at Liberty Bank Stadium since the 2005 season and has won 13 of its last 14 home games. The Red Wolves actual on-field record all-time at Liberty Bank Stadium is 130-71-1 since it opened in 1974. ASU’s six home wins in 2011 were its most since 1985.
WEEKLY HONORS: Arkansas State had four players named a national Honorable Mention Player of the Week at their respective positions by the College Football Performance Awards after the Troy game. Those players included sr. DL Amos Draper, soph. RB Michael Gordon, soph. TE Darion Griswold and sr. WR Allen Muse. Gordon was also recognized by College Sports Madness as its Sun Belt Conference Player of the Week.
DAVIS HONORED: Senior kicker Brian Davis was named a national College Football Performance Awards Placekicker of the Week following the Auburn game. Davis posted a season-high three field goals, giving him 44 for his career that leaves him one shy of tying the fifth most in Sun Belt Conference history. Davis was a perfect 3-of-3 on his attempts that covered 34, 21 and 42 yards. Dating back to last season, Davis has now made his last six consecutive field goals to leave him only one short of tying the sixth longest streak in school history. Including Auburn, Davis now has 12 career games with multiple field goals made.
FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH: Arkansas State has 25 underclassmen (sophomores or freshmen) listed on its 2-deep. The list includes 13 sophomores, six redshirt freshmen and six true freshmen. Among the underclassmen, six are listed as starters on the offensive or defensive side of the ball. A-State’s 25 underclassmen on its two-deep was tied for the 14th most in the nation with Colorado and Illinois according to the 2013 initial depth charts. Virginia listed 34 players on its opening-day two-deep for the most among all teams.
IN THE POLLS: Arkansas State ended the 2012 season receiving votes in the final major polls, including 28 in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll and 13 in the USA Today Coaches Top 25 Poll. Both totals placed the Red Wolves 32nd in the nation. The Red Wolves were also among “others receiving votes” in the 2013 preseason and week two USA Today Coaches Top 25 Poll.
NCAA RECORD: A-State became the seventh FBS team in NCAA history to have four players (David Oku, Fredi Knighten, Michael Gordon, Sirgregory Thornton vs. UAPB) rush for over 100 yards in the same game. The other teams include Arizona (1951), Texas (1969), Alabama (1973), Army (1984), Nebraska (2001) and Nevada (2009).
FOR STARTERS: A-State improved to 45-47-6 all-time in season openers with its victory over UAPB on Aug. 31. The Red Wolves claimed a win in their season-opening game for the first time since 2009.
RUSHING RED WOLVES: The Red Wolves piled up 509 rushing yards versus UAPB, which were the most in the nation during the season’s first week and still stand as the second most behind BYU’s 550 against Texas. A-State’s total was also the fifth most in school history and the second most in Sun Belt history.
HOME OPENERS: With its victory over UAPB on Aug. 31, Arkansas State won its ninth consecutive home opener dating back to the 2005 campaign. The Red Wolves now stand 29-11 all-time in home openers at Liberty Bank Stadium and are also 15-6 in such games since moving to the FBS in 1992.
RETURNING ALL-SUN BELT PEFORMERS: Arkansas State returns five All-Sun Belt Conference players from the 2012 season, including first team selections David Oku (Sr., RB) and Ryan Carrethers (Sr., DL). J.D. McKissic (So., WR) and Brian Davis (Sr., K) were both second-team choices, while Qushaun Lee (Jr., LB) was named honorable mention.
PRESEASON ALL-SUN BELT CONFERENCE: Arkansas State placed a league-high seven players on the 2013 Preseason All-Sun Belt Conference Team. Senior running back David Oku, sophomore wide receiver J.D. McKissic and sophomore center Bryce Giddens all represented the A-State offense on the preseason squad. ASU’s defensive players earning a spot on the team were senior defensive lineman Ryan Carrethers, junior linebacker Qushaun Lee and junior safety Sterling Young. Senior kicker Brian Davis, also made the list.
RED WOLVES TABBED THIRD IN PRESEASON SBC POLL: The Red Wolves were picked third in the preseason coaches poll announced as part of the league’s annual Media Day. A-State received 45 points and two first-place votes behind UL Lafayette and UL Monroe, which both received 57 points.
ASU ANNOUNCES FOOTBALL FACILITY PROJECT: Arkansas State University has announced a $26.7 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.
SUN BELT CHAMPIONS: Arkansas State claimed its second consecutive outright Sun Belt Conference championship in 2012. ASU has won nine 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. Prior to the 2011 and 2012 seasons, the last time ASU won back-to-back conference championships was 1986 and 1985 when it was a member of the Southland Conference.
BACK-TO-BACK WINNING SEASONS: Arkansas State secured back-to-back winning seasons in 2011 and 2012 for the first time since 1986-87. ASU won 10 games in both 2011 and 2012, and its 19 combined regular-season victories were its most ever over a two-year span -- topping its 18 in 1974 and 1975.
BOWL ELIGIBLE: Arkansas State has been bowl eligible five times over the last eight seasons, including the last two in a row.
ATTENDANCE FIGURES: Arkansas State’s average home attendance last season was a school record 26,398, topping its previous best of 21,256 in 2011. The 31,243 in attendance for A-State’s 2012 regular-season finale against Middle Tennessee was the largest in Liberty Bank Stadium history, and ASU had two home crowds over 30,000 in the same season for the first time ever.