The Sports Network has a preview of ASU's upcoming game against Middle Tennessee State.
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 21st, 3:30 p.m.
FACTS & STATS: Site: Floyd Stadium (30,788) -- Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Television: ESPN Game Plan. Home Record: Arkansas State 2-2, MTU 4-1. Away Record: Arkansas State 0-5, MT 3-2. Neutral Record: Arkansas State 0-0, MT 0-0. Conference Record: Arkansas State 1-4, MT 5-1. Series Record: Middle Tennessee leads, 8-2.
GAME NOTES: The red-hot Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders will try to continue their winning ways when they host the Arkansas State Red Wolves this Saturday afternoon at Floyd Stadium.
It has been a rough season for the Red Wolves, who head into this matchup with seven losses in nine contests. Arkansas State is currently mired in a three- game losing skid, which includes a 35-18 setback to Florida Atlantic this past weekend. The loss dropped the Red Wolves to just 1-4 in conference play and left the team winless on the road.
As for the Blue Raiders, they are in the midst of an impressive four-game winning streak, as the team has won three of those four matchups by double- figures. The last time MT was in action the team defeated UL-Lafayette, 34-17. With the win the Blue Raiders moved to 4-1 at home, and also pushed their league mark to 5-1 on the year.
With respect to the all-time series between the two schools on the gridiron, the Blue Raiders have won eight of the 10 meetings, including five of the last six matchups. At home against ASU the Blue Raiders are a perfect 5-0.
The Red Wolves' struggles this season can be pinned on the offense, which has been rather inconsistent since the start of the year. Arkansas State is producing 332.8 total ypg, but that has led to a pedestrian 22.7 ppg. Reggie Arnold has been the top option out of the backfield for the Red Wolves, but the tailback has churned out just 510 yards. However, Arnold is averaging 4.6 yards per carry and has scored 10 touchdowns. Corey Leonard has also been inconsistent throughout the season as well, as the quarterback has thrown for just 1,387 yards and seven touchdowns against six interceptions. Arkansas State's offensive woes continued in the team's loss to Florida Atlantic, as the Red Wolves scored just 18 points. Arkansas State did rush for 176 yards in the contest, but it was backup quarterback Ryan Aplin that led the way, rushing for 82 yards on 15 totes. Aplin was even better with his arm, completing 20- of-27 passes for 168 yards and one touchdown in the loss.
The poor play offensively has overshadowed the team's performance on the defensive side of the ball. Arkansas State has done an admirable job against opposing offenses, and is limiting teams to just 21.7 ppg. The defense has really excelled against the run, holding teams to just 117.4 ypg on a mere 3.5 yards per carry. The Red Wolves have only forced 13 turnovers on the season, and have also struggled getting pressure on the quarterback, racking up 12 sacks. The Red Wolves could do no right against Florida Atlantic in their last matchup, as the defense surrendered 396 total yards. ASU had major issues defending the pass, as the Owls torched this defense for 242 yards and three touchdowns. Nathan Herrold led the team with 11 tackles in the contest, while M.D. Jennings collected eight stops.
The success of Middle Tennessee's offense rests solely on the shoulders of quarterback Dwight Dasher. The signal caller has been a major reason why the Blue Raiders are producing 29.8 ppg. Dasher comes into this weekend with 2,248 yards through the air, and has thrown 15 touchdowns against 11 interceptions. On top of his play with his arm, Dasher has also been tough to stop on the ground, as the quarterback is leading the team with 792 rushing yards and nine scores. D.D. Kyles is next in line for MT with 675 yards, but the tailback only has three touchdowns. The last time the Blue Raiders were in action the team once again leaned on Dasher, and he led the Blue Raiders to another victory. Dasher threw for 219 yards and two touchdowns in the win, while also rushing for 89 yards. However, it was Kyles that led the team on the ground with an impressive 177 yards on 20 carries.
The Blue Raiders have not been devastating on the defensive side of the ball, but the team has played well enough to keep MT in the win column. Teams are scoring 24.3 ppg against MT, and while the unit is surrendering 147.2 ypg on the ground, the defense is limiting opponents to just 3.7 yards per carry. What has helped this unit has been its ability to force big plays, as the defense comes into this weekend with 26 takeaways (13 interceptions and 13 fumbles), and has also recorded 30 sacks thus far. The Blue Raiders continued their suffocating performance against ULL, as the defense forced two turnovers in the win and also came away with five sacks. Overall the Blue Raiders held the Ragin' Cajuns to just 293 total yards, and that includes just 72 rushing yards on 2.3 yards per attempt. Rod Issac led the way with nine tackles in the win, while Cam Robinson tallied eight stops and one sack.
The Blue Raiders have been playing very well of late and they possess the wildcard in Dasher. As long as MT has its all-purpose quarterback then the Blue Raiders should have a shot in almost any game.