JONESBORO, Ark. (ASU) - Arkansas State begins a three-game home stand, its longest since the 2008 campaign, Saturday with a Sun Belt Network televised game against Florida Atlantic at noon. Every A-State game can be heard live on 107.9 FM in the Jonesboro area. The live radio broadcast can also be accessed through the Arkansas State athletic website (AStateRedWolves.com).
THE PRINCIPALS: Arkansas State will play its fifth conference game of the season Saturday and will be televised by the Sun Belt Network for the fourth time this year. Saturday's contest has been designated a Sun Belt Conference 10-Year Anniversary game and will feature a special presentation by SBC Commissioner Wright Waters saluting Arkansas State for its membership in the league. The Red Wolves will carry a 2-2 Sun Belt Conference record into the game, while FAU is still searching for its first league win with an 0-2 mark.
THE ARKANSAS STATE-FLORIDA ATLANTIC SERIES: Arkansas State trails Florida Atlantic 3-2 in the all-time series that dates back to the 2005 season, but is 2-0 against the Owls at ASU Stadium. The Red Wolves defeated Florida Atlantic 28-14 in Jonesboro in 2008 and won a 3-0 overtime game at ASU Stadium in 2005. FAU's three wins over ASU came 35-18 last season, 34-31 in 2007 and 29-0 in 2006.
THE LAST TIME vs. FLORIDA ATLANTIC: BOCA RATON, Fla. (11/14/09) - The Arkansas State football team dropped its third-straight contest, falling in Sun Belt Conference action at Florida Atlantic 35-18.
ASU led at the half by two points, 9-7, with senior placekicker Josh Arauco scoring a field goal from 22 yards out with 1:03 remaining in the half. Arauco also connected on 19 and 35 yard field goals in the first half and tied his career high by hitting his fourth with 8:18 remaining in the fourth quarter.
However, FAU scored 21 unanswered points to start the second half to take a 28-9 lead with 12:31 left in the game.
In the first start of his career, then-redshirt freshman quarterback Ryan Aplin connected with freshman wide receiver Taylor Stockemer for each player's first career passing or receiving touchdown and the only touchdown for the Red Wolves in the contest with 42-seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.
Aplin completed the game with 168 passing yards completing 20 of 26 passes with no interceptions. He also led the team with 82 yards on the ground. ASU had 344 total yards of offense with a balanced attack of runs and passes with 176 on the ground and 168 through the air.
Then a sophomore, running back Derek Lawson had 62-yards for ASU averaging 7.4 yards per carry with a long run of 26 yards. Nathan Herrold led the team with 11 tackles.
ARKANSAS STATE vs. THE SUN BELT CONFERENCE: Arkansas State is 61-61-1 all-time against current members of the Sun Belt Conference. Since the league's inaugural football season in 2001, the Red Wolves are 32-34 against all opponents that have been a member of the league. Against current members of the conference, ASU is 27-30 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 Sun Belt Conference since the football league was formed in 2001.
AN A-STATE VICTORY WOULD . . .: Give ASU back-to-back Sun Belt Conference victories for the first time since the last two games of the 2009 season . . . Improve ASU's record at ASU Stadium to 2-1 this season and 31-11 all-time under head coach Steve Roberts . . . Move ASU above .500 in league play after five games for the first time since 2008 . . . Even ASU's all-time record against FAU to 3-3.
RANKING COMPARISON: Arkansas State enters Saturday's game ranked No. 2 in scoring offense and No. 2 in total offense and passing offense, while Florida Atlantic has the league's No. 1 scoring defense and passing defense and No. 3 ranked total defense. ASU's offense is averaging 402.7 yards per game, while FAU is allowing 380.6 yards per game.
APLIN EARNS WEEKLY SBC HONOR: Ryan Aplin was named the Sun Belt Conference Offensive Player of the Week on Monday, earning the weekly honor for the third time this year after recording two passing touchdowns, a pair of rushing scores and 298 yards of total offense during the Red Wolves' game against Indiana last Saturday . . . Aplin was responsible for a career-best four touchdowns, which is also the most by any Sun Belt player this season. . . . Aplin passed for 275 yards, his third most in a game this year, and added 23 rushing yards to complete the game with 298 yards of total offense.
SCHOOL RECORDS FALL: Ryan Aplin and Dwayne Frampton rewrote the ASU single-game record book last week at Indiana. Aplin completed a school-record 33 passes, topping the previous record of 32 set by Johnny Covington against San Jose State in 1995. Frampton recorded a school-record 12 receptions, topping the old record of 11 set by Robert Kilow against Mississippi in 1999.
DUAL THREAT: Not only does Ryan Aplin have 12 passing touchdowns, he has also recorded six rushing touchdowns for the most by an ASU quarterback since 2002. Aplin's 12 passing touchdowns are just four shy of the school record, and the last time an ASU quarterback rushed for seven or more touchdowns in a season was 1991 when Roy Johnson found the end zone 12 times.
THORNTON FINDS THE END ZONE: True freshman running back Sirgregory Thornton recorded his first two career touchdowns at ASU last week, picking up a six-yard rushing score and a 22-yard receiving touchdown. Thornton finished the game with four receptions for 54 yards, both career highs. He set his career-high rushing mark two games earlier against Louisville, running for 78 yards against the Cardinals.
SWEET 16: Arkansas State had nine players record at least one reception against Indiana, matching its season-high total previously set against both Auburn and Louisiana-Lafayette. Through just seven games, A-State has already had 16 players haul in at least one pass this year. A-State's 16 players with a reception is 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.
CATCH AFTER CATCH: Junior wide receiver Dwayne Frampton has either tied or led A-State in receptions in four of its seven games played, including its last outing at Indiana. Frampton has a team-high 40 receptions that is just seven shy of the most by any ASU player for all of last season. He has caught multiple passes in every game.
20 SOMETHING: Arkansas State has scored at least 24 points in each of its first seven games and is averaging 27.7 points a game, which ranks second in the Sun Belt Conference. The last time A-State scored 20 or more points in seven consecutive games was the 1987 season when it actually did so in eight straight outings.
IN THE ZONE: The Arkansas State offense is almost perfect in the red zone, scoring on 24 of 26 opportunities for a 92.3 percentage. That percentage is ranked first in the SBC and sixth in the nation in red zone offense. ASU's 24 scores in the red zone consist of 19 touchdowns and five field goals.
BIG PLAY: Arkansas State has run 37 plays (5.2 per game) this season that have covered at least 20 yards, including a season-high nine against Louisiana-Lafayette. The Red Wolves have run four plays that covered at least 53 yards with a long play of 65 yards (Ryan Aplin pass to Taylor Stockemer) against ULL.
300-PLUS: Arkansas State posted at least 327 yards of total offense in each of its first seven games, marking the first time since the 2008 season it has compiled over 300 yards of offense in seven consecutive outings. The last time ASU recorded 300-plus yards of total offense in eight straight games was 1996 when it did so in nine consecutive outings. The Red Wolves recorded over 300 yards of offense in six games for all of last season.
KNOCK IT DOWN: Junior cornerback Darron Edwards recorded a career-high four pass break-ups last game against Indiana, which also ties the most in the nation for a single game. Edward's leads the Sun Belt Conference and is ranked 32nd in the nation in passes defended with eight to his credit (1.14 per game). Edwards has posted at least one pass break-up in five games this season.
McKINNON HAS STRONG OUTING: Senior linebacker Javon McKinnon recorded eight tackles, including one tackle for loss, forced a fumble and recovered a fumble in ASU's game against Indiana. McKinnon's eight tackles tied the second most on the team and increased his team-leading season total to 58, which is also the second most in the Sun Belt Conference. He recorded at least eight tackles in a game for the fourth time this season. His tackle for loss gives him 3.5 for the year as well. The game marked the second time this season and fourth time of his career he recovered a fumble, while he now has three forced fumbles for his career.
CONFERENCE DEFENSE: While Arkansas State is ranked ninth in the Sun Belt Conference in total defense for all games combined, it is ranked fifth in league games only. The Red Wolves statistically had their best defensive performance against North Texas two 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.
FORCING TURNOVERS: The Red Wolves posted two fumble recoveries against Indiana, giving them four straight games and five games total with a fumble recovery (Auburn, Troy, Louisville, North Texas, Indiana). ASU also has four interceptions in three games this year. While the Red Wolves didn't intercept a pass the last two games, they had at least one pick in the three previous games.
PLAYING IN THE BACKFIELD: Junior defensive lineman Dorvus Woods recorded 1.0 tackle for loss against Indiana and has 4.5 over the last three games to climb to 10th in the Sun Belt Conference in the stat with 5.5 total. Also ranked among the top players in the league in tackles for loss is redshirt freshman Amos Draper (ranked 7th with a team-high six).
IN THE ZONE (PART II): The Arkansas State defense is second in the Sun Belt Conference and tied for 12th in the nation in red zone defense, holding opponents to a 69.7 scoring percentage. A-State's seven opponents this season have turned just 23 of their combined 33 red zone opportunities into points (13 TD, 10 FG).
SPECIAL TEAMS NOTES
NEAR SCHOOL RECORD: Arkansas State recorded 223 kickoff return yards last week against Indiana, the second most in school history behind only the 227 yards posted against Louisiana-Lafayette in 2007. The 223 yards are also the second most this season by a Sun Belt Conference team. ASU had three returns of over 50 yards, including two by Rod Hall and one by R.J. Fleming.
BIG RETURNS: Junior wide receiver and return specialist Rod Hall returned four kickoffs for a career-high 158 yards, the sixth most in school history and the most by an ASU player since 2007, in the Red Wolves' game against Indiana. Hall averaged 39.5 yards per return, the second highest by a Sun Belt Conference player this season. He returned his first kickoff a career-best 71 yards to Indiana's 26-yard line, setting up ASU's second touchdown after Indiana had pulled within 7-6 of ASU's lead. Not only was Hall's 71 yard return the longest by an ASU player since 2001, he later added a 50-yard kickoff return to give him two returns in the same game that rank among the top three this year by an ASU player. His 158 return yards gives him 571 for the season, the second most in the Sun Belt Conference and the sixth most in school history. He is also now averaging 24.8 yards per return, the highest average in the league.
SULLIVENT HONORED: Junior Neely Sullivent has been selected a national Honorable Mention Punter of the Week by the College Football Performance Awards (CFPA) after averaging a career-best 47.2 yards per punt during the Red Wolves' game against Indiana last Saturday . . . Indiana was unable to return any of Sullivent's four punts that traveled a combined 189 yards and was pinned inside its own 20-yard line three times by ASU's punt-coverage team. Sullivent's three punts inside the Hoosiers' 20-yard line matched his career high and his 47.2 average was almost two yards higher than the best cumulative average held by a Sun Belt Conference player this season . . . Sullivent had two punts of at least 50 yards, including a career long of 61 yards, that gave him six total for the year. He now has 10 punts inside the opponent's 20-yard line, tying the second most this year by a Sun Belt Conference player.