|Updated: 1/02/2012 10:45 am
||Published: 1/02/2012 10:42 am
ON TAP: The Sun Belt Conference champion Arkansas State Red Wolves will carry a nine-game winning streak, currently the nation’s second longest, and 10 regular-season victories into their first bowl game since 2005 when they face Mid-American Conference champ Northern Illinois in the ESPN-televised GoDaddy.com Bowl on Jan. 8. The game is set to kickoff at 8 p.m. CT and 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 Web site (AStateRedWolves.com).
THE PRINCIPALS: Arkansas State is set to make its first bowl-game appearance since dropping a 31-19 decision in the 2005 New Orleans Bowl. The Red Wolves put together an unblemished 8-0 Sun Belt record to claim their first outright championship as a member of the league. ASU will carry a 10-2 record into the GoDaddy.com Bowl while its opponent, Northern Illinois, is tied with TCU for the nation's third longest win streak at eight games after completing its season with a 10-3 record. Arkansas State is receiving 18 votes in the AP Top 25 Poll and Northern Illinois 7, while the Red Wolves picked up nine votes in the USA Today Top 25 Coaches Poll to the Huskies 14. A-State is No. 35 in the latest BCS rankings and NIU is No. 34.
HEAD COACH GUS MALZAHN: Arkansas State Director of Athletics Dr. Dean Lee announced at a Dec. 14 press conference that Gus Malzahn has been named the Red Wolves’ 28th head football coach, bringing him back to his home state after most recently enjoying highly successful stints as a top assistant coach at three NCAA FBS universities that garnered national acclaim. A name highly recognized throughout Arkansas and the nation, Malzahn comes to Arkansas State after serving as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Auburn for the past three seasons. A native of Fort Smith, Malzahn was named the winner of the 2010 Frank Broyles Award, given annually to the nation’s top collegiate assistant coach. He coached in the Chik-Fil-A Bowl as part of Auburn’s staff, and will be at the GoDaddy.com Bowl in a capacity to be determined.
INTERIM HEAD COACH DAVID GUNN: David Gunn, now in his 10th season as an assistant coach at Arkansas State, was named the Interim Head Coach by ASU Director of Athletics Dr. Dean Lee on Dec. 5 after former head coach Hugh Freeze accepted the same position at Ole Miss. Gunn served as ASU’s running backs coach his first 10 seasons at the school, and he has been instrumental in the Red Wolves’ in-state recruiting efforts since his arrival in 2002. He was also named Director of Player Development for the 2011 season. Over the last 10 seasons, Gunn has coached three All-Sun Belt Conference selections and two of the Red Wolves’ top three all-time leading rushers. Under Gunn’s watch, ASU has had a running back named the Sun Belt Conference Offensive Player of the Year and the league’s Freshman of the Year.
GODADDY.COM BOWL: Arkansas State accepted an official invitation to the GoDaddy.com Bowl following its victory over Middle Tennessee on Nov. 19, placing the Red Wolves in a bowl game for the first time since 2005 when they played Southern Miss in the New Orleans Bowl in Lafayette, La. ASU was bowl eligible for the first time since 2008, but for the fourth time over the last seven seasons. ASU reached bowl eligibility after just eight games, making this year the earliest ASU has ever been bowl eligible as an FBS member (since 1992).
SUN BELT CHAMPIONS: Arkansas State claimed its first ever outright Sun Belt Conference championship this season. Including 2011, Arkansas State 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 championship, but it was later vacated due to NCAA sanctions.
THE ARKANSAS STATE-NORTHERN ILLINOIS SERIES: The GoDaddy.com Bowl will mark the eighth all-time meeting between ASU and NIU, with the Huskies holding a 6-1 advantage in the series. The two teams played all seven games between 1990 and 1996, including three as Big West Conference opponents between 1993 and 1995. A-State's lone victory in the series came 28-21 in 1995, while Northern Illinois picked up a 31-30 victory in the last meeting in 1996.
A-STATE vs. MID-AMERICAN CONFERENCE: Arkansas State has played seven current members of the Mid-American Conference, holding a combined 6-13 record against Akron, Bowling Green, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Northern Illinois, Toledo and Western Michigan. ASU holds at least one victory against all those teams with the exception of Bowling Green (0-1), and Toledo (0-2). A-State’s most victories against a current MAC team is two versus Eastern Michigan, while it has played Northern Illinois (7 games) more times than any other MAC team. ASU’s first ever game against a current MAC team was played in 1967 against Western Michigan and its last game was in 1996 versus Northern Illinois.
ON THIS DATE: Arkansas State is playing just its third game ever in the month of January and its first ever on Jan. 8. ASU played in the Tangerine Bowl (now the Capital One Bowl) in Orlando, Fla., twice on Jan. 1, tying East Texas State (now Texas A&M-Commerce) 7-7 in 1954 and falling 34-19 to Western Kentucky in 1952.
BOWL HISTORY: Not including the GoDaddy.com Bowl, Arkansas State has played in eight bowl games all-time and holds a 2-5-1 record in those contests. ASU dropped a 31-19 decision against Southern Miss in the 2005 New Orleans Bowl, which was the first time since 1970 that the Red Wolves played in a bowl game. A-State played in seven bowl games from 1951-70, including the Pecan Bowl (1970, 1969, 1968), Tangerine Bowl (1954, 1952) and Refrigerator Bowl (1952, 1951). The Tangerine Bowl was played in Orlando, Fla. and is now known as the Captial One Bowl. The Pecan Bowl was played in Arlington, Texas, and the Refrigerator Bowl in Evansville, Ind.
IN THE POLLS: Arkansas State is No. 30 in the CBSSports.com 120 rankings. The Red Wolves are also No. 35 in the latest BCS rankings. Additionally, A-State is receiving votes in the USA Today Top 25 Coaches Poll (9 votes) and AP Top 25 Poll (18 votes) for the first time in its history as an NCAA FBS member (since 1992).
AN A-STATE VICTORY WOULD . . .: Give the Red Wolves their third all-time bowl victory and their first since 1970 . . . Give the Red Wolves 11 victories to tie the second most in school history and mark the fourth time to ever post at least 11 wins in a season . . . Make the Red Wolves the first team in Sun Belt history to ever win 11 games in a season . . . Give the Red Wolves 10 consecutive wins to extend the third longest winning streak in school history . . . Give the Red Wolves 7 more victories than it had last season and give them a win differential of 6.5, which would currently tie the largest differential in NCAA history.
MOST WINS AS AN FBS MEMBER: Arkansas State has recorded its most victories ever as an FBS member with 10, topping the previous best of six wins in 1995, 2002, 2005, 2006 and 2008. The last time the Red Wolves won 10 games at any level was 1986 when it posted a 12-2-1 record and finished as the NCAA I-AA runner-up. A-State’s 10 victories ties the fourth most in school history. ASU had 10 victories in 1951, 11 in 1970 and 1975 and 12 in 1986.
ON A ROLL: ASU has won nine consecutive games for the first time since 1975 when it posted and 11-0 record. The Red Wolves’ nine-game winning streak is the second longest in the nation behind only LSU (14). ASU’s nine-game winning streak is the third longest in school history behind 16 from 1969-71 and 15 from 1974-76.
UNDEFEATED IN CONFERENCE: Arkansas State is just the third school in Sun Belt Conference history to ever go undefeated in league play. The only other schools to accomplish the feat were Troy in 2009 (8-0) and North Texas in 2004 (7-0), 2003 (7-0) and 2002 (6-0). While 2011 marks the first time ASU has ever gone undefeated in Sun Belt play, it also went undefeated against Southland Conference competition six times, including 1964 (2-0-2), 1968 (3-0-1), 1969 (4-0), 1970 (4-0), 1975 (5-0) and 1986 (5-0).
CONFERENCE WINNING STREAK: Arkansas State’s eight-game conference winning streak is its longest since the 1985-86 seasons when it won 10 in a row as a member of the Southland Conference. The Red Wolves’ conference winning streak is also currently tied for the third longest in the nation with Northern Illinois. TCU has a 24-game conference winning streak and LSU has won nine straight league gams.
TOP TURNAROUNDS: Arkansas State currently holds the nation’s second highest turnaround in wins, posting 10 this year after finishing 2010 with four. The Red Wolves are 6 games improved, which is the second most in the nation. Houston leads the nation in both win differential (7) and games improved (6.5). With a victory over Northern Illinois, ASU would end the season with a 6.5 win differential to tie what is currently the biggest ever in NCAA football (currently 14 all-time teams have posted 6.5).
ROAD WARRIORS: The Red Wolves won four consecutive games on the road for the first time since 1975. ASU’s four total road wins are its most for an entire season since 1986.
1 OF 4: Arkansas State was one of just four teams in the nation to finish the regular season ranked among the top 25 in both total offense and defense. The Red Wolves ended the regular season No. 20 in total defense (325.7 ypg) and No. 25 in total offense (454.4 ypg). The other teams ranked in the top 25 in both total offense and total defense included Stanford, Boise State and Wisconsin.
1 OF 2: Arkansas State was one of just two FBS teams in the nation that led its conference in both total offense and total defense during the regular season. The only other school to lead its league in both was Boise State of the Mountain West Conference.
FINISHING IN THE FOURTH: Arkansas State has outscored its opponents 111-31 in the fourth quarter this season. The Red Wolves have been outscored only once in the fourth quarter all season, and that came by a one-point margin in the North Texas game. ASU has not allowed a fourth-quarter score in seven games, including five of the last six. No team has scored more than eight points against A-State in the fourth quarter, while the Red Wolves have scored at least 14 fourth-quarter points in five of their last nine games.
GRABBING AN EARLY LEAD: Arkansas State has opened up a double-figure lead in the first quarter its last five games in a row, outscoring its opponents 64-2 over that span. During its nine-game winning streak, ASU has scored first seven times.
DOUBLE DIGITS: Arkansas State has won seven games by a double-figure margin this season, which is its most since 1986. ASU has won five of its last six games by at least 18 points and holds an average scoring margin of +14.2 points per game (33.5 to 19.3) for the entire season. The last time A-State won eight games by a double-digit margin was 1986 as well.
TOP 50: Arkansas State is ranked among the top 50 teams in the nation in 14 statistical categories, including total offense (23) and total defense (20). ASU also ranks in the top 50 in interceptions (8), tackles for loss (15), rushing defense (13), scoring defense (14), sacks (18), pass efficiency defense (18), passing offense (18), scoring offense (26), turnover margin (26), pass efficiency (37), net punting (39) and rushing offense (49).
SUN BELT PLAYERS OF THE WEEK: Arkansas State has had six players named a Sun Belt Conference Player of the Week a combined eight times. Senior corner Darryl Feemster (Defensive) and junior defensive back Don Jones (Special Teams) won the award most recently on Dec. 5 following the Troy game. Jones also won the special teams award on Oct. 10. Senior defensive end Brandon Joiner won the award on Nov. 14 following the Louisiana-Lafayette game. Senior safety Kelcie McCray (Defensive) earned the recognition on Oct. 10 following the ULM game. Junior quarterback Ryan Aplin was named the Offensive Player of the Week on Oct. 3 and Nov. 7 following the WKU and FAU games, respectively. Sophomore kicker Brian Davis the Special Teams Player of the Week on Sept. 26 following the UCA game.
CFPA RECOGNITION: Senior WR Dwayne Frampton, senior safety Kelcie McCray, junior punter Ryan Wilbourn, senior punter Neely Sullivent, senior WR Josh Jarboe, junior QB Ryan Aplin and senior LB Demario Davis have all been national honorable mention selections at their respective position by the College Football Performance Awards this season. Senior defensive end Brandon Joiner was also named the CFPA national defensive performer of the week. Sophomore kicker Brian Davis has been named the CFPA’s national placekicker of the week and an honorable mention choice at the position as well.
HOME SWEET HOME: With a 6-0 home record this season, Arkansas State secured its seventh consecutive winning record at ASU Stadium dating back to 2005. ASU is now 31-7 at ASU Stadium since the 2005 season. The Red Wolves actual on-field record all-time at ASU Stadium is 123-70-1 since it opened in 1974. ASU’s six home wins this season are its most since 1985, and the last time the Red Wolves went undefeated at home was 2005 (5-0).
CROWD SUPPORT: Arkansas State’s first two home games this season were played in front of the largest back-to-back crowds in ASU Stadium history. The 29,872 in attendance for the Memphis game made it the second largest crowd in ASU Stadium history and the 27,918 announced for the UCA game was the fourth largest. The Red Wolves average home attendance of 21,257 was a school record, topping the old record of 21,105 set in 2008. ASU’s average attendance of 21,257 was the second highest in the Sun Belt Conference.
NICE CROWD IN NOVEMBER: The attendance for the Arkansas State-UL Lafayette game was 20,261, making it the largest crowd ever for November game at ASU Stadium.
MIDSEASON ALL-CONFERENCE: A-State placed 11 players on Phil Steele’s Midseason All-Sun Belt Conference Team. Three ASU players were first team selections, including senior center Tom Castilaw who was also an honorable mention All-America choice by the publication. ASU’s other first team selections were senior WR Dwayne Frampton and senior DE Brandon Joiner. A-State’s second team selections included WR Josh Jarboe, CB Darryl Feemster and safety A.J. Hills. Third team choices included OL Delano Moore, LB Demario Davis, safety Kelcie McCray and kicker Brian Davis.
97th SEASON UNDER WAY: Arkansas State kicked off off its 97th season of football on Sept. 3 at Illinois. ASU now holds a 415-453-37 record since the inaugural 1911 season and has played in seven bowl games. A-State did not field a football team from 1942-44 due to World War II. ASU also didn’t have a team in 1918 as World War I was ending.
TV TIME: Arkansas State has already played nine televised games this season, and the GoDaddy.com Bowl is also slated for television. The Red Wolves will end their 2011 season with 10 televised games to match the school record set last season.
PRESEASON ALL-SUN BELT RECOGNITION: Sixteen different ASU players were named to at least one of the major preseason publication’s preseason All-Sun Belt Conference teams. The Red Wolves had at least one player on a preseason all-conference squad at 12 different positions, including quarterback (Ryan Aplin), running back (Derek Lawson), wide receiver (Dwayne Frampton, Allen Muse, Taylor Stockemer), center (Tom Castilaw), offensive tackle (James Williams), defensive tackle (Dorvus Woods, Amos Draper), linebacker (Demario Davis, Nathan Herrold), defensive end (Brandon Joiner), linebacker (Demario Davis), cornerback (Darron Edwards), safety (Kelcie McCray) and punt returner (Rod Hall).
ALL-CONFERENCE HONORS: Junior quarterback Ryan Aplin was selected as the Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year and senior defensive lineman Brandon Joiner was voted the Defensive Player of the Year, highlighting a school-record 15 All-Sun Belt Conference selections for ASU. Arkansas State’s 15 all-conference selections were the most since A-State landed 11 players on the list in 2008 and 2010. Former Arkansas State head coach Hugh Freeze was named the league’s Coach of the Year. Joining Aplin and Joiner as first-team selections were senior wide receiver Dwayne Frampton, senior offensive lineman Tom Castilaw, senior linebacker Demario Davis and senior defensive backs Darryl Feemster and Kelcie McCray. Arkansas State’s second-team selections were junior wide receiver Josh Jarboe, senior offensive lineman Delano Moore, senior defensive lineman Dorvus Woods, junior linebacker Nathan Herrold and senior defensive back Darron Edwards. Frampton was selected second-team special teams all-purpose player, and junior wide receiver Taylor Stockemer and senior punter Neely Sullivent were both named honorable mention all-conference.
PILING UP THE YARDS: The Arkansas State offense has recorded over 300 yards of total offense in all but one game, over 400 yards in seven games, over 500 in four games and over 600 in two. ASU is averaging 453.4 yards per game went over 5,000 total yards for the first time in school history. The Red Wolves’ 5,441 yards is a school record.
LIGHTING UP THE SCOREBOARD: A-State has recorded at least 30 points in eight games this season, including the last six in a row, and its 402 points are the third most in school history. The last time ASU scored 30-plus points in eight games was 1951 (10 times). ASU is ranked first in the Sun Belt Conference and No. 26 in the nation in scoring offense (33.5 ppg). ASU has scored 48 touchdowns and needs just three more for the second most in school history.
GROUND ATTACK: Arkansas State has recorded five 200-yard rushing games this season and holds a 5-0 record in those games. The Red Wolves’ five 200-yard games are their most in a single season since 2008 when it had five as well.
300-PLUS: Dating back to last season, Arkansas State has posted at least 300 yards of total offense 23 of its last 24 games. ASU’s school-record 14 consecutive games with over 300 yards of total offense came to an end against Virginia Tech earlier this season, but it has now reached the total in nine straight games.
MR. 3,000: Junior QB Ryan Aplin is one of just two players in Sun Belt Conference history to record 3,000 yards total offense in two different seasons. Aplin currently has 3,840 yards of total offense this season, and he recorded 3,416 last season as a sophomore. The only other player that has accomplished the feat is FAU’s Rusty Smith in 2007 and 2008.
NEARING MILESTONES: Junior quarterback Ryan Aplin enters the GoDaddy.com Bowl needing three touchdown passes to tie his own single-season school record of 21. Aplin also needs 422 yards to break the Sun Belt Conference record for single-season total offense (4,261 yards). Additionally, Aplin needs 490 yards of total offense to break the school record for a career (8,887). Senior wide receiver Dwayne Frampton needs one more 100-yard receiving game to break the school record of 5. Frampton also needs 10 receptions to become the second player in Sun Belt history to record 100 receptions in a season (North Texas’ Casey Fitzgerald did it 2008 and 2007).
AMONG THE BEST PASSERS IN SCHOOL HISTORY: Junior quarterback Ryan Aplin, who holds the school record for passing yards in a game (438 at UL Lafayette in 2010), is one of just three players in ASU history to record over 7,000 passing yards (7,063) and also one of just two to post over 8,000 yards of total offense (8,398). He is also ranked first all-time in completions (946) and third in TD passes (42). He has completed at least one TD pass in nine consecutive games, including multiple TD’s in the last three.
ECLIPSING 200/300: Junior quarterback Ryan Aplin has passed for at least 200 yards 21 times during his career, and all 21 games have come over his last 26 played. Aplin has recorded over 300 yards of total offense 12 times during his career, including the Illinois, UCA, WKU, FIU, North Texas, Middle Tennessee and Troy games this season.
LAWSON NEARING 2,000: With one game remaining, senior RB Derek Lawson needs 92 rushing yards to become the 12th player in ASU history with 2,000 career yards. Lawson is ranked 13th in school history for career rushing yards with 1,908 to his credit.
BREAKING THE SCHOOL RECORD: Senior WR Dwayne Frampton already has 90 receptions this season, breaking Robert Kilow’s old record of 72 in 2000. Frampton is the only player in ASU history to record 60+ receptions in two different seasons (90 in 2011 and 69 in 2010). Frampton also broke the school record for single-season receiving yards this year, completing the regular season with 1,125 yards to his credit.
THREE OVER 100: Senior WR Dwayne Frampton has posted five 100-yard receiving games, including a career-high 153 against Troy last game. Three games were played consecutively against UCA (100), WKU (126) and ULM. Frampton also had 99 receiving yards in the season opener at Illinois and 141 against Middle Tennessee. For the entire year, he is ranked 11th in the nation in receptions (7.5 pg) and 18th in receiving yards (93.8 ypg). Frampton was on the Biletnikoff Award Watch List.
1,000 YARD CLUB: Junior wide receiver Taylor Stockemer and senior receiver Dwayne Frampton both went over 1,000 receiving yards for their careers this season. Stockemer accomplished the feat during the Virginia Tech game and Frampton against UCA. Frampton has a team-high 1,863 yards to rank 3rd in school history, while Stockemer has posted 1,478 yards to rank seventh.
FRAMPTON EXTENDS STREAK: Senior wide receiver Dwayne Frampton caught 10 passes last game against Troy, extending his streak of consecutive games with at least one reception to 24. He has caught a pass in every game he has played at A-State. Frampton is ranked 11th in the nation in receptions (7.5 rpg).
MANNING AWARD STAR OF THE WEEK: Following his performance in Arkansas State’s 47-3 victory over Memphis, quarterback Ryan Aplin was selected as one of eight quarterbacks from across the nation to be named to the Manning Award Stars of the Week list. Aplin completed 19-of-21 passes for 274 yards and three touchdowns in the victory over the Tigers. His completion rate of 90.5% was the second highest in school and Sun Belt Conference history.
JARBOE PUTS UP BIG NUMBERS: Josh Jarboe hauled in seven passes for 162 yards and two touchdowns in the Red Wolves’ 47-3 victory over Memphis earlier this season. Jarboe’s 162 receiving yards rank as the 10th-best single game performance all-time at ASU. His 162-yard performance was also the best by an ASU player since 1999.
RIMINGTON AWARD WATCH LIST: Senior center Tom Castilaw is on the 2011 Rimington Award Watch List issued annually to the nation’s top center, making him the second ASU player to ever earn the preseason recognition. Tanner Jenkins was also on the list in 2006.
BILETNIKOFF AWARD WATCH LIST: Senior wide receiver Dwayne Frampton and junior wide receiver Josh Jarboe were the first players in school history to ever be named to the Biletnikoff Award Watch List for the nation’s top receiver.
CAREER DAY: Senior DE Brandon Joiner tied an Arkansas State and Sun Belt Conference record with four sacks against Louisiana-Lafayette, and he also tied his personal career high with a team-best eight tackles. Joiner became the third ASU player and seventh Sun Belt player to ever post four sacks in a game. His four sacks total ties the most in the nation this season, joining six other players to post four in a game. Joiner recorded a career-high 4.5 tackles for loss and a quarterback hurry as well. Joiner has now posted at least a partial sack in all but two games this year, and his 12 total on the season gives him the second most in ASU history and ties him for the second most in Sun Belt history.
APPROACHING MILESTONES: Sophomore kicker Brian Davis needs seven points to break the school record for points by kicking (96) in a single season. Senior defensive end Brandon Joiner needs two sacks to tie the school record (14) and break the Sun Belt Conference record (13).
SCORING DEFENSE: The Arkansas State defense has held six opponents under 20 points, including five of the last seven, this season. This year marked the first time since 1987 ASU held three consecutive opponents under 20 points. The last time A-State held six opponents to less than 20 points over the course of an entire season was 2002 and seven opponents was 1986. ASU is No. 14 in the nation and No. 1 in the Sun Belt Conference in scoring defense (19.3 ppg).
STINGY DEFENSE: The ASU defense has held five opponents under 300 yards total offense, including four of the last six, and eight under 350 yards. The last time ASU held eight teams under 350 yards of total offense was 2008. ASU is ranked No. 20 in the nation in total defense.
HOLDING THEIR GROUND: The ASU defense has allowed just 4.6 yards per play this season, which is the fifth lowest average in Sun Belt history. The Red Wolves have also allowed just 28 touchdowns, which rank as the third fewest in league history. Additionally, its 19.3 points surrendered per game is the fourth lowest average in Sun Belt history.
FORCING TURNOVERS: While Arkansas State’s 28 total turnovers gained for the entire season are just two more than the next closest team in the Sun Belt, its 23 gained in league games are five more than the next closest. ASU has 18 interceptions and 10 fumble recoveries this year.
STOPPING THE RUN: The ASU defense is currently allowing just 3.1 yards per rush and 107.2 rushing yards per game, which would rank tied for the third lowest and second lowest averages, respectively, in Sun Belt history if the season ended today. The Red Wolves have allowed only one 100-yard rusher this year and are ranked No. 13 in the nation in rushing defense.
PICK IT OFF: While the Red Wolves didn’t record an interception in either of their first two games, they’ve now posted a combined 18 over the last 10 to climb to rank tied for 8th in the nation. Darryl Feemster has a team-high five interceptions and Kelcie McCray follows with 4 over that span. Darron Edwards has 3 and Qushaun Lee has 2, while Sterling Young, Justin Robertson and Demario Davis all have 1. ASU has recorded at least one interception in nine of the last 10 games.
YOUNG STEPPING UP: Since joining the starting lineup five games ago, redshirt freshman safety Sterling Young has averaged 7.0 tackles per game and recorded a team-best 35 total tackles. He posted a career-high 10 tackles against FAU to lead the ASU defense.
PLAYING BEHIND THE LINE OF SCRIMMAGE: Arkansas State is ranked among the national leaders in both tackles for loss and sacks this season. The Red Wolves are No. 15 in the nation and No. 2 in the SBC in sacks (2.8 per game) and No. 11 in the nation and No. 1 in the SBC in tackles for loss (7.7 per game). With two games left, ASU already has its most sacks (31) and tackles for loss (84) since 2002.
GETTING TO THE QUARTERBACK: Dating back to last season, senior defensive end Brandon Joiner has recorded at least a partial sack in 14 of ASU’s last 17 games. In fact, 15.5 of his 16.0 career sacks at A-State have come over the Red Wolves last 17 games. He has at least a partial sack in nine of ASU’s first 12 games this season.
LOMBARDI AWARD WATCH LIST: Senior linebacker Demario Davis is the fifth player in school to be named to the Lombardi Award Watch List, issued to the top college lineman at the end of the season. Davis, a 2010 First Team All-Sun Belt choice, joins Alex Carrington (2009), Matt Mandich (2008), Tanner Jenkins (2006) and Garry Johnson (2001 and 2002) as A-State players that have been named to the award’s watch list.
DAVIS HONORED: After breaking the ASU and Sun Belt Conference records for both field goals made in a game (6) and points scored by kick (23) during the Red Wolves’ game against Central Arkansas, sophomore kicker Brian Davis received numerous honors. Davis, who was only one field goal and one point shy tying NCAA records, was named a Lou Groza Star of the Week, the Sun Belt Conference Special Teams Player of the Week and the College Football Performance Awards’ National Placekicker of the Week. Davis was a perfect 6-of-6 on his field goal attempts and 5-of-5 on his extra point attempts.
FIRST TIME IN OVER A DECADE, BUT TWICE IN 2011: Arkansas State returned a blocked punt for a TD during the ULM game for the first time since 2000 (Sean Mitchell block and Danny Smith return against Richmond). Junior DB Don Jones blocked his first career punt and also returned it for a touchdown. It was ASU’s first special teams score since Kevin Jones returned a punt for a TD against Memphis in 2007. The Red Wolves came back to block another punt in its regular-season finale against Troy that Jones returned for a touchdown.
DIALING IT UP FROM LONG DISTANCE: Sophomore kicker Bobby Zalud kicked a career-best 56 yard field goal against Memphis that tied the third longest in school history and in the NCAA this season. His 56-yard field goal is also the second longest in Sun Belt Conference history behind only a 57-yard make by North Texas’ Jason Ball in 2001. Zalud also had a 53-yard field goal against Troy and 49-yard field goals against Illinois and FIU. He is now 6-of-9 on his field goal attempts this year with all six makes coming from over 40 yards.
NEARING A SCORING RECORD: Sophomore kicker Brian Davis has scored 90 points by kicking this year, the second most in school history and just six shy of the school record. He has made 16 field goals this year that are the fourth most in school history and his 42 extra points made are just one short of the ASU record.