JONESBORO, AR – A busy Monday for the Arkansas State football team featured a special visit from Larry Lacewell, one of the program’s all-time great coaches, prior to the Red Wolves’ afternoon practice inside ASU Stadium as they continued their game-week preparations with the Bowl approaching.

Lacewell, A-State’s head football coach from 1979-89, took time to visit with the team at the ASU Football Facility just prior to its 2:30 p.m. workout. Lacewell led ASU to a school-record 69 victories on the gridiron, including 12 victories during the 1986 campaign when it finished as the NCAA Division I-AA national runner-up. Lacewell coached four teams that advanced to the I-AA playoffs, including the 1984, 1985, 1986 and 1987 squads. He also guided ASU to back-to-back Southland Conference titles in 1985 and 1986.

“It was great having Coach Lacewell on campus today to speak to our football team,” said ASU Interim Head Coach David Gunn. “You can’t say enough about the job he did here and the accomplishments that were achieved while he was leading the football program. He reminded our guys they are not just playing for themselves, but for the University, community and everyone that has come through here before them. He talked about the the excitement this team has generated and the opportunity we have in front of us.  I think for our guys to have the opportunity to hear that coming from someone who has enjoyed so much success here really got their attention, and it was certainly appreciated by our coaching staff and players.”

In addition to their afternoon practice, the Red Wolves held a morning walk-thru and numerous meetings throughout the day. ASU will hold its final practice in Jonesboro tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. before departing for Mobile at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday morning.

“We had a good day and got a lot of work done,” said Gunn. “I thought the recognition was much better today. The focus was better on the defense and we had some good moments on offense. We had a couple of lapses, but I thought overall we were mentally sharp and had a productive practice.”

ASU continued to implement its game plan for the Bowl on Jan. 8, when it will face a 10-3 Northern Illinois team that claimed the Mid-American Conference championship. The Huskies have won eight straight games and are receiving votes in both the USA Today Coaches Poll and Associated Press Poll.

“Northern Illinois is obviously a very good football team,” said Gunn. “You can’t say enough about their offense and they are very solid defensively. The have more of a bend but don’t break attitude, and they aren’t going to beat themselves. They are a well-coached and experienced football team and its going to be a great challenge that we look forward to.”