Arkansas State Heads West Looking for Win at Utah State


GAME 3:  Arkansas State (0-2) at Utah State (1-1)

Sept. 16, 2016 | Maverik Stadium

Logan, Utah | 8:00 p.m. (CT)

Radio:  EAB Red Wolves Sports Network (107.9 FM, flagship)

Television:  CBS Sports Network

Live Stats:

Live Game Notes:


ON TAP: Arkansas State wraps up a two-game road swing Friday with its third non-conference outing of the season, this week facing Mountain West Conference member Utah State at Maverik Stadium in a CBS Sports Network-televised contest.  Every A-State game can be heard live on 107.9 FM in the Northeast Arkansas area.  The live radio broadcast can also be accessed on the official A-State Athletics web site ( and the A-State Athletics app.

THE PRINCIPALS:  Arkansas State, the only FBS program in the nation to win four conference championships over the last five seasons, enters Friday’s game still looking for its first victory of the season after dropping back-to-back games against Toledo and Auburn teams that are both receiving votes in the Coaches Top 25 Poll.  Utah State claimed a season-opening victory over Weber State at home before falling to USC on the road.

HEAD COACH BLAKE ANDERSON: Blake Anderson, a 16-year coaching veteran at the NCAA FBS level who also coached in an NJCAA National Championship game, was named the Red Wolves’ 30th all-time head football coach on Dec. 19, 2013.  Anderson led A-State to back-to-back winning seasons, a pair of bowl game appearances (2015 New Orleans Bowl and 2014 GoDaddy Bowl) and the 2015 Sun Belt Conference championship his first two seasons at the helm, which also saw the Red Wolves break the school records for total offense (6,174 yards in 2014), average yards total offense (476.5 yards per game in 2014), total plays (1,024 in 2014), points scored (520 in 2015), touchdowns scored (69 in 2015) and interceptions (26 in 2015).  During his first two years at the helm of the program, he saw 20 of his players earn 26 All-Sun Belt Conference selections — the most in the league over that span.

FAST START:  Out of 30 all-time head coaches at Arkansas State, Blake Anderson became one of just four to win at least seven games (2014) in his first season at the school.  The other head coaches to win at least seven games in their first season as head coach at A-State were Bryan Harsin (2013), Gus Malzahn (2012) and Hugh Freeze (2011).

TWO YEARS RUNNING:  With 16 combined victories in 2014 and 2015 while leading the Red Wolves, Blake Anderson became the first head coach in A-State history to win 12 or more games over his first two seasons at the school.  Additionally, Anderson is the only head coach in school history to direct A-State to 16 wins in 25 or fewer games.

THE ARKANSAS STATE – UTAH STATE SERIES:  Friday’s game will mark the seventh all-time meeting between Arkansas State and Utah State in the series that dates back to 1995.  The Red Wolves picked up a 21-14 home win in overtime against Utah State in 2014 — Blake Anderson’s first season as A-State’s head coach — to even their record against the Aggies at 3-3.  All three Arkansas State victories came at home, also defeating Utah State 21-17 in the initial 1995 meeting and 16-7 in 2004.  At the same time, all three setbacks suffered by A-State came at Utah State between 1999-2003.  Five of the six meetings have been decided by 13 points or less.

OLD TIES:  While Arkansas State and Utah State have played each other six times previously, this will be just the second non-conference tilt between the two programs.  A-State and Utah State have shared two different conferences, including the Sun Belt from 2003-04 and the Big West from 1993-95 and 1999-2000.

A-STATE vs. THE MOUNTAIN WEST:  While Arkansas State has faced nine current members of the Mountain West Conference, this week’s game will mark just the second time it has played a game against an opponent while it was a member of the league — the other was Utah State in 2014 as well.  The Red Wolves have played Boise State (0-2), Colorado State (0-2), Hawaii (1-0), Nevada (2-3), San Diego State (0-1), San Jose State (1-1), UNLV (0-1), Utah State (3-3) and Wyoming (0-2), although all but one of those games were played before those teams joined the MWC.  A-State holds a combined 6-16 record in those contests.  Additionally, A-State at one point or another was a member of the Big West Conference with five of those teams — Boise State, Nevada, San Jose State, UNLV and Utah State.

FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS:  While Arkansas State entered this season having not played a Friday game since Dec. 19, 1986, this week’s game against Utah State will mark its second Friday game this year.  A-State’s season opener against Toledo was its first Friday game in 30 years.  A-State’s 1986 game was actually the NCAA I-AA (now FCS) championship contest, played against Georgia Southern — the Red Wolves’ first Sun Belt Conference opponent this season.

REMEMBER ME:  A-State has 20 players on its current roster who saw action in the 2014 game against Utah State, including eight who started — Jemar Clark, Devin Mondie, Colton Jackson, Johnston White, Chris Odom, Darrius Rosser, Xavier Woodson-Luster and Money Hunter.  Both freshmen at the time, White and Dijon Paschal were responsible for two of the three touchdowns scored by A-State, including Paschal with the game-winning catch in overtime.  White also recorded a career-high 18 rushing attempts and ran for 100 yards in the game.  Defensively, Woodson-Luster was the Red Wolves’ second-leading tackler with 13 stops — one shy of his career high.  The other players to see action were Blaise Taylor, Nehemia Wagner, Daryl Rollins-Davis, Khari Lain, Blake Mack, Brandon Byner, Ja’Von Rolland-Jones, Ryan Eustace, Quanterio Heath, Caleb Caston and Austin Moreton.

AN A-STATE VICTORY WOULD . . . :  give the Red Wolves three consecutive wins against Utah State dating back to 2004, and run their all-time record against the Aggies to 4-3 . . . move A-State’s all-time record against Mountain West Conference opponents to 2-0 with both wins coming against the Aggies . . . snap a three-game skid dating back to the 2015 New Orleans Bowl . . . improve its record to 1-2 after three games for the third consecutive year and seventh time over the last eight seasons . . . give the Red Wolves five wins over its last six road games . . . mark its 45th victory over the last six seasons . . . snap a four-game skid against non-conference opponents.

THAT’S A FIRST:  The Red Wolves had 19 players participate in their first career game at A-State over the last two weeks, including four as starters.  There were 11 offensive players who saw their first action at A-State, including Chad Voytik (Sr., QB, starter), Kendall Sanders (Sr., WR, starter), Cam Echols-Luper (Jr., WR, starter), Armond Weh-Weh (Jr., RB), Christian Booker (Jr., WR), Justice Hansen (So., QB), Justin McInnis (So., WR), Omar Bayless (Fr.-R, WR), Darveon Brown (Fr.-R, WR), Avery Johnson (Fr.-R, TE) and Dalton Ford (Fr.-R, OL).  There were six defensive players, including Dee Liner (Jr., DL, starter), BJ Edmonds (Fr., S),  Kyle Martin (Jr., CB), Trent Ellis-Brewer (Fr., DB), Antwon Turnage (Jr., LB) and Kyle Wilson (Jr., LB).  The remaining two were Sawyer Williams (Fr.-R, K) and Damon Foncham (Fr.-R, P).

RED WOLVES TABBED SECOND IN SBC PRESEASON POLL:  Arkansas State was picked second in the Sun Belt Conference Preseason Coaches Poll, receiving 110 points and five first place votes.  The Red Wolves have been picked to finish among the top three teams in the league eight of the last 11 years, but have never been picked to win the Sun Belt Conference.

PRESEASON ALL-SUN BELT CONFERENCE:  A league-high 11 A-State players received 12 selections to the 2016 Preseason All-Sun Belt Conference Football Team.  Not only were the Red Wolves’ 12 total selections four more than the next closest team in the conference, they saw a league-best eight players tabbed first team.

102ND SEASON:  Arkansas State kicked off its 102nd season of football Sept. 2 vs. Toledo.  A-State holds a 450-474-37 record since the inaugural season and has played in 13 bowl games.  A-State did not field a 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.

FIVE-YEAR WINS TOTAL:  Including back-to-back 10-win seasons in 2011 and 2012, eight more in 2013, seven in 2014 and nine last season, the Red Wolves have recorded 44 victories that are tied for the 27th most in the nation over the last six years.

DON’T CALL IT A COMEBACK:  Three of Arkansas State’s victories last season came after the Red Wolves entered halftime behind on the scoreboard.  During those three victories, A-State outscored its opponents by a combined 86-23 in the second half.  The Red Wolves also defeated Utah State during the 2014 season after entering the second half behind, giving them four second-half comeback victories under head coach Blake Anderson.

DOUBLE DIGITS:  All nine A-State victories last season came by at least 10 points, and the Red Wolves average margin of victory in its eight Sun Belt wins was 21.1 points.  Six of A-State’s seven wins in 2014 also came by a double-figure margin, meaning 15 of the Red Wolves’ 16 wins under head coach Blake Anderson have come by 10 or more points.  The only exception was a 21-14 overtime win over Utah State in 2014.

FIVE ALIVE:  Arkansas State has secured five consecutive winning seasons (2011-15) for not only the first as an FBS member, but also the first time at any level since 1949-53.  The only time A-State has ever strung together six straight winning seasons was 1912-17.  The Red Wolves piled up 44 victories from 2011-15 for its most over a five-year span in the program’s 102-year history.

TOP 25:  Arkansas State was receiving votes in both the Associated Press (2 points) and Coaches (6 points) Top 25 polls at the end of the 2015 regular season, making  it the fourth season since 2011 that A-State was included among “others receiving votes” at one point during the year.  The Red Wolves also earned votes in 2011, 2012 and 2013.  A-State’s most ever points in the Associated Press (28) and Coaches (23) Top 25 came in the 2012 final polls.

SUN BELT CHAMPS:  Arkansas State won the 2015 Sun Belt Conference championship with an unblemished 8-0 record, giving it the league title for the fourth time over the last five seasons with a 33-6 conference record over that span.  A-State also won the league title 2011-13, including outright championships in 2011 and 2012.  It is just the second program in Sun Belt history with three (2015, 2011-12) outright titles, along with North Texas (2002-04).  Arkansas State is one of three programs to ever win at least four total Sun Belt Conference championships, joining North Texas (4) and Troy (5)

A-STATE vs. THE SUN BELT:  Arkansas State has won 33 of its last 39 Sun Belt Conference games (.846 winning percentage) to run its all-time record in the conference to 66-42.  The Red Wolves hold their most all-time victories against ULM with 23.  With the exception of Georgia Southern, which A-State has never faced as an SBC opponent, the Red Wolves have defeated every team in the conference since the football league was formed in 2001.  Along with ULM and Louisiana-Lafayette, A-State is one of three teams that have been a part of the conference since its inaugural football season.

ALL-TIME CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS:  Including four of the last five Sun Belt Conference titles, Arkansas State has won 11 conference championships all-time.  A-State won the Southland Conference seven times (1986, 1985, 1978, 1975, 1970, 1969, 1968).  The Red Wolves also won the 2005 Sun Belt Conference title, but it was later vacated due to NCAA sanctions.

BOWL HISTORY:  Arkansas State has played in 13 bowl games all-time and holds a 4-8-1 record in those contests.  The Red Wolves have made a bowl game five consecutive years (2011-15) for the first time in school history.  They played in the New Orleans Bowl last season and in the GoDaddy Bowl the four years prior to that, winning two of them during the 2012 and 2013 seasons.  A-State also played in the 2005 New Orleans Bowl, which marked its first bowl appearance since 1970.  Arkansas State played in seven bowl games from 1951-70, including the Pecan Bowl (1968-70), Tangerine Bowl (1952 & 1951) and the Refrigerator Bowl (1951-52).  The Tangerine Bowl was played in Orlando, Fla., the Pecan Bowl in Arlington, Texas, and the Refrigerator Bowl in Evansville, Ind.


PROTECTING THE FOOTBALL:  Through the season’s first two weeks, A-State is one of just seven teams in the nation that hasn’t committed a single turnover. Since joining the Sun Belt Conference in 2001, A-State has gone back-to-back games without a turnover only one other time — its final regular-season game and bowl game of the 2012 season.  The Red Wolves have never gone three consecutive games without a turnover since joining the Sun Belt.  With three turnovers gained, A-State is ranked tied for 14th in the nation in turnover margin.

TWO-MINUTE OFFENSE:  Three of Arkansas State’s four scoring drives this season have taken less than two minutes, while last year’s team scored in the same manner on 35 of its 58 touchdown drives for a 60.3 percentage that ranked among the 10 highest in the nation.

300-PLUS: Dating back to the 2010 season, Arkansas State has posted at least 300 yards of total offense in 70 of its last 79 games (.886 percentage).  A-State went over 300 yards in all 13 games during head coach Blake Anderson’s first season and reached the mark 11 times last year and once this season (at Auburn).

400-PLUS:  Arkansas State has posted at least 400 yards total offense in 18 of 28 games (64 percent) since 2014, which was Blake Anderson’s first season as head coach.  The Red Wolves posted over 500 yards total offense six times in 2015, including a season-high 624 yards against Missouri State.  The last time A-State had recorded at least 500 yards total offense in six or more games was 2012 when it did so seven times.

LIGHTING UP THE SCOREBOARD:  A-State has posted at least 30 points in 41 of its last 61 regular-season games (67 percent) dating back to the 2011 season, including 15 of the last 21 contests. The Red Wolves have won 29 of their last 33 games when scoring at least 30 points.  A-State broke the school record in 2015 for both points scored (520) and touchdowns scored (69).  Additionally, the Red Wolves ranked 12th in the nation in scoring offense last year, averaging 40.0 points per game.

RANKING THE O-LINE:  With all five starters returning on the offensive line in 2016, the Red Wolves’ front five received high praise from Athlon Sports as the No. 27 ranked o-line unit in the nation.  A-State’s first-team unit has 106 combined starts between them entering the 2016 season.  Senior center Devin Mondie is a member of the Rimington Award Watch List, Colton Jackson has started all 39 games of his career and Jemar Clark joined them on the Preseason All-Sun Belt Conference team.

BOOK IT:  Junior transfer wide receiver Christian Booker has made an immediate impact for the Red Wolves’ offense, at least tying for the team high in receptions each of the first two games.  He hauled in three catches against Toledo before coming back to catch a game-high six passes against Auburn.  Additionally, he led the Red Wolves in receiving yards against the Tigers with 92 to his credit.  His nine total catches lead the squad, while his 105 yards ranks second.

MAKING A MOVE:  Junior Blake Mack changed positions from wide receiver to tight end this season, and he appears to have transitioned well as he already has five receptions for a team-high 136 yards.  His first two seasons combined at wide receiver, Mack posted 17 receptions for  235 yards.

VOYTIK WEEK ONE TO WEEK TWO:  Senior Chad Voytik’s passing numbers improved significantly from game one to game two.  The Red Wolves’ quarterback had 91 more passing yards (124 to 215) and four more completions (11 to 15) in week two, while also increasing his completion percentage from 46 percent to 71.  Additionally, he finished with 65 more yards total offense (162 to 227).

FINDING THE END ZONE:  A former walk-on and Burlsworth Trophy nominee, junior running back Johnston White recorded a team and career-best 14 rushing touchdowns last season as a sophomore to give him 20 running scores during his career.  He has scored at least one rushing touchdown eight of his last 11 games played.  White’s 14 running scores last season tied for the fifth most in school history.  His 20 career rushing touchdowns are tied for the 10th most in school history.  Additionally, he is ranked 34th in the nation among active players in career rushing scores.

WAND MADE EARLY IMPACT:  Running back Warren Wand rushed for 709 yards, the second most on the team, last season and averaged 6.0 yards per carry as a true freshman.  His 709 yards were the most by a true freshman at A-State since Lamont Zachery ran for 846 yards in 1996.  Wand has rushed for at least 50 yards in seven games, including a career-high 119 against Georgia State.  He currently leads the team in rushing yards this season with 114 and now needs 177 more yards to reach 1,000 for his career.


PICK IT OFF:  While A-State has yet to intercept a pass this season, it led the nation in picks last year with a Sun Belt Conference record 26.  Fifteen different players combined for those 26 picks that were the third most in school history and the most by an A-State team since the 1969 squad posted a school-record tying 32 (tied with the 1961 team).  A-State posted a season-high four interceptions at ULM, and it recorded at least three in six games.

PICK-SIX:  Arkansas State recorded six interception returns for a touchdown last season, which was the second most in Sun Belt Conference history and just two shy of the NCAA record currently held by the 2011 Southern Miss and 2012 SMU teams.  While he coached on the offensive side of the ball, A-State head coach Blake Anderson was also a member of that 2011 Southern Miss team.  The current Sun Belt Conference record is seven, held by the 2011 Louisiana-Lafayette team.  The Red Wolves also posted a school-record 503 interception return yards, led by senior safety Money Hunter (then a junior) with 128 yards that ranked tied for the fifth most ever by an A-State player.  Hunter had two interception returns for a touchdown last season to tie the Sun Belt Conference record.  Additionally, he has three for his career to tie that Sun Belt record as well.

TURNOVER KINGS:  Arkansas State, which has forced at least one turnover each of its first two games this season, ranked second in the nation in turnovers gained last year with 34. That total included 26 interceptions and eight fumble recoveries.  They turned eight of those turnovers into defensive touchdowns, which led the nation.  A-State’s 34 turnovers gained tied the 2002 team for the most by the Red Wolves since joining the FBS in 1992, and it was also the programs most at any level since 1988 when it had 39.  The Red Wolves have recorded at least one turnover gained in 25 of 28 games played under defensive coordinator Joe Cauthen.

WILSON ON THE TACKLE:  Junior linebacker Kyle Wilson had at least seven tackles in each of his first two games, including a career-high nine last week against Auburn.  His 16 total tackles rank fourth on the team and rank tied for 21st in the Sun Belt.  Wilson is one of three linebackers that rank among the top four players on the A-State team in tackles.

HEATH APPROACHING CAREER BEST:  Senior linebacker Quanterio Heath already has 17 tackles, which are tied for the second most on the team and rank tied for 18th in the Sun Belt Conference.  He posted a career-high 11 against Toledo and his 17 stops are just 14 shy of his career-best 31 recorded last season as a junior.

DOUBLE-FIGURE STOPS:  Senior linebacker Xavier Woodson-Luster recorded a double-figure tackles total each of A-State’s first two games, including a career-tying 14 against Toledo.  He has now reached double figures in the tackles column eight times during his career.  Woodson-Luster is ranked 28th in the nation among active players in career tackles with 222.

PLAYING IN THE BACKFIELD:  Junior defensive end Ja’Von Rolland-Jones recorded at least a half TFL in 10 games last season and in 15 of his last 19 contests dating back to his freshman year.  He also had a team and Sun Belt Conference high 9.0 sacks last season, and he has a team-high 18.0 for his career.  He has tallied at least a half sack in 13 of his last 20 games.


SPECIAL TEAMS SOLID:  Arkansas State’s special teams units under coordinator Luke Paschall have become one of the best-rounded in the nation the last two seasons, ranking among the top 41 teams in the country in five different statistical categories and among the top 31 in four.

BLOCK PARTY:  Senior defensive end Chris Odom  posted a team-high three blocked kicks last season as a junior to tie third most in school history.  He recorded his first two career blocks during the Georgia State game, his first coming on a field goal and the second on an extra point attempt.  In the process, he became the seventh player in school history to record multiple blocks in the same game.  His third block came on a Texas State field goal attempt to end the first half.  The Red Wolves had four total blocks, which tied the fifth most in school history.

ON THE RETURN:  Junior cornerback Blaise Taylor   recorded 322 punt returns yards last season to lead the Sun Belt Conference and account for the second most in school history.  His two-year career has seen him pile up 556 punt return yards that are the second most in school history and the third most ever by a Sun Belt player.  He has two punt returns for touchdowns (1 in both 2014 and 2015), making him one of six Sun Belt players all-time with multiple scores.

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