Let Howls Begin Tonight; Red Wolves Host Toledo


GAME 1:  Arkansas State (0-0) vs. Toledo (0-0)

Sept. 2, 2016 | Centennial Bank Stadium

Jonesboro, Ark. | 8:00 p.m.

Television:  ESPNU, ESPN3

Live Stats:  AStateRedWolves.com

Live Game Notes:  twitter.com/AStateGameDay

ON TAP: Arkansas State, which has won four of the last five Sun Belt Conference titles and made five consecutive bowl-game appearances, will kick off its 2016 campaign Friday with an 8:00 p.m. ESPNU-televised home game against Mid-American Conference member Toledo.  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 (AStateRedWolves.com) and the A-State Athletics app.

THE PRINCIPALS:  Arkansas State is entering its third year under head coach Blake Anderson, who has compiled a 16-10 record at the school while leading the program to back-to-back bowl-game appearances and the 2015 Sun Belt Conference championship.  A-State is the only FBS program in the nation to win four league championships over the last five seasons.  The Red Wolves were picked to finish second in the 2016 Sun Belt Conference Preseason Coaches Poll.  Toledo is under the direction of first-year head coach Jason Candle, who spent the previous seven years as an assistant coach with the program.  The Rockets are coming off a 10-2 season, including a win in the Boca Raton Bowl, and are currently receiving votes in both the Associated Press and Coaches Top 25 polls.


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:  Now with 16 career victories leading the Red Wolves, Blake Anderson is 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 – TOLEDO SERIES:  Friday’s game will mark the fifth all-time meeting between Arkansas State and Toledo.  The Rockets hold a 4-0 lead in the series, most recently picking up a 37-7 victory last season in Toledo and a 63-44 win in the 2015 GoDaddy Bowl.  Toledo’s other two victories both came at home in 1990 (43-28) and 1992 (49-0).


FAMILIAR FOE:  While the 2015 GoDaddy Bowl marked the first meeting between Arkansas State and Toledo since 1992, the Red Wolves are now set to face the Rockets for the third time over their last 15 contests.  A-State ended the 2014 season with a bowl-game matchup against Toledo and faced the Rockets again in its fourth game of the 2015 campaign.


A-STATE vs. MID-AMERICAN CONFERENCE:  Including Toledo, Arkansas State has faced nine current members of the Mid-American Conference.  The Red Wolves are 8-15 all-time against current members of the league, but eight of those games have been played against Northern Illinois.  A-State is 1-7 against the Huskies and a combined 7-8 against Akron (1-1), Ball State (1-0), Bowling Green (0-1), Central Michigan (1-0), Eastern Michigan (2-1), Kent State (1-0), Toledo (0-4) and Western Michigan (1-1).  Four of those meetings were played in the 2012-15 GoDaddy Bowl games, with A-State holding a 2-2 record in those contests.


SEASON OPENERS:  A-State fell to then-ranked No. 8 USC in its first game of 2015, snapping a two-game winning streak for the Red Wolves’ in season openers after previously beginning 2013 with a 62-11 win over UAPB and 2014 with a 37-10 victory against Montana State.


HOME OPENERS:  Although A-State fell 27-20 to Missouri in its 2015 home opener, the Red Wolves have still won their first game at Centennial Bank Stadium in 10 of the last 11 seasons dating back to 2005.  Arkansas State stands 30-12 all-time in home openers at the stadium and is also 16-7 in such games since moving to FBS status in 1992.


HOME SWEET HOME:  Arkansas State has strung together 11 consecutive years with a winning record at Centennial Bank Stadium dating back to 2005.  The Red Wolves are now 51-11 (.822 winning percentage) since the 2005 season and have won 26 of their last 30 home games.  The Red Wolves actual on-field record all-time at Centennial Bank Stadium is 143-74-1 since it opened in 1974.  A-State’s six home wins in 2011 were its most since 1985.


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 is set to kick off its 102nd season of football Sept. 2 vs. Toledo.  A-State holds a 450-472-37 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.


AN A-STATE VICTORY WOULD . . . :  give the Red Wolves a victory in its home opener for the 11th time over the last 12 seasons . . . mark its first ever victory against Toledo . . . give A-State 45 victories over the last six seasons . . . mark the third time over the last four seasons the Red Wolves have won its season opener . . . give it nine consecutive regular-season victories and nine wins over its last 10 total games . . . extend the Red Wolves home winning streak to five games.


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 22nd most in the nation over the last five years.


Team                2011     2012     2013     2014     2015     Total

Alabama            12         13         11         12         14         62

Florida State      9          12         14         13         10         58

Oregon              12         12         11         13         9          57

Clemson            10         11         11         11         14         57

Ohio State         6          12         12         14         12         56

Northern Illinois 11         12         12         11         8          54

Michigan State   11         7          13         11         12         54

Stanford            11         12         11         8          12         54

Boise State        12         11         8          12         9          52

Oklahoma          10         10         11         8          11         50

Baylor               10         8          11         11         10         50

LSU                  13         10         10         8          9          50

Georgia             10         12         8          10         10         50

Wisconsin          11         8          9          11         10         49

Oklahoma State 12         8          10         7          10         47

Notre Dame       8          12         9          8          10         47

Louisville           7          11         12         9          8          47

Houston            13         5          8          8          13         47

Cincinnati          10         10         9          9          7          45

Marshall            7          5          10         13         10         45

TCU                  11         7          4          12         11         45

Arkansas State   10         10         8          7          9          44

USC                  10         7          10         9          8          44

Kansas State      10         11         8          9          6          44

Toledo              9          9          7          9          10         44


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)


PERFECT LEAGUE RECORD:  A-State is the only SBC program to ever go 8-0 in league play during multiple seasons (2015 and 2011).  Along the same lines, it is just the second all-time Sun Belt program with multiple undefeated seasons in league play (2015 and 2011) — the other is North Texas (2002-04).


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.




TWO-MINUTE OFFENSE:  The Arkansas State offense scored in two minutes or less on 35 of its 58 touchdown drive last season 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 69 of its last 77 games (.896 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, including the last nine games in a row.


400-PLUS:  Arkansas State has posted at least 400 yards total offense in 18 of 26 games (69 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 59 regular-season games (69 percent) dating back to the 2011 season, including 15 of the last 19 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.


MOVING THE LINE OF SCRIMMAGE:  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.


RUSHING RED WOLVES:  Arkansas State has posted at least 200 rushing yards in seven of their last nine games, dating back to last season.  The Red Wolves ran for over 200 yards in five straight games (first time since 1988 when it was an FCS member) at one point during the 2015 season.  Arkansas State ranked 15th in the nation in rushing offense, averaging 231.3 yards per game.


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 nine games.  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.


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.




LOCK IT DOWN:  A-State’s pass defense efficiency has ranked among  the top two teams in the Sun Belt Conference each of the last two seasons — first in 2014 at 122.3 and second in 2015 at 120.1.  Last season, the Red Wolves ranked 41st in the nation in the stat.  The Red Wolves posted 26 interceptions (most in the nation), and allowed just a 54.0 completion percentage (21st in the nation).


BREAK IT UP:  Arkansas State saw 15 different players combine to record 51 pass break-ups last season, which were its third most ever as an FBS member.  The last time the Red Wolves had recorded more than 47 pass break-ups was 2013 when it had an FBS-era record 57.  Senior safety Cody Brown (then a junior) posted a team-high nine pass break-ups and ranked tied for fifth in the Sun Belt in passes defended with 12.  Brown was the only player in the Sun Belt ranked among the top 35 players in tackles and top five in both passes defended and interceptions.


PICK IT OFF:  The Red Wolves led the nation in interceptions last season 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.  Entering the 2016 season, the squad has at least one interception in 11 of its last 12 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 ranked second in the nation in turnovers gained last season with 34, including 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 23 of 26 games played under defensive coordinator Joe Cauthen.


GETTING TO THE QUARTERBACK:  Arkansas State has recorded 30 or more sacks in back-to-back seasons for the first time ever during its FBS era (1992-cur.).  Sixteen players combined for 31 sacks a year ago, which came one year after tallying 37.  The Red Wolves ranked second in the SBC in sacks and 41st in the nation.


PLAYING IN THE BACKFIELD:  Junior defensive end Ja’Von Rolland-Jones recorded at least a half TFL in 10 games last season and in 14 of his last 17 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 17.0 for his career.  He has tallied at least a half sack in 12 of his last 18 games.


THE FAST LAIN:  Junior linebacker Khari Lain led the Red Wolves in tackles last season as a sophomore with 81, giving him a 6.2 average that ranked tied for 20th in the Sun Belt Conference.  With an expanded role last season, Lain posted 75 more tackles than he had as true freshman.




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:

Stat                               2014 Rank         2015 Rank

Blocked Kicks                41 (2 total)        7 (4 total)

Net Punting                    19 (39.8 avg.)    13 (40.4 avg.)

Kickoff Returns              31 (22.5 avg.)    8 (25.9 avg.)

KO Return Def.              4 (16.3 avg.)     18 (18.7 avg.)

Punt Return Def.            9 (3.1 avg.)       23 (4.7 avg.)

Punt Returns                  30 (11.5 avg.)


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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