Red Wolves Face UCF in Cure Bowl



ON TAP: Arkansas State claimed the 2016 Sun Belt Conference championship, its fifth over the last six seasons, and is now set to play in its sixth consecutive bowl game Dec. 17 at 4:30 p.m. (CT), when it will face American Athletic Conference member UCF in the Cure Bowl at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla.  The contest will be televised by CBS Sports Network and 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 concluded its regular season with a 7-5 overall record and a Sun Belt Conference title.  The team now has its sights set on playing in the AutoNation Cure Bowl presented by Florida Hospital.  The Red Wolves are making their first appearance in the Cure Bowl, which played its inaugural game last year, and competing in their 14th all-time bowl game.  A-State, the only FBS program in the nation to win five conference championships over the last six seasons, completed the regular season with a 7-1 mark in Sun Belt play. A-State began the season with an 0-4 non-conference record before starting league play by running off six consecutive victories and completing the regular season by winning seven of its last eight contests. In the process, the Red Wolves secured a winning record for the sixth consecutive season for the first time since 1912-17.  UCF finished its regular season 6-6 overall and 4-4 in league play to place tied for third in the East Division of the AAC.


0 turnovers committed by A-State in five games this season.

1 sack or less allowed by A-State in six of its last eight games.

1 sack needed by Chris Odom and 2 by Ja’Von Rolland-Jones to break the Sun Belt record (13) for a season.

1 or more turnovers gained by A-State in 32 of 38 games under defensive coordinator Joe Cauthen.

1.04 sacks per game by Chris Odom ranks fifth in the nation and 0.96 by Ja’Von Rolland-Jones ranks ninth.

3.1 sacks per game by the A-State defense ranks 12th in the nation.

4 career interception returns for a touchdown by Money Hunter are the most in Sun Belt history.

5 Sun Belt Conference championships (2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016) over the last six seasons.

5 head coaches over the last 7 years (Steve Roberts, Hugh Freeze, Gus Malzahn, Bryan Harsin, Blake Anderson).

5 career kick blocks by Chris Odom are the 2nd most in A-State history.

6 straight bowl game appearances (2011-16) — a school record.

6 consecutive winning seasons (2011-16) by A-State for the first time since 1912-17.

7 Sun Belt Players of the Week: Justice Hansen (twice), Chris Humes, Blaise Taylor, Money Hunter & Chris Odom (twice).

7 or more victories each of the last six seasons (2011-16) — first time in school history.

8 of last 10 years w/at least one NFL Draft selection.

9 of the last 12 seasons (2005-16) have seen A-State reach bowl eligibility, including the last six in a row.

9 games this season A-State posted more yards total offense than its opponent (6-3 record).

9.2 tackles for loss average by the A-State defense ranks second in the nation.

10 or more tackles by Xavier Woodson-Luster in nine career games, including three this season.

11 Sun Belt Conference Team Academic Awards over the last 14 years, including 2015.

12 consecutive seasons with a winning record at Centennial Bank Stadium (2005-16).

14 all-time bowl-game appearances, including the Cure Bowl, by Arkansas State.

15 completions needed by Justice Hansen to become the 4th player in A-State history w/200 in a season.

15 punt return yards needed by Blaise Taylor to break the school record.

16 current A-State players have already earned their degree.

16 All-Sun Belt Conference players ties last year’s team for the most in school history.

16.1 yards per attempt kickoff return defense is ranked fourth in the nation.

17.7 yards per reception by Blake Mack ranks 35th in the nation.

19 wins by A-State over its last 23 conference road games.

21 of A-State’s 23 victories under HC Blake Anderson have come by a double-figure margin.

22.2 points allowed per game by the A-State defense ranks 24th in the nation.

24 combined sacks by Ja’Von Rolland-Jones & Chris Odom — 2nd most in the nation by two players on same team.

25 career rushing touchdowns by Johnston White are the seventh most in school history.

28.5 career sacks by Ja’Von Rolland-Jones are both school and Sun Belt Conference records.

30 or more points scored by A-State in 46 of its last 71 regular-season games (65 percent).

40 Sun Belt Conference victories over the last six (2011-16) seasons (40-7 league record).

42 interception return yards needed by Money Hunter to break the Sun Belt Conference record (309).

51 victories by A-State over the last six seasons ranks tied for the 24th most in the nation.

57 passing yards needed by A-State to become the 5th team in school history with 3,000 in a season.

79 All-Sun Belt Conference selections over the last six seasons.

96 combined points allowed by A-State last seven games are the fewest over a seven-game span since 1987.

133 rushing yards needed by Warren Wand to reach 1,000 for the season.

200 or more yards passing by Justice Hansen four of the last six games and six times total.

292 or less yards total offense allowed by the Red Wolves’ defense the last three games.

300 or more yds total offense in 79 of last 89 games (88 pct.), including all but 4 games under Blake Anderson.

323.2 average yards allowed by A-State’s defense the last 10 games, which would rank 14th in the nation.

342 passing yards needed by Justice Hansen to become the 3rd player in A-State his w/3,000 in a season.

502 yards total offense needed by A-State to finish the regular season with a 400 yards per game average.

734 career punt return yards by Blaise Taylor are the second most in Sun Belt Conference history.

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 Sun Belt Conference championships (2015 and 2016), as well as three straight winning seasons and bowl game appearances (2016 Cure Bowl, 2015 New Orleans Bowl and 2014 GoDaddy Bowl) his first three years at the helm.  Under his direction, the Red Wolves have also set new 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 three years at the helm of the program, he saw 29 of his players earn 45 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).

THREE YEARS RUNNING:  Even with a bowl game remaining on the Red Wolves’ schedule, Blake Anderson is already the first head coach in Arkansas State history to win 23 or more games over his first three seasons at the school.  Additionally, he is the just the second head coach at A-State to win 23 games in 38 or fewer contests — Bennie Ellender reached 23 victories in 36 games from 1963-67.

ABOVE AVERAGE:  The Red Wolves have averaged 34.76 points per game over the last three seasons, making Blake Anderson one of just 15 current head coaches with at least two full FBS seasons under their belt to average at least 34 points per game.

1. Jeff Brohm, Purdue – 44.55 (1,782 points/40 games)

2. Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M – 39.90 (4,628 points/116 games)

3. Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech – 38.82 (1,941 points/50 games)

4. Chris Petersen, Washington – 38.65 (5,565 pts/144 games) 

5. Mike Gundy, Oklahoma St. – 37.09 (5,676 pts/153 games)

6. Jimbo Fisher, Florida State – 36.35 (3,417 points/94 games)

7. Bryan Harsin, Boise State – 36.22 (1,847 points/51 games)

8. Bobby Petrino, Louisville – 35.99 (5,434 points/151 games)

9. Todd Graham, Arizona State – 35.94 (5,176 pts/144 games)

10. Bobby Wilder, Old Dominion – 35.66 (3,424 pts/96 games)

11. Larry Fedora, N. Carolina – 35.32 (4,132 pts/117 games)

12. Sonny Dykes, California – 34.92 (3,003  points/86 games)

13. Blake Anderson, Arkansas State – 34.76 (1,321/38 games) 

14. Gus Malzahn, Auburn – 34.30 (2,195 points/64 games)

15. Dana Holgorsen, WVU – 34.02 (2,586 points/76 games) 

THE ARKANSAS STATE – UCF SERIES:  The Red Wolves and Knights are set to meet for just the second time ever, also playing during the 1991 season when A-State was an NCAA independent transitioning to FBS status and UCF was an NCAA FCS member.  Arkansas State held a 14-3 halftime lead in the game, but UCF scored 28 of the 34 second-half points to claim a 31-20 road victory in Jonesboro.

A-STATE vs. THE AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE:  Arkansas State holds an all-time record of 27-37-5 against current members of the American Athletic Conference. However, the Red Wolves are set to face a team competing as a member of the league at the time of the game for just the second time in school history.  Their only other such game came in 2013 when they fell to Memphis.  A-State also has future home-and-home games scheduled against AAC opponents, including SMU (2017/2019), Tulsa (2018/2020) and Memphis (2020-23).  A-State has played the following current AAC teams, although they weren’t members of the league at the time of the game:  UCF (0-1), Cincinnati (1-1), East Carolina (0-2), Navy (0-1), SMU (1-1) and Tulsa (2-2).  The Red Wolves hold an all-time 23-29-5 record against Memphis.

SUN BELT CHAMPS:  Arkansas State claimed the 2016 Sun Belt Conference championship, giving it back-to-back titles with a combined 15-1 league record over that span.  A-State also won the league title 2011-13, making it one of just two programs in league history with at least five all-time SBC titles — Troy is the other with five as well.  Arkansas State is the only FBS program in the nation to win five conference titles over the last six seasons, and the Red Wolves hold a 40-7 Sun Belt record during that time.  The Red Wolves’ 7-1 Sun Belt record this season matched the 2012 squad for their third best record ever in the league — Arkansas State went 8-0 in both 2011 and 2015.

A-STATE vs. THE SUN BELT:  Arkansas State has won 40 of its last 47 Sun Belt Conference games (.851 winning percentage) to run its all-time record in the conference to 73-43.  The Red Wolves hold their most all-time victories against ULM with 24.  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-SUN BELT CONFERENCE:  Highlighted by junior defensive end Ja’Von Rolland-Jones’ selection as the Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year, Arkansas State had 16 players earn 17 selections to the all-conference team.  The Red Wolves saw at least 10 players named all-conference for the seventh consecutive year and 10th time since the league’s inaugural football season in 2001.  The 16 All-Sun Belt Conference players also tied the mark for the most ever by an A-State team, matching the total from 2015.

ALL-TIME CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS:  Including five of the last six Sun Belt Conference titles, Arkansas State has won 12 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 ELIGIBLE:  With a 7-5 overall record, A-State was bowl eligible for the sixth consecutive season and ninth time over the last 12 years.  Since joining the FBS in 1992, Arkansas State became bowl eligible in 10 games or less for the sixth time (2011-16).  The earliest A-State ever became bowl eligible was in 2011 when it was 6-2 through eight games.

BOWL HISTORY:  Not including the Cure Bowl, 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 six consecutive years (2011-16) 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.

SIX STRAIGHT:  Arkansas State has secured its sixth consecutive season with a winning record for the first time since 1912-17.  The Red Wolves have piled up 51 victories from 2011-16 for its most over a six-year span in the program’s 102-year history.  A-State has never produced seven consecutive winning seasons.

SIX-YEAR WINS TOTAL:  Including back-to-back 10-win seasons in 2011 and 2012, eight more in 2013, seven in 2014, nine last season and seven this year, the Red Wolves have recorded 51 victories that are tied for the 24th most in the nation over the last six years.


Team                           2011    2012    2013    2014    2015    2016    Total

Alabama                        12         13         11         12         14         13         75

Clemson                        10         11         11         10         14         12         68

Florida State                  9          12         14         13         10         9          67

Ohio State                     6          12         12         14         12         11         67

Stanford                        11         12         11         8          12         9          63

Boise State                    12         11         8          12         9          10         62

Oregon                          12         12         11         13         9          4          61

Oklahoma                      10         10         11         8          11         10         60

Northern Illinois             11         12         12         11         8          5          59

Wisconsin                      11         8          9          11         10         10         59

Michigan State               11         7          13         11         12         3          57

Georgia                         10         12         8          10         10         7          57

LSU                              13         10         10         8          9          7          57

Baylor                           10         8          11         11         10         6          56

Louisville                       7          11         12         9          8          9          56

Houston                        13         5          8          8          13         9          56

Oklahoma State             12         8          10         7          10         9          56

Toledo                          9          9          7          9          10         9          53

USC                              10         7          10         9          8          9          53

San Diego State             8          9          8          7          11         10         53

Nebraska                      9          10         9          9          6          9          52

Western Kentucky          7          7          8          8          12         10         52

Kansas State                  10         11         8          9          6          8          52

Arkansas State           10        10        8          7          9          7          51

Notre Dame                   8          12         9          8          10         4          51

Texas A&M                    7          11         9          8          8          8          51

Michigan                        11         8          7          5          10         10         51

TCU                              11         7          4          12         11         6          51

BYU                              10         8          8          8          9          8          51


DOUBLE DIGITS:  Six of A-State’s seven wins this season have come by at least 10 points, and the Red Wolves average margin of victory in its seven Sun Belt wins is 20.0 points.  Additionally, all nine of its wins last season and six of its seven in 2014 came by a double-figure margin, meaning 21 of the Red Wolves’ 23 wins under head coach Blake Anderson have come by 10 or more points.  The only exceptions were a 21-14 overtime win over Utah State in 2014 and a 27-26 victory over Georgia Southern this year.

ROAD WARRIORS:  Arkansas State has won 19 of its last 23 conference road games dating back to the 2011 season.  A-State had won 10 consecutive conference road games, its longest streak ever as a member of any league, before falling at Western Kentucky in its 2013 regular-season finale.  The Red Wolves went 4-0 in conference road games in 2011, 2012 and 2015, 2-1 in 2013 and 2-2 in 2014.  This year A-State was 3-1 with its lone setback coming at Louisiana-Lafayette.

AN A-STATE VICTORY WOULD . . . :  Improve A-State’s all-time record against UCF to 1-1 . . . Give the Red Wolves eight victories, matching the 2013 team for their fourth most ever as an FBS member (since 1992) . . . Give it at least eight victories for the fifth time over the last six seasons . . . Give it five all-time bowl-game victories, three bowl wins over the last six years and its first bowl championship since 2013 . . . Move A-State’s all-time record in games versus American Athletic Conference members to 1-1 . . . Snap a six-game non-conference skid for the Red Wolves.

TAKING ON THE TOP 25:  Arkansas State claimed a 35-3 victory over then-ranked No. 25 (AP) Troy on Nov. 17, claiming its second win over a top-25 team since joining the FBS in 1992.  The other victory came against No. 25 Kent State in the 2013 GoDaddy Bowl.  The Red Wolves’ game against Troy was its only one this season against a Top-25 ranked opponent at the time of the game.

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.

THAT’S A FIRST:  The Red Wolves have 27 players who have participated in their first career game at A-State this season, including nine as starters.  There are 15 offensive players who have seen 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, starter), Justin McInnis (So., WR), Omar Bayless (Fr.-R, WR, starter), Darveon Brown (Fr.-R, WR), Avery Johnson (Fr.-R, TE), Troy Elliott (Fr., OL, starter), Cameron Davis (Fr.-R, OL), Jamal Jones (Fr.-R, RB), Jaylon Marshall (Fr.-R, WR) and Dalton Ford (Fr.-R, OL) . . . There are nine defensive players, including Dee Liner (Jr., DL, starter), BJ Edmonds (Fr., S),  Kyle Martin (Jr., CB), Trent Ellis-Brewer (Fr., DB, starter), Antwon Turnage (Jr., LB), Kyle Wilson (Jr., LB, starter), Kirk Louis (Fr.-R, LB), Jeremy Smith (Fr., CB) and TJ Wilson (Fr.-R, DE) . . . The remaining two are Sawyer Williams (Fr.-R, K) and Damon Foncham (Fr.-R, P).

102ND SEASON:  Arkansas State kicked off its 102nd season of football Sept. 2 vs. Toledo.  A-State holds a 457-477-37 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.

HOME SWEET HOME: Arkansas State has strung together 12 consecutive years (2005-16) with a winning record at Centennial Bank Stadium dating back to 2005. The Red Wolves are now 55‐13 (.809 winning percentage) since the 2005 season and have won 30 of their last 36 home games. The Red Wolves actual on‐field record all‐time at Centennial Bank Stadium is 147‐76‐1 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.


RUSHING RED WOLVES:  While Arkansas State rushed for over 100 yards only once in its four non-conference games, it reached the mark in seven of its eight Sun Belt games.  There has been a stark contrast in A-State’s rushing production since beginning conference play as its 179.0 average over its last eight outings is 98.2 yards per game higher than its non-conference average.  The Red Wolves have actually rushed for at least 200 yards in three of their last eight games, including a season-high 343 against Georgia Southern.  A-State has won its last 11 games when rushing for at least 200 yards.

MORE OFFENSE, FEWER POINTS:  Despite outgaining Utah State, Central Arkansas and Louisiana-Lafayette in total offense, the Red Wolves suffered setbacks against all three teams.  It marked just the second, third and fourth times A-State lost a game under head coach Blake Anderson when it actually had more offensive yards, as the other came in 2014 against Louisiana-Lafayette as well (595-521).  The Red Wolves are now 19-4 in such games over the last three seasons (5-1 in 2014, 8-0 in 2015, 6-3 in 2016).

EXPLOSIVE PLAYS:  Arkansas State increased its number of plays covering at least 20 yards each of its first four games this season, and the Red Wolves’ posted a season-high nine against both UCA and Georgia Southern.  A-State is averaging 5.5 explosive plays (20+ yards) per game and has at least seven in four of its last nine contests.

PROTECTING THE FOOTBALL:  A-State was able to reverse its early-to-mid-season turnover trend its last eight games, turning the ball over just four times during that span after committing 12 combined over its previous three games.  The Red Wolves haven’t committed a single turnover in five games this season and no more than one in each of its last seven outings.  The Red Wolves began the season without committing a turnover in its first two games, while it also didn’t have any versus ULM, Troy and Texas State.  Since joining the Sun Belt Conference in 2001, A-State had gone back-to-back games without a turnover only one other time — its final regular-season game and bowl game of the 2012 season.

TWO-MINUTE OFFENSE:  Twenty-five of Arkansas State’s 49 scoring drives this season have taken less than two minutes (51.1 percent) and just 11 drives have consumed more than three minutes (22.4 percent).  Last year’s team tended to score in the same manner, taking less than two minutes 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 79 of its last 89 games (.888 percentage).  A-State went over 300 yards in all 13 games during head coach Blake Anderson’s first season, reached the mark 11 times last year and has done so 10 times this season.

400-PLUS:  Arkansas State recorded a season-high 525 yards total offense against Georgia Southern and has hit the 400-yard mark 23 times over its last 38 games (61 percent) since 2014, which was Blake Anderson’s first season as head coach.  A-State had increased its total offense each game this season prior to the South Alabama contest (first five games).

LIGHTING UP THE SCOREBOARD:  Including five of the last six contests, the Red Wolves have now posted at least 30 points in 46 of their last 71 regular-season games (65 percent) dating back to the 2011 season. The Red Wolves have won 14 consecutive games and 34 of their last 38 when scoring at least 30 points.

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 153 combined starts between them.  Senior center Devin Mondie is a member of the Rimington Award Watch List, Colton Jackson has started 45 games during his career (all but two) and Jemar Clark joined them on the Preseason All-Sun Belt Conference team.

NOW THAT’S JUSTICE:  Since taking over as starting quarterback in the Central Arkansas game, sophomore Justice Hansen has helped lead the Red Wolves to a 7-2 record.  During that span, Hansen has recorded at least two hundred passing yards five times, while also throwing multiple touchdown passes in five outings.  He has thrown 16 touchdown passes (all but one over the last eight games), which are tied for the sixth most in school history for a single season.  Hansen has been named the Sun Belt Conference Offensive Player of the Week twice this season.  He holds 137.9 pass efficiency rating for the entire season that is ranked second in the conference and first among players with at least 110 attempts.

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 has 33 receptions for a team-high 585 yards and three touchdowns.  His first two seasons combined at wide receiver, Mack posted 17 receptions for 235 yards.  He caught eight passes for 142 yards against UCA, which were both career highs, and was named a Mackey Award Honorable Mention Tight End of the Week for his performance.

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 and now has 25 running scores during his career.  He recorded a season-high two rushing touchdowns against Georgia State and has at least one in 12 of his last 21 games played.  White’s 14 running scores last season tied the fifth most in school history.  His 25 career rushing touchdowns are the seventh most in school history.  Additionally, he is ranked 46th in the nation among active players in career rushing scores.

WAND BREAKS 1,000:  Running back Warren Wand has run for a team-high 867 yards this season to go along with his 709 he recorded as a true freshman, pushing him over 1,000 for his career with 1,567 to his credit.  His 709 yards were the most by a true freshman at A-State since Lamont Zachery ran for 846 yards in 1996.  His current 1,557 yards are the most by an A-State player over his freshman and sophomore seasons since Reggie Arnold ran for 2,136 combined yards in 2006 and 2007.


16 OR LESS:  Arkansas State has allowed 16 points or less in five of its last seven games and given up a combined 96 points over that span (13.7 per game), which is the lowest total for seven consecutive games by the Red Wolves in their FBS history.  Additionally, it is their lowest total at any level since allowing 95 over a seven-game stretch during the 1987 season.  The Red Wolves have won their last 38 straight games when holding their opponent to no more than 10 points.  A-State has won 24 consecutive games when holding its opponent to 17 points or less.

DECEIVING AVERAGE:  While A-State’s defense is allowing 374.5 yards total offense per game to rank 42nd in the nation, the Red Wolves’ opponents are averaging 323.2 over the last 10 games.  The 323.2 average total offense allowed would rank the Red Wolves 14th in the nation.  A-State gave up 556 yards to Toledo and 706 to Auburn, but has held nine of its last 10 opponents to no more than 382 yards.  It has limited its opponent to less than 300 yards in four outings this year, including the last three games in a row.

BETTER ON THIRD DOWN:  Arkansas State has allowed opponents to convert, on average, 27 percent of its third-down attempts the last eight games, considerably lower than its 37 percent for the entire season that ranks 41st in the nation.  A-State’s third-down conversion percentage over the last eight games would rank fourth in the country.

A LOSS ON THE PLAY:  The Red Wolves had 13 players combine for season-high 19 tackles for loss last game against Texas State, which are the second most in the nation this season and just four shy of the NCAA record (since 2000).  A-State has now recorded at least five stops behind the line of scrimmage in every game this year.  The squad has posted eight or more TFL in seven of their last eight contests.  A-State has 110 TFL this season, which are the second most in the Red Wolves’ FBS history behind their 115 in 1998.  The Red Wolves are averaging 9.2 tackles for loss per game, which is ranked as the second highest in the nation behind only Michigan’s 9.6.

PICK IT OFF:  While A-State has 11 interceptions for the entire year, 10 of them came over the last seven games and it recorded a season-high two versus, ULM, Georgia State, Troy and Texas State.  The Red Wolves 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).

PICK-SIX:  Arkansas State posted its only pick-six this season three weeks ago versus New Mexico State after recording six interception returns for a touchdown last year, 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.

TURNOVER KINGS:  Arkansas State, which forced at least one turnover in nine of its 12 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 32 of 38 games played under defensive coordinator Joe Cauthen.

BUCKLE DOWN:  A-State has been one of the most successful teams in the nation in fourth-down defense, limiting opponents to just five conversions on 18 attempts for a .278 percentage that ranks sixth in the nation.  Since Sun Belt Conference play began, the Red Wolves have been even better as they have actually allowed just three conversions on 15 attempts for a .200 mark.

RECORD BREAKER:  Senior safety Money Hunter was named the Sun Belt Conference Defensive player of the week after he became the Sun Belt Conference’s all-time leader in career interception returns for a touchdown, collecting his fourth during Arkansas State’s 41-22 victory over New Mexico State.  He pushed his career interception return yards total to 268, which gave him the second most in Sun Belt history and the third most ever by an A-State player.  He is also now tied for the most pick-six’s in the nation among active players, while his 268 return yards are the sixth most among the same group.

ODOM CONTINUES TO SHINE:  Senior defensive end Chris Odom has come on strong this season, especially over the last seven games with 28 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and a blocked kick over that span.  Odom tallied a career-high three sacks against both South Alabama and Texas State, and with one game remaining, he has already posted career-high totals for tackles (52), tackles for loss (17.5), sacks (12.5) and forced fumbles (4).  In fact, his tackles, TFL, sacks and FF are all more than he had combined for his entire career entering this season.  He was named the Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Week following A-State’s win over Troy.

SWALLEY NAMED SEMIFINALIST:  Senior DL Jake Swalley was tabbed as one of the William V. Campbell Trophy’s 156 semifinalists, announced Sept. 28 by the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame (NFF).  The award recognizes an individual as the best football scholar-athlete in the nation.  Swalley, a general studies major, holds a cumulative 3.9 GPA and is on course to graduate in December.

DOUBLE-FIGURE STOPS:  Senior linebacker Xavier Woodson-Luster recorded a double-figure tackles total during three of A-State’s first 12 games, including a career-tying 14 against both Toledo and Georgia Southern.  He has now reached double figures in the tackles column nine times during his career.  Woodson-Luster is ranked 30th in the nation among active players in career tackles with 286.

PLAYING IN THE BACKFIELD:  Junior defensive end Ja’Von Rolland-Jones picked up a half sack last game versus Texas State, running his career total to 28.5 and moving him past Marvin Neloms (1983-86) for the Arkansas State record.  He also became the Sun Belt Conference’s all-time leader this season, taking the top spot from Western Kentucky’s Quanterus Smith (2009-12).  He has recorded at least a half TFL in 10 games this season and in 24 of his last 29 contests dating back to his freshman year.  He also has 11.5 sacks this season, which are the foruth most in school history.

DYNAMIC DUO:  A-State’s Ja’Von Rolland-Jones and Chris Odom make up the only set of teammates in the nation to both rank among the top 20 in the nation in total sacks.  Additionally, they make A-State the only team in the nation to have two players with 10 or more sacks.  The Red Wolves’ duo has combined for 24.0 sacks, the second most in the nation by a set of teammates.  They were both members of the Ted Hendricks Award Watch List.

Team               Players                                                            Total Sacks

Florida State      Brian Burns (9.5), Demarcus Walker (15)             24.5

Arkansas State   Chris Odom (12.5), Ja’Von Rolland-Jones (11.5)    24.0



BOOT IT AWAY:  Freshman punter Damon Foncham recorded two punts inside the opponent’s 20 yard line last game against Texas State, giving him at least one in the last 10 consecutive games and 18 total for the season.  He had at least one punt covering 47-plus yards for the fourth straight outing and has seven 50-plus yard punts for the year. Six of those came over the last five games.

BLOCK PARTY:  Senior defensive end Chris Odom recorded his first blocked kick (extra point) this season against Georgia State, but he posted a team-high three blocked kicks last season as a junior (tied third most in school history) and one as a sophomore.  Now with five career blocks, he has the second most in school history behind only Jimmy Lisko’s eight from 1972-75.  Odom recorded  two blocks during the 2015 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.

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 three-year career has seen him pile up 734 punt return yards that are the second most in both A-State and Sun Belt history.  He has three punt returns for touchdowns (1 in 2014, 2015 and 2016), which are the second most in Sun Belt Conference history.



Tags: ,