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October 3, 2012

Inside Slant: Arkansas State team report

Arkansas State has to forget Saturday's let down against Western Kentucky quickly because they play on a short week at Florida International on Thursday night.

The Red Wolves (3-2,0-1) are coming off a game that featured maybe the team's best and worst halves of the year in a 26-0 loss to the Hilltoppers after blowing a 13-0 lead at the half in a 26-13 loss.

Historically, ASU has performed well in midweek games since joining the Sun Belt Conference. Since the 2001 campaign, the Red Wolves hold a 7-3 record in all midweek games and a 5- 2 mark when playing on Thursday.

ASU has won its last two midweek games, defeating FIU 34-16 on a Tuesday last season and Middle Tennessee 51-24 on a Tuesday in 2010.

"Moving forward is what we have to do. We have a game Thursday and we've got to put this last one behind us," said ASU head coach Gus Malzahn. "It's a short week and we're playing a very good team again."

A loss Thursday for either team means two conference losses early in the season for two teams that were picked to come in first and second in the Sun Belt.

The Red Wolves have not won at FIU since 2006.

NOTES, QUOTES

  • ASU had its eight-game conference winning streak snapped on Saturday 26-13 at the hands of Western Kentucky.

  • The game features the top two picks in the Sun Belt Conference preseason poll, both in need of their first win in the league after forgettable starts.

  • The Red Wolves have not lost back-to-back regular-season games since suffering three consecutive setbacks to end the 2010 campaign. ASU's only two regular-season losses last year were both followed by victories, and ASU's first two setbacks this year were also followed by victories. Not only that, ASU won three of its four games following those losses by at least 29 points.

    Series History: ASU leads the series 5-2 having won the first four meetings but the two teams have split the last four.

    Scouting The Offense: Dating back to the 2010 season, Arkansas State has posted at least 300 yards of total offense 28 of its last 30 games. ASU's 12-game streak with over 300 yards total offense came to an end just two games shy of the school record against Nebraska earlier this season.

    Scouting The Defense: The ASU defense played maybe its best half of the year in the first half against Western Kentucky extending its scoreless quarters streak to six before allowing 26 points to the Hilltoppers in the second quarter.

    Quote To Note: "We're all disappointed. We felt like we had a real good chance to win that game at home. I feel very bad for our fans. I really appreciate our fans and how they were into the game. We've got to do a better job of getting their money's worth and we'll do that."-ASU head coach Gus Malzahn on losing last Saturdays home game.

    STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

    This Weeks Game: Arkansas State vs. Florida International, Oct. 4-Arkansas State head coach Gus Malzahn still in search of his for SBC victory as ASU's head coach.

    Keys To The Game: Arkansas State must take care of the ball on offense while getting David Oku into the open field. Also the Red Wolves need to hold their blocks longer to improve on the downfield passing game. Defense must rebound from the Western Kentucky second half debacle.

    Players To Watch:

    LB Nathan Herrold has a team-high 44 tackles, placing him tied for third in the Sun Belt Conference and tied for 49th in the nation in tackles. Herrold has also recorded at least a partial tackle for loss in the Red Wolves' last four games.

    QB Ryan Aplin has tossed at least one touchdown in 29 of his last 33 games dating back to his freshman season. Aplin has also thrown for at least 200 yards 25 times in his career and all 25 have come over ASU's last 32 games. Additionally, he has 15 career games with over 300 yards total offense, including five of the last eight.

    WR J.D. McKissic recorded at least six receptions in ASU's last four games, including a career-high eight against Memphis, Nebraska and Western Kentucky. He now has a team-high 34 catches to place him second in the Sun Belt Conference and tied for 18th in the nation in receptions. McKissic also has a team-best 328 receiving yards, which ranks sixth in the SBC.

    Roster Report

  • WR Taylor Stockemer should be back in the starting lineup after entering on the second drive against Western Kentucky and finishing with three receptions for 25 yards after not playing since the first quarter since the season opener at Oregon.

  • LB Qushaun Lee will be back in the lineup after missing the last game because of a conference suspension due to a helmet to helmet hit against Alcorn State.


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