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A-STATE GAME NOTES: at Georgia State

November 16, 2021

GAME 11: Arkansas State (2-8, 1-5) at Georgia State (5-5, 4-2)
Nov. 20, 2021 | Center Parc Stadium
Atlanta, Ga. | 1:00 p.m. (CT)
Radio: EAB Red Wolves Sports Network (107.9 FM, flagship)
Matt Stolz (pxp), Phillip Butterfield (analyst), Brad Bobo (sideline)
Television: ESPN3
Matt Stewart (pxp), Sam Crenshaw (analyst)
Live Stats:
Live Game Notes:

ON TAP:  Arkansas State is set to play its final road game of the season, traveling to Atlanta this week to face Sun Belt Conference East Division member Georgia State on Saturday, Nov. 20, at 1:00 p.m. (CT).  The contest will appear on ESPN3, and every A-State football game can be heard live on the EAB Red Wolves Sports Network, including flagship station 107.9 FM in the Northeast Arkansas area.
THE PRINCIPALS:  Coming off its first Sun Belt Conference victory of the season, Arkansas State wraps up a two-game road swing at Georgia State on Saturday.    The Red Wolves will enter the contest looking for wins in back-to-back road games for the first time since the 2015 season.  They’ll face a 5-5 Georgia State team coming off its first win over a top-25 ranked opponent in school history after defeating No. 22/21 Coastal Carolina.
HEAD COACH BUTCH JONES:  Butch Jones was announced as the Red Wolves’ 31st all-time head football coach on December 12, 2020.  Jones not only brought 11 years of head-coaching experience at the NCAA FBS level with him to Jonesboro after previous stops leading the football programs at Tennessee (2013-17), Cincinnati (2010-12) and Central Michigan (2007-09), but he also spent the last three seasons (2018-20) working as part of Nick Saban’s staff at national-power Alabama.  During Jones’ first 11 seasons serving as a head coach, his teams combined to win four conference championships, played in eight bowl games and finished ranked in the AP Top 25 five times.  He has coached a combined 77 all-conference honorees and 27 NFL Draft picks.
DEBUT GAMES:  Butch Jones is A-State’s 31st all-time head coach, but became just the 11th to claim a victory in his first ever game at the school.  Each of the two head coaches (Blake Anderson and Bryan Harsin) immediately preceding Jones won their initial games, but Harsin in 2013 was actually the first to do so since Larry Lacewell in 1979,  snapping a streak of seven head coaches to drop their debuts.  A-State’s head coaches to win their first game at the school include Jones (2021), Anderson (2014), Harsin, Lacewell, Bill Davidson (1971), Gene Harlow (1955), Glen Harmeson (1954), Bill Adams (1939), Jack Dale (1931), Bill Stanley (1924) and Clint Young (1913).  Among the same group, Davidson was the last to win his first two games in 1971.
FAMILY TIES:  Research indicates that Butch Jones is one of nine FBS head coaches in the nation with a son currently playing at an FBS institution.  Adam Jones, one of Jones’ three sons, is currently a redshirt freshman wide receiver for the Red Wolves after transferring from Central Michigan to A-State after Jones accepted the Red Wolves’ head coaching position.  Jones’ oldest son, Alex, is also in his first season in an offensive quality control position for the Red Wolves.  His youngest son, Andrew, is a member of the freshman football team at Valley View in Jonesboro.
THE ARKANSAS STATE – GEORGIA STATE SERIES:  Arkansas State holds a 6-1 all-time record against Georgia State in the series that dates back to just 2013.  The Red Wolves and Panthers met four consecutive years from 2013-16, but didn’t play each other in 2017.  The series resumed in 2018 with a 51-35 A-State victory, one year before Georgia State picked up its lone win in the series by topping the Red Wolves 52-38 in Atlanta.  The most recent contest between the two schools saw A-State escape with a 59-52 victory at Centennial Bank Stadium last year.  Five of the seven games between the two programs have been decided by at least 14 points.
Oct. 15, 2020:  at A-State 59, Georgia State 52
Oct. 5, 2019 :  at Georgia State 52, A-State 38
Oct. 18, 2018:  at A-State 51, Georgia State 35
Nov. 3, 2016 :  A-State 31, at Georgia State 16
Oct. 31, 2015 :  at A-State 48, Georgia State 34
Oct. 11, 2014 :  A-State 52, at Georgia State 10
Nov. 23, 2013 :  at A-State 35, Georgia State 33
A-STATE vs THE SUN BELT:  Arkansas State has won 59 of its last 85 Sun Belt Conference games (.694 winning percentage) to run its all-time record in the league to 91-62.  The Red Wolves hold their most all-time victories against ULM with 29.  A-State has defeated every team in the conference since the football league was formed in 2001.  Along with ULM and Louisiana, A-State is one of three teams that have been a part of the conference since its inaugural football season.
GEORGIA RED WOLVES:  Arkansas State has 12 players on its roster from the state of Georgia, including  four who are listed on its current depth chart.  The list includes Josh Edwards (Atlanta), Torren Coppage-El (Lilburn), Antonio Fletcher (Lithonia), Dennard Flowers (Fairburn), Thurman Geathers (Acworth), John Mincey (Homerville), Dane Motley (Alpharetta), Jalil Muhammad (Fairburn), Marcel Murray (Hiram), Genuine Potts (Powder Springs), Nason Simmons (Canton) and Trevian Thomas (Americus).
RED WOLVES NOVEMBER:  Arkansas State holds a 1-1 record in its two November games this year and is now 29-10 over its last 39 games played in the month.  The Red Wolves had won nine consecutive November games before dropping its 2019 regular-season finale at South Alabama.
ON THIS DATE:  Dating back to the 1916 season, Arkansas State holds a 2-8 record when playing on Nov. 20.  The Red Wolves have dropped their last three games on the date, most recently falling 45-27 at Texas State in 2014.  Their last Nov. 20 victory came 23-21 in 1993, knocking off Nevada in Jonesboro.  A-State defeated Southern Arkansas 13-7 in 1931 for its other victory on the date.
AN A-STATE VICTORY WOULD . . . :  give the Red Wolves back-to-back victories against Georgia State and move their all-time record versus the Panthers to 7-1 . . . improve its record to 30-10 over its last 40 games played in the month of November . . . give it wins in back-to-back road games for the first time since 2015 . . . give it back-to-back wins for the first time since O. 10 and O. 15 of last year when it defeated Central Arkansas and Georgia State, respectively.
IT’S GOOD:  Junior kicker Blake Grupe earned his fourth career Sun Belt Conference Special Teams Player of the Week honor after kicking a 42-yard game-winning field against ULM.  He continues to climb the A-State record books this season, taking over first place for career points by kicking (336), field goals made (59) and PAT made (159).  He now needs just seven points to become A-State’s all-time scoring leader among all players.  Grupe has posted a double-digit points total in three of 10 games this season, including a career-high 14 against Memphis.  Grupe is 15-of-18 on field goal attempts this season, including a career-long covering 50 yards against Tulsa.
FOR STARTERS:  Super senior offensive lineman Jacob Still has started 51 career games during his six years as a member of the Arkansas State football program, tying former quarterback Dwane Brown (1984-87) for the most in school history.  Still didn’t see any action during his redshirt freshman year in 2016, but started every game in 2017 (12) and 2018 (13), while also starting 11 in 2019, 10 in 2020 and five this year.
TWO-TIME SBC PLAYER OF THE WEEK:  Senior running back Alan Lamar was named the Sun Belt Conference Special Teams player of the week after posting a school-record 232 kickoff return yards, including a 100-yard touchdown, during the Red Wolves’ road game at South Alabama.  He also garnered the honor following A-State’s game at Tulsa when he had a 93-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
THAT’S A RECORD:  During A-State’s game against ULM, senior running back Alan Lamar posted 93 kickoff return yards to run his season total to 1,186 and break the Sun Belt Conference record previously held by Florida Atlantic’s DiIvory Edgecomb (1,155 yards in 2007).  Lamar is one of six players in league history to record over 1,000 kickoff return yards in a season.  His 1,186 yards are also a school record, topping the previous high of 1,062 posted by Brandon Thompkins in 2007.  Lamar’s kickoff return yards lead the nation by 579 yards.
ALEXANDER THE GREAT:  Senior safety Elery Alexander has posted double-figure tackles in four games this year and has 72 stops on the season, which rank tied for the seventh most in the Sun Belt Conference.  His 72 tackles this year tops his total for his first two seasons with the Red Wolves by seven stops as he recorded 11 in 2019 and 54 in 2020.  Alexander has five career games with at least 10 tackles.
PASSING ATTACK:  Including a school-record 582 passing yards against Memphis, 443 versus Georgia Southern (ninth most in school history) and 444 at ULM (eighth most), Arkansas State has thrown for 3,207 yards and 24 touchdowns this season.  The Red Wolves are averaging 320.7 passing yards per game and have 24 passing touchdowns that rank 12th and 17th in the nation, respectively.  A-State has thrown for at least 300 yards and two scores in six of its 10 games, including the UCA, Memphis, Tulsa, Georgia Southern, Louisiana and ULM contests.
PICK IT OFF:  Arkansas State posted two interceptions last week versus ULM and now has 10 on the season, which tops its six total for all of last year.  Seven players have combined for the 10 interceptions, including Samy Johnson, EJ Alexander, Jeffmario Brown, Leon Jones, Jarius Reimonenq, Kenneth Harris and Denzel Blackwell.  Johnson now has four career interceptions, Reimonenq three and Harris two, while the other four players have posted their first pick this year as a member of the A-State football team.  A-State has posted at least one interception in each of the last four games for its longest streak since 2016 when it did so in five straight.
DISRUPTING THE BACKFIELD:  Junior defensive end Kivon Bennett has made an immediate impact on the A-State defense his first season with the program, already posting 13.5 tackles for loss and 6.0 sacks.  The Tennessee transfer has recorded at least a half-tackle for loss in all but one game and at least a half sack in six outings.  Bennett is ranked tied for 10th in the nation in TFL with 1.4 per game.
DYNAMIC DUO:  A-State’s two starting defensive ends, Jojo Ozougwu and Kivon Bennett, have combined for 27.0 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks through A-State’s first 10 games.  Both players have recorded at least 6.0 sacks this year, and Ozougwu has posted 13.5 tackles for loss to match Bennett’s total stops behind the line of scrimmage.
EXPERIENCE UP FRONT:  Arkansas State entered the season with nine different offensive linemen who had combined to start 149 career games at the FBS level, which was the fourth most in the nation behind only Minnesota (180), Miami (159) and Michigan State (151).  Including players who have started at least one FCS game, the Red Wolves had 10 o-linemen who combined for 157 career starts, which was also the fourth most in the nation behind Illinois (193), Minnesota (180) and Miami (159).
RUCKER HONORED:  Wide receiver Corey Rucker was named the Sun Belt Conference Offensive Player of the Week on Sept. 6 after recording nine receptions for 138 yards and three touchdowns against UCA.  He was also named the league’s offensive player of the week following the Red Wolves’ 2020 season finale.  Over his last 11 games played, he has recorded 57 receptions for 1,038 yards and 12 receiving touchdowns — he has at least one TD reception or rush in seven of those 11 outings.
HOME SWEET HOME:  Arkansas State strung together 16 consecutive years from 2005-20 with a winning record at Centennial Bank Stadium.  The Red Wolves are now 72-23 (.758 winning percentage) when playing at home since the 2005 season.  A-State’s actual on-field record all-time at Centennial Bank Stadium is 164-86-1 since it opened in 1974.
A LOOK BACK:  A-State’s first spring camp under HC Butch Jones wrapped up April 17 with its spring game at Centennial Bank Stadium.  There were several spring-camp team awards presented as the football staff chose five individuals who maintained consistent success on the field, in the weight room and in the classroom.  The players recognized for “consistency in performance” were wide receiver Corey Rucker (offense), linebacker Caleb Bonner (defense) and kicker Blake Grupe (special teams).  Senior safety EJ Alexander was awarded the “Pack Performance Award” for his consistent performance in the weight room.  Defensive back Taylon Doss was issued the 4-6/A to B” award for his performance on special teams in the secondary.
INSIDE THE 20:  Ryan Hanson has posted at least two punts inside the opponent’s 20-yard line in five of 10 games this year, including a career-high four against Washington.  His 17 total punts inside the 20 are the third most in the Sun Belt Conference.  Additionally, his 42.9 average per punt is almost a full three yards per attempt better than his 40.3 average a year ago.

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Original article source: | Article may or may not reflect the views of KLEK 102.5 FM or The Voice of Arkansas Minority Advocacy Council

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