Arkansas State Football 2012 Bowl Capsule

Arkansas State Red Wolves
Sun Belt


Coach Gus Malzahn wasted no time keeping Arkansas State among the best of the best in the Sun Belt. Coach Malzahn took the team over after Hugh Freeze left for Mississippi. It certainly would have been understandable if this team took a step back while dealing with the coaching transition. And maybe it did for a while. The Red Wolves started the season 2-3, but that included losses to Oregon and Nebraska. After that, Coach Malzahn played great football.

2012 Record: 9-3, 7-1
Coach: Gus Malzahn
Coach Bowl Record: 0-0

Big Wins: 10/23 at Louisiana (50-27), 11/8 Louisiana-Monroe (45-23)
Bad Losses: 9/15 at Nebraska (13-42), 9/29 Western Kentucky (13-26)

The Arkansas State offense is a bit different under Coach Malzahn. In 2011, quarterback Ryan Aplin threw for 3,588 yards and 19 touchdowns. He also led the team in rushing and added ten trips to the end zone on the ground. Aplin is for real and he really matured during his senior season. This year he did not quite throw for as many yards, but he boosted his touchdown total in the air and drastically cut down on his interceptions. Interceptions were a huge, huge problem in 2011. It is not a problem anymore. Aplin can still run, but he does not have to as much anymore. David Oku has turned into the workhorse back. Oku also provides the Red Wolves with a real red zone threat outside of Aplin. This offense is used to just being Aplin, and occasionally his wide receivers, making plays. Now they have a steady ground game from somebody besides the quarterback. Some teams have to stick quite a few guys in the box to contain Oku and have a spy on Aplin who is always a threat to tuck and run. That leaves Aplin with many more opportunities to go down field and find receivers like J.D. McKissic and Josh Jarboe.

But everybody expected the offense to be good and they have not disappointed. But the defense has also played quite well. And heading into the 2012 campaign the Red Wolves defense was extremely inexperienced. Behind the depth and relative experience of the linebackers, the defense pulled together and had a very good season. This is not one of the top one or two units in the Sun Belt, but they can make plays. Tim Starson spends a lot of time in the backfield and Eddie Porter has a knack for forcing fumbles. Linebackers Nathan Herrold and Qushaun Lee are the top two tacklers on the team and have some versatility to mix things up. The secondary may get beat on occasion, but Chaz Scales is an experienced senior and Sterling Young is developing into a very good free safety. If the defense can have a good day, Arkansas State can come back to Jonesboro with their first ever bowl victory.

Statistical Leaders:
Rushing: David Oku, RB, 1,024 yards
Passing: Ryan Aplin, QB, 3,128 yards
Receiving: J.D. McKissic, WR, 909 yards
Tackles: Nathan Herrold, LB, 109
Sacks: Tim Starson, DE, 4.5
Interceptions: Nathan Herrold, LB, 3

2012 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 212.27 (24th in nation, 1st in conference)
Passing Offense: 266.82 (41, 3)
Total Offense: 479.09 (18, 2)
Scoring Offense: 35.64 (27, 1)
Rushing Defense: 159.18 (59, 5)
Pass Defense: 244.00 (72, 3)
Total Defense: 403.18 (67, 4)
Scoring Defense: 27.73 (61, 3)
Turnover Margin: .55 (34, 3)
Sacks: 1.64 (84, 5)
Sacks Allowed: 1.18 (23, 4)

Recent Bowl Appearances:
2011 Bowl    Northern Illinois (20-38)    
2005    New Orleans Bowl    Southern Mississippi (19-31)    

*all team stats through 11/24


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