The Red Wolves, coming off a season opening 33-15 loss on the road at Illinois, will be looking for their first win of the season and first of ASU head coach Hugh Freezes career at ASU against a Memphis team that is 0-1 after a 45 point setback at home against Mississippi State. The Tigers lost their season opener after going 1-11 season.
"I haven't experienced this rivalry before so I don't know exactly what that means when we say rivalry with them, but I do think that it is important for recruiting because we compete for a lot of the same kids," Freeze said. "The most important thing right now is that we get better from week 1 to week 2, and hopefully that results in a win."
A victory in this game would also be the first over a Division I nonconference opponent for Arkansas State after eight consecutive losses, the last win coming at Texas A&M, 18-14 in 2008.
Arkansas State should be able to put up big offensive numbers against Memphis. Last week marked the 13th consecutive game dating back to last years season opener that the Red Wolf offense garnered at least 300 yards of total offense, the longest streak in school history. All 13 games have also coincided with the 13 games Freeze has been either offensive coordinator or head coach.
Memphis will be starting a freshman at quarterback against Arkansas State on Saturday when true freshman Taylor Reed of El Dorado takes the field for his first career start.
"When he came to camp here, we decided to offer him after he left camp. We were his first offer because of our workout with him. With the time I spent with him, I knew he had a great head for the game and that was the first thing that jumped off the page at me the other night -his awareness of what was going on the defensive side. He was very aware of what was happening and where the ball should be going and the timing it should be coming out with.
Arkansas State has posted a winning record at ASU?Stadium the last six seasons dating back to 2005, holding a 24-7 record over that span. The Red Wolves actual on-field record all-time at ASU?Stadium is 116-70-1 since opening in 1974.
Three different A-State wide receivers caught a team-high five passes against Illinois, and four other players were responsible for the Red Wolves' other five receptions. Josh Jarboe, Taylor Stockemer and Dwayne Frampton all hauled in five passes to lead ASU. Frampton posted a 65-yard reception that was the longest of his career and Stockemer recorded 87 receiving yards that were just two shy of his career high. Jarboe, a highly touted recruit, made his debut at ASU?with 58 receiving yards.
Arkansas State has 17 players on its roster from the state of Tennessee, including 11 players coming directly from Memphis or the near area. Among the players from the Memphis area that are listed on A-State's 2-deep are Julian Jones (So., WR, Germantown), Tausean Holmes (Jr., DB, Millington), Sirgregory Thornton (So., RB, Memphis), Justin?Robertson?(Sr., DE, Memphis) and Nick Nelms (Jr., LB, Germantown).
SERIES HISTORY: Arkansas State has played Memphis more than any other opponent in school history, and Saturday's game will mark the 56th meeting all-time between the two schools since 1914. Memphis leads the all-time series 28-21-5, and won the last game played between the two schools by a 29-17 score in 2008. A-State will host Memphis for the first time since 2007 when it claimed a 35-31 victory by overcoming a 25-point halftime deficit. ASU also hosted Memphis in 2004 and set the ASU Stadium record for attendance with 30,427 fans on hand.
SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: The Red Wolves return their leading passer, top five rushers and three of their four most productive receivers from last year's team that finished second in the Sun Belt Conference in total offense and broke nine school records. While the team did graduate four of its five starting offensive linemen on last year's team, it can look to Tom Castilaw to anchor its line.
SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: ASU?returns seven starters on defense, including four of its top six tacklers, all seven players that accounted for 17.5 of its 27 sacks and five more that recorded eight of its 11 interceptions. Not included in that group is corner Darron?Edwards, who led ASU?last season with 10 pass breakups.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We'll have a ball circuit drill every day this week just to make sure we're putting emphasis on it. We do it pretty often, and are always talking about it, but we're going to pay even more attention to it and try to make sure we're protecting the football at all times. Turnovers are huge in any game. We were minus-2 last Saturday and it showed in the score." -- ASU head coach Hugh Freeze.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEKS GAME: Arkansas State vs. Memphis, Sept. 10 -- While the Red Wolves' 2011 game against Memphis will conclude a four-year home-and-home series, a new two-year home-and-home series with the Tigers guarantees that ASU's oldest rivalry game will continue through at least 2013.
KEYS TO THE GAME: Arkansas State must continue to find a way to protect quarterback Ryan Aplin as the Red Wolves started four new offensive lineman on the road at Illinois last week. The line must also do a better job in the running game after managing only 60 yards on 32 carries last week for an average of 1.9 yards per carry, led by freshman Frankie Jacksons 39 yards on 11 carries.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
QB Ryan Aplin -- Junior quarterback Ryan Aplin continued to climb the ASU career record books, jumping one place in three different statistical categories during last week's game against Illinois. Aplin took over fourth place for completions (349), sixth place for total offense (4,859) and seventh place for passing yards (4,118). Aplin passed for at least 200 yards for the 11th time of his career last game with 290 yards to his credit; all 11 such games have come over his last 15 played. ?He also recorded over 300 yards of total offense for the sixth time of his career, finish the Illinois game with 301 yards.
P Neely Sullivent -- Senior punter booted a career-long 67-yard punt last week against Illinois, which was the longest for ASU since 1998 when Ryan Smith recorded a 69-yard punt against Ole Miss. Sullivent finished the game with two punts for 114 yards to give him a career-best 57.0-yard average, which was also the best in the Sun Belt for week one. If the trend continues this week ASU, could win the field-position battle.
DE Justin Robertson -- Robertson posted a career-high eight tackles (previous best was five) against Illinois, and also posted one tackle for loss to match his career high in what could have been a breakout game for the senior.
RB Sirgregory Thornton left the game against Illinois after starting and rushing for minus-4 yards on the first play with a calf strain. Thornton isn't expected to miss any time but the coaching staff said they didn't want him to further aggravate the injury.