ASU defense a main reason for success

There is no doubt that this is a better Arkansas State Football team than in years past. One of the main reasons for the quick transformation is the play of the Red Wolves defense. Veteran defensive coordinator Dave Wommack has been a difference maker for ASU.

It's an old saying that defense wins championships.

Arkansas State first year Head Coach Hugh Freeze is counting on it. Freeze is known as an offensive genius, one of his first task at hand when he was hired was to find a defensive coordinator that he could trust and rely on to handle all aspects of the Red Wolves defensive unit.

Freeze found his man in veteran DC Dave Wommack, who spent time at Southern Mississippi, South Carolina and most recently at Georgia Tech before spending a couple of seasons relaxing with family.

"Hiring Dave was a big home run for our program," Freeze said in an earlier interview. "He is a veteran defensive coordinator, someone I can just hand over the defense to and feel confident he is going to do great things for our program."

Great things indeed.

After week six, Arkansas State is No. 1 in scoring defense, No. 1 in total defense, No. 3 in rushing defense, and No. 1 pass defense.

This is a stark contrast compared to last year's defensive unit for Arkansas State under Coach Steve Roberts.

It's obvious that one of the main reasons that the Red Wolves are currently 4-2 and 2-0 in conference play is due to the play of Wommack's defense.

"He never gets rattled," senior linebacker DeMario Davis. "He is a proven winner, he doesn't panic when the bullets start flying."

Against Louisiana Monroe Saturday night the offense was struggling. The Warhawks led 13-10 at the half.

It took a great special team's play by safety Don Jones to shift the momentum in the third quarter.

Jones came off the left edge and blocked a ULM punt and after a bobble by another Red Wolf, Jones scooped and scored giving ASU it's first touchdown on a block punt since the year 2000.

Wommack's defense appears to play better football in the second half of play, with a big reason for this is his staff's halftime adjustments. He dialed up some extra pressure, sacking ULM's quarterbacks three times. Arkansas State is No. 3 in the Sun Belt in sacks with 13 on the year.

A big interception by Kelcie McCray and a 51 yard return on the play helped preserve the victory.

Arkansas State scored on a 44 yard pass from Ryan Aplin to Dwayne Frampton set up by McCray's defensive play.

The Red Wolves now find themselves undefeated in Sun Belt action and 4-2 overall at the half way mark of the season.

"It's big to get two wins on the road and return back home with four of our final six games in Jonesboro," Freeze said. "This is a solid conference, it's big for us to win back to back conference games, the first time since 1986." Freeze was pleased with picking up the win despite not having a great offensive night.

"Our defense did a tremendous job keeping us in the game, giving us the opportunity to win the game," Freeze said. "To get the win on the road, knowing we didn't play our best football allows us to continue to get better. They found a way to win, and made the plays when they had to secure the win."

Arkansas State will now have 10 days to prepare for their home game against Florida International, a nationally televised ESPN 2 game.