AStateNation's Sunday Practice Report

Arkansas State returned to the practice field Sunday evening coming off Saturday's 56-0 win over Alcorn State. AStateNation was there to get player's reactions about the win over the Braves and how big Saturday's game will be against Western Kentucky.

No one expected last year's Sun Belt opener between Western Kentucky and Arkansas State to be the game that decided the conference championship.

No one ever dreamed it could be.

Arkansas State rallied to win the waining minutes of the game, for what many call ASU's defining turning point of the season.

Willie Taggert's Hilltoppers went on to go undefeated in conference play, in fact his teams only losses came to No. 1 LSU last season to No. 1 Alabama this season.

To say Saturday's conference opener at Liberty Bank Stadium is going to be key in this year's Sun Belt Championship race, isn't going to surprise anyone.

This is by far the biggest game of the year for Arkansas State, a game that will give the winner an advantage moving forward in conference play.

AStateNation.com got to visit with veteran Arkansas State Coach David Gunn after practice Sunday evening in Jonesboro to get his take on the upcoming matchup.

"Crazy is the best way to describe this conference this fall," Gunn said. "Anything can happen on any given Saturday in this league, you have to bring your A game every week. Certainly on how they are playing and how we feel like we are playing and getting better, that it should be a great game."?

Gunn talks about the importance of getting off to a good start against Western Kentucky.

"It's important for our football team to get off to a great start against them," Gunn said. "It would be nice to get off to a 1-0 start in conference play, it would be a good position to be in after week one."

WKU TO CHALLENGE ASU SECONDARY

With the return and improvement of senior quarterback Kawaun Jakes, Gunn realizes the importance of his secondary playing well Saturday against the Hilltoppers. Jakes has emerged to be a passing threat this season to add to his ability of being a big time runner.

"The first thing we have to be concerned with in the secondary, we can't let anyone get behind us," Gunn said. "We have focus on the thing things we can control. We have to be fundamentally sound, we have to be in great position to defend their passing game."

STUDENT OF THE GAME

Rod Smith led all rusher for Arkansas State Saturday night against Alcorn State with 104 yards on 13 carries. Smith visited with the media after Sunday practice and gave former Tennessee transfer David Oku a lot of credit for helping out the younger players at the position.

"David has a lot of upside to him," Smith said. "He knows a lot of things that we may not know or what we may be still learning. He brings a lot, he has helped me out a lot."

According to Smith, the ASU coaches are already stressing the importance of this weeks Western Kentucky game.

"They are saying this is where the conference championship race begins," Smith said. "They are telling us it can be the turning point of our season, like it was last year."

TRUE FRESHMAN GETS FIRST CARRY

Michael Gordon got his first start last week on special teams against Nebraska. He got his first carry as a D1 college running back Saturday night against Alcorn State, gaining 12 yards on the carry.

Gordon visited with AStateNation Sunday after practice.

"We came out, picked it up and played up to our standards, not their standards," Gordon said. He talked about his first carry. "It felt good, I had to read my blocks, I was a little nervous, wasn't sure about my first college experience."