Another new coach
For the third time in three games, Nebraska is facing a team with a new head coach. Gus Malzahn spent the past three seasons as offensive coordinator at Auburn, where he coached Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Cam Newton and helped the Tigers to their first national championship since 1957. Malzahn, a famed high school coach in Arkansas, cracked the college coaching ranks at Arkansas and also spent two seasons at Tulsa.
Arkansas State’s top running back has Nebraska ties. Well, sort of. David Oku spent a couple of hours -- OK, it was slightly longer than that -- in Lincoln in early 2009, when he was the nation’s No. 1 all-purpose back recruit, as determined by Rivals.com. Oku moved to Lincoln to be with his girlfriend and attended Lincoln East for a short time, leading some to believe he might end up at Nebraska. He didn’t. Oku signed with Tennessee, ran for 286 yards over two seasons, and transferred to Arkansas State. He ran for 111 yards last week against Memphis.
Time for an upgrade
Arkansas State recently announced a $22 million football facility project, including a two-level football operations building and a 76,000-square-foot indoor practice facility at the north end zone of the school's stadium.
RED WOLVES ON OFFENSE
The centerpiece of Arkansas State’s offense is senior quarterback Ryan Aplin, a three-year starter who’s amassed 9,450 total yards in his career -- the most in school history.
He’s completing 60 percent of his passes and has thrown for more than 200 yards 24 times in his career. But he’s not a statue in the pocket. The Sporting News last season named Aplin the best running quarterback in the Sun Belt Conference, and Aplin has 21 rushing touchdowns over the last two seasons. He’s already rushed for 110 yards in two games.
Aplin has enjoyed great protection up front, too. Through two games and 88 passing attempts, he’s not been sacked.
The Red Wolves’ leading rusher is Oku, who’s rushed 37 times for 192 yards. His longest run is 18 yards.
Former Oklahoma signee Josh Jarboe averaged 16.8 yards per catch last week against Memphis.
Arkansas State had 619 yards of total offense against Memphis, its highest total against an FBS team in five years.
RED WOLVES ON DEFENSE
Consider Arkansas State’s defensive numbers a bit skewed. After all, the Red Wolves began the season playing at Oregon, a team that would inflate anyone’s defensive averages through only two games. To wit: The Ducks had 50 points in the first half.
Last week’s opponent was a different story. Arkansas State held Memphis to 293 yards of total offense, the fewest by an Red Wolves foe since Florida Atlantic had 281 yards last season.
Against Memphis, defensive lineman Ryan Carrethers recorded a career-high 10 tackles and safety Cole Lorigan had a career-high eight against Memphis. Senior defensive end Tim Starson contributed with two tackles for loss, also a career high.
RED WOLVES ON SPECIAL TEAMS
Junior kicker Brian Davis has made 28 field goals in his career, including two last week (on three attempts) against Memphis. He’s made six field goals this season, with his longest 43 yards.
Oku has four kickoff returns for 71 yards through two games. He led Tennessee in kickoff returns as a freshman and sophomore, and ranked fourth nationally among major-college freshmen with 26.2 yards per return in 2009.
Punter Neely Sullivent has a 38.4-yard average, including a long punt of 58 yards, and has also had a punt blocked.