Jonesboro, AR (SportsNetwork.com) - With first place in the Sun Belt
Conference on the line, the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns and the Arkansas State Red
Wolves will duke it out on Tuesday night at Liberty Bank Stadium.
Since opening the season with a pair of tough road losses to Arkansas (34-14)
and Kansas State (48-27), Louisiana has ripped off four straight wins to climb
to 4-2. The Cajuns have begun Sun Belt play with back-to-back triumphs, taking
down Texas State on Oct. 5 (48-24), and most recently earning a 37-20 road
victory over Western Kentucky on Oct. 15.
Arkansas State, the two-time reigning Sun Belt Conference champions, have
started the 2013 season rather modestly at 3-3, although it is fresh off a win
in its latest bout, defeating Idaho at home on Oct. 12, 48-24. The Red Wolves
have only played one league contest this season, beating Troy in a 41-34 final
back on Sept. 12.
This rivalry has been very close over the years, with Louisiana clinging to a
21-19-1 advantage. Arkansas State got the better of the Cajuns last October,
winning 50-27 in Lafayette.
Louisiana's offense averages 440.0 ypg, and while that has the team ranked
fifth in the Sun Belt, its ranks first in scoring at 38.5 ppg, thanks in large
part to an outstanding 50 percent conversion rate on third down. The unit has
also committed only seven turnovers.
The keys to the offense are in Terrance Broadway's possession. The quarterback
has completed 63.6 percent of his passes for 1,243 yards with 11 touchdowns
and four interceptions, while also making his mark in the rushing attack (194
yards, five TDs). Despite the impressive win over Western Kentucky last week,
Broadway had his worst passing performance of the season, going just 5-of-12
for 90 yards.
Alonzo Harris is the team's primary tailback, churning out 444 yards and five
touchdowns on 77 carries. Elijah McGuire is also actively involved with 315
yards (on 7.7 ypg) and four touchdowns.
Jamal Robinson is Broadway's most trusted receiver, as he's hauled in 26 balls
for 436 yards and six touchdowns. Darryl Surgent has also been effective out
wide with 17 receptions for 186 yards and two scores.
Defensively, the Cajuns have not played especially well, allowing 27.2 ppg,
but that's good enough to rank them third in the Sun Belt. The unit has also
been active in the turnover battle with 16 takeaways.
Al Riles returned an interception 99 yards for a touchdown in the win over
WKU, and has also tallied a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries this
season. Justin Anderson makes plays all over the field with 67 tackles, 5.5
TFL, an interception, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries, while
T.J. Worthy has picked off a pair of passes.
After combining for just 26 points in its previous two losses, Arkansas State
exploded for 48 points in its most recent win over Idaho. On the season, the
offense has been generally impressive with averages of 31.0 ppg and 481.3 ypg.
First-year starting quarterback Adam Kennedy has been solid, if unspectacular,
this season. His completion percentage is outstanding (.680) and he throws for
262.3 ypg, but that production has only resulted in seven touchdowns paired
with three interceptions.
The Red Wolves rely heavily on the rushing attack, with more than 55 percent
of their plays coming on the ground. David Oku is the most utilized player out
of the backfield with 396 yards and five touchdowns on 101 attempts. Michael
Gordon has seen only 21 carries this season but many of them have resulted in
big plays, as he has amassed 226 yards and three touchdowns.
Julian Jones ranks third in the league in both receptions (37) and yards (469)
while scoring three touchdowns. J.D. McKissic has been a strong complement to
Jones with 35 catches, 308 yards and two scores.
Arkansas State could stand to drastically improve its defense if it wants to
contend for another conference title. The unit allows nearly 30 ppg and 440.2
Qushaun Lee is the team-leader in tackles with 54, adding a pair of forced
fumbles for good measure. Rocky Hayes has two interceptions and six pass
break-ups to spearhead the secondary, while Ryan Carrethers has 38 stops, 5.0
TFL and 3.5 sacks.
The Sports Network