||ARKANSAS STATE at AUBURN
6 p.m. CT
Pat Dye Field/Jordan-Hare Stadium (87,451)
|LIVE TV: FSN
[Bob Rathbun, play-by-play; Tim Couch, analyst; Jen Hildreth, sidelines]
Steve Roberts is in his ninth season at Arkansas State with a record of 41-55 (.427) and 17th overall with a record of 90-88-1 (.506). The Red Wolves' offensive coordinator is Hugh Freeze and the defensive coordinator is Kevin Corless .
Gene Chizik is in his second season at Auburn with a record of 8-5 (.615) and in his fourth season overall with a record of 13-24 (.351). The Tigers' offensive coordinator is Gus Malzahn and the defensive coordinator is Ted Roof.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN ARKANSAS STATE HAS THE BALL
Ryan Aplin, who set the ASU single-season record for highest completion percentage, played in nine games last season, including three of the last four as a starter. He led A-State to victories in its last two games and set a school record with the most total yards of offense ever by a freshman during the North Texas game. Derek Lawson recorded close to 1,000 yards in his first two seasons in a back-up role and could fill the starting position nicely. Statistically, the Red Wolves lost their top three players at wide receiver.
Senior LB Josh Bynes led Auburn and was seventh in the SEC with 104 total tackles in 2009, 61 of which were solo. He registered a season-best 12 tackles and an interception versus West Virginia. Antoine Carter and Michael Goggans will take over as the primary pass rushers to replace the departed Antonio Coleman. Zac Etheridge has been given medical clearance in the secondary after suffering a neck injury last season.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN AUBURN HAS THE BALL
Led by marquee players like Bryan Hall and Dorvus Woods, ASU has a great amount of depth along the defensive line. A-State brings back all but one player at the linebacker position, including its top three producers in Demario Davis, Javon McKinnon and Nathan Herrold. ASU lost both its starting corners, but brings back every player at safety. Junior Kelcie McCray, who recorded a team-high four interceptions last year, and M.D. Jennings, who was the team's second leading tackler, are all-conference candidates at the position.
Highly touted JUCO transfer Cam Newton is set to take over as Auburn's quarterback in 2010. Senior RB Mario Fannin ranked third on the team with 990 all-purpose yards last season. He was second on the team in receptions (42) and third in rushing yards (285). Michael Dyer, one of the nation's top recruits a year ago, will look to see action on the backfield. Senior OT Lee Ziemba has started every game (38 starts) since his first game as a true freshman. Darvin Adams and Terrell Zachery highlight the wide receiver group.
Brandon Thompkins and Josh Arauco ended their careers last season as A-State's all-time leaders in kickoff return yards and points by kicking, respectively. ASU also said goodbye to its kickoff specialist and punter, as well as its leading punt return man. Those departures leave the door open for a large number of players that could fill those roles. Neely Sullivent handled first-team punting duties and spring, but the Red Wolves signed a pair of highly touted kickers in its latest recruiting class that will compete for kicking honors.
Wes Byrum was 15-16 on field goals and hit all 54 PAT attempts last season. He was second in the SEC in field goal percentage kicks over 40 yards (83.3%/5 of 6). He led all SEC kickers in field goal percentage (93.8).
Record: AU, 1-0
Auburn begins year two of the Gene Chizik era with a renewed feeling excitement in the football program. Gus Malzahn's offense put up huge numbers in 2009, as the Tigers improved by three wins over its 2008 season and won the Outback Bowl over Northwesten in overtime. Former JUCO national-champion quarterback (and former backup to Tim Tebow at Florida) Cam Newton takes over as the Auburn QB in 2010.