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App State Appears on ESPN2 in Matchup of Preseason Favorites (2018-10-09 15:26:41)

JONESBORO, Ark. — The pursuit of a Sun Belt Conference title resumes with a rare Tuesday night game.

After opening league play with a late-September home win against South Alabama, East Division preseason favorite Appalachian State (3-1, 1-0) faces West Division preseason favorite Arkansas State (3-2, 0-1) at Centennial Bank Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET on ESPN2.
 
The two Sun Belt heavyweights last met in 2015, and head coach Scott Satterfield is taking, statistically, one of the nation's strongest teams to Jonesboro.
 
"We've had a good week leading up to this, and we know it's going to be a great environment and a big-time game in this conference," Satterfield said. "We're looking forward to it."
 
Ranking second nationally behind No. 1 Alabama in both points per game (51.8) and average scoring margin (34.8), App State leads its conference in six of the 10 primary offensive/defensive statistical categories. It's second in three of the other four and third in the last remaining one.
 
As the Mountaineers prepare for their first Tuesday game since 1942, they're within striking distance of earning a top-25 team ranking for the first time as an FBS program. Appalachian received a program-best 38 voting points in this week's Amway Coaches Poll, putting it unofficially at the No. 29 spot, and it tallied 11 voting points in this week's AP Top 25.
 
The Mountaineers have followed an overtime loss at No. 8 Penn State with three wins in which they outscored Charlotte, Gardner-Webb and South Alabama by a combined 169-23. Led by head coach Blake Anderson, Arkansas State is coming off a 28-21 road loss against Georgia Southern.
 
Here's a closer look at how the Mountaineers match up with the Red Wolves.
 
APP STATE'S DEFENSE VS. ARKANSAS STATE'S OFFENSE
 
By allowing single-digit points in three straight games, Appalachian State leads the Sun Belt and ranks 15th nationally in scoring defense at 17.0 points per game. The Mountaineers are No. 6 at the FBS level by allowing just 276.3 yards per game, including 104.3 on the ground and 172.0 through the air.
 
Arkansas State boasts the reigning Sun Belt Player of the Year in 6-foot-4 senior quarterback Justice Hansen and a group of receivers that Satterfield praises as one of the best from a Group of Five conference team. Warren Wand, a 5-5 senior running back, is also a dangerous threat as a runner, receiver and returner.
 
Hansen has totaled 11 touchdown passes and two interceptions while throwing for 265.8 yards per game this season. His top targets have been slot receiver Kirk Merritt (8.2 yards per catch on 29 receptions) and 6-6 senior Justin McInnis (23 catches for 233 yards). Another big receiver, 6-5 Kendrick Edwards, has two touchdown grabs, while 6-3 receivers Omar Bayless and Jonathan Adams are averaging between 16.5 and 19.6 yards per catch.
 
The Red Wolves have given up 14 sacks, six more than what App State's defense has recorded, and they rush for 175.4 yards per game.
 
When it comes to getting off the field quickly, App State's defense has recorded three-and-outs on 25 of its 53 possessions, allowing it to rank No. 2 nationally in both percentage (47.2) and three-and-outs per game (6.25).
 
"If they get hot, they can put a lot of points on the board," Satterfield said. "We have to do a great job of staying on top, not giving up the big play, chasing the ball and try to disrupt the passing game."
 
APP STATE'S OFFENSE VS. ARKANSAS STATE'S DEFENSE
 
The Mountaineers are scoring frequently with a balanced offense that is averaging 269.5 rushing yards (No. 9 nationally) and 254.0 passing yards per game. Running behind an offensive line that's also in the top 15 nationally with only five sacks allowed, senior Jalin Moore leads the way with 368 yards thanks to his 6.6 yards-per-carry average. He has totaled 242 rushing yards in four quarters of work over the last two games, with center Noah Hannon posting a high grade for his efforts against South Alabama.
 
Sophomore quarterback Zac Thomas ranks in the top 10 nationally in five passing categories, as he's averaged 263.2 yards of total offense per game with 224.0 coming via the pass. Corey SuttonThomas HenniganMalik Williams and Dominique Heath have all had a game with at least 65 receiving yards.
 
Arkansas State's defense is allowing 29.4 points and 392.4 yards per game, including 244.4 yards on the ground. The Red Wolves have recorded 14 sacks, led by 3.0 apiece from starting "Bandit" Ronheen Bingham and 338-pound nose guard Forrest Merrill. Dajon Emory, a 6-3 defensive end, and William Bradley-King, a 6-4 "Bandit," have 2.5 apiece.
 
In the secondary, starting cornerback Jerry Jacobs and free safety B.J. Edmonds have combined for three of the team's four interceptions.
 
"When we've seen them on film over the years, they've always had great athletes with guys who can run and make plays," Satterfield said. "They pride themselves on creating turnovers on defense, and last time we played them (in Boone), we did a terrible job taking care of the football. That's a big emphasis for us this week."
 



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