Before Arkansas State opened preseason practice, Ryan Aplin and Phillip Butterfield appeared almost even in the competition to be the Red Wolves' starting quarterback.
Now, barring injury, there is no question who the premier signal-caller at ASU is.
Aplin has been named Sun Belt Conference Offensive Player of the Week three times now, counting his recent honor after completing a school-record 33 passes in the 36-34 loss at Indiana.
Aplin has thrown for 200 or more yards six times in Arkansas State's first seven games this season. He accounted for a career-high four touchdowns, two rushing and two passing, and currently leads the Sun Belt in total offense, and ranks second in passing offense and pass efficiency.
Along the way, Aplin is fast climbing the career leader list at Arkansas State. He already has thrown for 12 touchdowns, tying for 10th in single-season history at ASU. His six rushing touchdowns mark the most by an Arkansas State quarterback since the 2002 campaign.
The only black mark on Aplin's record has been interceptions. He threw a pair of picks against the Hoosiers and has had six interceptions, including four in ASU's past three games.
"He played extremely well at times. We missed some opportunities that could have possibly won the game for us, not only at quarterback but every other position on the field," Red Wolves coach Steve Roberts said. "There were a couple of key plays, a third-down conversion here or there that could have kept drives alive and got us better field position, but you get the same thing from Ryan every week. He's going to compete every single snap."
• QB Ryan Aplin completed passes to nine different receivers against Indiana, tying a single-game high.
• Punter Neely Sullivent had a career-best 47.2 yard average in the loss to the Hoosiers, including two punts of at least 50 yards and a career-long 61-yarder.
• Arkansas State is beginning a three-game home-stand, its longest since the 2008 campaign.
Series History: Florida Atlantic leads Arkansas State 3-2 (last meeting, 2009, 35-18, Florida Atlantic).
Scouting The Offense: QB Ryan Aplin and WR Dwayne Frampton worked overtime leading into the Indiana game. They put in extra time after every practice to get their rhythm back, and the results led Aplin to set a single-game team record for completions (33), and Frampton to set a single-game team record for receptions with his 12 grabs.
Scouting The Defense: Arkansas State had its best effort of the season against the run, limiting Indiana to 113 net yards rushing. The Red Wolves still rank among the most generous defensive teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision, with their 472 yards per game allowed ranking 119th among 120 squads.
Quote To Note: "We're really close to flipping that record, but that doesn't count. We have to make the critical plays at critical times in order to have an opportunity to win. I do think we're an improved team over last year."-Coach Steve Roberts, on Arkansas State's 2-5 record
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAME: Florida Atlantic at Arkansas State, Oct. 23-Winning the Sun Belt Conference is still an outside possibility for the Red Wolves (2-5), but their primary focus should be on finishing the season strong. This opens a three-game home-stand, and ASU should be favored in two of its final five games and also should have a puncher's chance against Navy, Florida International and Middle Tennessee.
Keys To The Game: Keep the faith. Arkansas State came very close to upending Indiana on the Hoosiers' home field, which would have been a season-making victory for the Red Wolves and spoiled Indiana's homecoming. A team can either build off that near-miss or let that spark a funk that sticks with a program for multiple weeks. It will be interesting to see which direction the Red Wolves go.
Players To Watch:
CB Darron Edwards-He broke up a career-high four passes against Indiana, but also bit on a play fake and got beat on a huge fourth-quarter touchdown by the Hoosiers. Edwards needs to have a short memory and get back to business.
WR Dwayne Frampton-The junior-college transfer had been held to seven catches for 80 yards in the three games that preceded his 12-catch effort against Indiana. There's no doubt Frampton is the top target for QB Ryan Aplin, and that Arkansas State clicks best on offense when those two are on the same page.
KR Rod Hall -The junior wide receiver racked up a career-high 158 return yards against the Hoosiers. Big plays in the kicking game could make a major difference as ASU tries to improve its win total.
• LB Demario Davis and DE Jeremy Gibson each tallied their first sack of the season in the 36-34 loss to Indiana.
• Punter Neely Sullivent earned honorable mention punter of the week notice from the College Football Performance Awards.