JONESBORO — Arkansas State has yet to play even close on the road this season, much less win.
First-year ASU coach Bryan Harsin and the Red Wolves are still looking for their first victory outside their own home stadium in 2013. So with a road trip scheduled this weekend to Southeastern Conference member Missouri, Harsin believes the Red Wolves will need to do a few things differently in order to return home with a win.
Several changes to ASU’s routine will be implemented as the Red Wolves prepare for the unbeaten Tigers. They meet Saturday in Columbia, Mo., at 6:30 p.m. at Memorial Stadium.
“The key that I look at for our team right now is getting the chance to go out there and win on the road,” Harsin said Monday. “That was our second game that we had against Memphis and this is our third road game. We’ll do some things differently in practice leading up to it, change things up. This is the time to do it, but we’ve got to do some things a little bit different leading into this game.”
In winning back-to-back Sun Belt Conference championships the past two years, Arkansas State amassed its most impressive won-loss records since moving to Division I FBS. ASU was 20-6 the last two seasons, including a 10-win regular season in 2011.
The same holds true for Arkansas State’s record away from home, where it had improved tremendously over previous coaching staffs. ASU was 4-2 on the road each of the last two seasons with its only losses coming against automatic qualifier conference members Oregon, Nebraska, Virginia Tech and Illinois.
But after a 31-7 loss to rival Memphis last Saturday at the Liberty Bowl, Arkansas State’s new football coach wants to tinker with a few things to make sure the Red Wolves are in the right frame of mind at Missouri.
Arkansas State (2-2) has lost its only two road games this year — at Auburn and Memphis — by a combined 69-16 score.
The lack of production away from home concerns Harsin. He won’t make wholesale changes to how the Red Wolves prepare for Missouri, but he will do some things to get their attention.
“Nothing drastic, nothing major, but just a little bit — practice, changing up a little bit,” Harsin said. “(We’ll have) some competitive periods in there, maybe move periods around from where individuals have them. Regardless of how the game turned out, now is the time to have a little bit of that, too, … You’ve got change the routine because I think that’s important. It adds a little bit different flavor to what we’re doing this week in practice.”
Arkansas State surrendered 505 yards offense, including 329 rushing, in a 31-7 loss to Memphis on Saturday.
It was the third straight game the Red Wolves struggled defensively after allowing 614 yards to Troy the previous week. ASU has allowed 1,587 yards the last three weeks, and ranks 96th in the nation in yards allowed.
Harsin doesn’t plan on making personnel changes on the defensive side of the ball. But he wouldn’t rule out the possibility of a few changes, either.
“We’re going to compete now, and I’m talk about competing in practice,” Harsin said. “There’s quite a few positions that will be competing and really need to be competing. Nothing on our football team are you going to sit there and say is set in stone each and every week, and that’s really how it should be.”
Arkansas State went into the Memphis contest with one of the nation’s most potent offenses, averaging 544.3 yards and 7.2 yards per play.
But outside of a first-quarter touchdown drive, the Red Wolves struggled to move the football. ASU finished with 255 yards offense that included just 74 yards rushing, and didn’t threaten to score again.
Harsin said the team will have to learn from its mistakes and move forward in practice this week after making corrections on Sunday.
Harsin hopes the loss to the Tigers will get his players’ attention for Missouri. He’d like to see a little more fire from them after a slow start against Memphis.
That will be determined by how they practice this week.
“It’s always about the details,” Harsin said. “It’s always about the prep (preparation), and it’s always about the opponent you play. Every time you step on that football I think you’ve got to be — you know we talk about poised and paranoid. I think you have to be that way.”
Arkansas State (2-2) at Missouri (3-0)
• When: 6:30 p.m. Saturday
• Where: Faurot Field, Columbia, Mo.
• TV: CSS