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      Sully Says: The "Gus Bus" hits high gear

      If at anytime you start to doubt Gus Malzahn, just remember what he did as a rookie High School head coach back in 1994. He took a tiny "basketball " school with no football tradition to the state title game. Hughes almost shocked the state. {}They lost to Lonoke 17-13 in the AAA Title game. {}

      The stage couldn't have been any bigger last night. {}The crowd wasn't the biggest in ASU history, but more than one longtime ASU fan told me that it was the best atmosphere they've ever experienced watching a game in Jonesboro. {}Throw in the ESPN U audience and more instate media attention than ASU is used to seeing and you have a great opportunity.{}

      The reviews poured in all night . Following a late ASU touchdown, a proud ASU alum, KATV's Beth Hunt, tweeted " Boom !!! Malzahn is so good. Awesome play design". {}Then there was this simple text from another media friend " Gus rocks".{}

      Gus + Rhett Lashlee + Ryan Aplin = sleepless nights for Sun Belt defensive coordinators.

      I hate to steal a line from Gus, but I will. {}All three have one thing in common. {}They all have the "it" factor. The " it " factor play on Thursday came early in the third quarter with the game tied at 17. {} Aplin tucked the ball and headed for the corner. {}He had all 11 Warhawk defenders thinking run. {}What happened next was pure genius. {}The best player in the Sun Belt Conference put the brakes on, went airborne, and delivered a jump pass to a wide open Taylor Stockemer. 70 yards later, Stockemer was in the endzone, and ULM was crying foul. {}The replay showed that Aplin released the ball just in time.

      It was Gus ball at it's best on Thursday. {}Big plays. {}Runs : Aplin, 38 yards, and Oku ( a stud) ,21 yards. {}Passes: Stockemer, 70 yards, and Julian Jones (Mr. Big Play), 46 yards. Then there's the meat of the offense. {} The screens and the inside runs. David Oku and JD Mckissic combined for 34 touches and 233 yards. They have both become consistent ,fast and physical finishers . The Red Wolves have now scored at least 34 points in five straight games.

      Another encouraging sign for ASU fans. {}John Thompson's young defense. I think most fans were expecting 35-34, 42-41 shootouts this season. {}That hasn't happened . {}The Red Wolf defense has yet to allow 30 points in a conference game. {}They are ranked second in the Sun Belt in the two most important categories, scoring defense and total defense.{}

      His first season isn't over, but Gus has already sealed the deal on an ASU first . {}Win number 7 of the season gives ASU back to back winning seasons for the first time since making the jump back to Division One A ball. {}Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays have never been so much fun for ASU fans.

      I'll be honest with you. {}I didn't think Gus would have this kind of success in year one, not with just 10 returning starters. I made a big mistake. I forgot about Hughes.