Arkansas State returns to Little Rock seeking attendance, victory lift

Updated: October 3, 2003, 7:00 AM ET

LITTLE ROCK -- Arkansas State makes its only October appearance in the state against Louisiana-Monroe this Saturday at Little Rock's War Memorial Stadium.

Coach Steve Roberts' team won't play another home game in Jonesboro until Nov. 8. By then, it will be eight weeks since Arkansas State beat Southeast Missouri State in its last game on campus.

In the two weeks since that victory, Arkansas State (2-3, 0-1 Sun Belt Conference) has stumbled in losses at Tulsa, which counted in league standings, and at Memphis.

"What we have to do is continue to build our program in a positive manner by correcting the mistakes we make and making sure we're building on the positives," Roberts said Thursday.

Arkansas State will try to correct those mistakes Saturday against a Louisiana-Monroe team still seeking its first win under new coach Charlie Weatherbie.

ULM (0-5, 0-1) has lost twice to Southeastern Conference teams -- LSU and Ole Miss -- and twice to Division I-AA Southland Conference teams -- Stephen F. Austin and Northwestern State. ULM lost its conference opener to Utah State, 28-10, last week.

"This team has not played, I don't believe, up to its potential yet, up to its ability," said Weatherbie, who had a 45-64 record in 10 years at Navy and Utah State. "We're waiting for that game where we can explode on somebody and have a great ballgame."

This will be Arkansas State's second season to play a home game at War Memorial. Arkansas State played poorly in a 33-14 loss last year against San Jose State, which is coached by Fitz Hill, Roberts' college teammate.

Arkansas State wants to play a yearly game in Little Rock to help boost its attendance figures and build a fan base in central Arkansas. Athletic director Dean Lee said the university would like to draw a crowd of 30,000, which would set a school record.

The Indians had 41,682 attend two home games against I-AA foes Tennessee-Martin and Southeast Missouri State and they only need a total of 75,000 to meet an NCAA-mandated 15,000 average to remain at Division I school.

On the field, Arkansas State has improvements to make on both sides of the ball after being outscored 92-23 the last two weeks.

The defense allowed both Tulsa and Memphis to gain more than 400 yards, while the offense has turned the ball over seven times and converted just five of 27 third downs.

"This game is a huge ballgame for us," said Roberts, who is 8-10 at Arkansas State. "It's very important for us because it's a home game and it's also important for us because it's conference game. We're not in the win column in the conference. The stage we are in our program, we have to have that sense of urgency every week to have an opportunity to win."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index