Aided by the lack of turnovers, Arkansas State was 6th nationally in effective points per possession (EP3; 18th after adjusting for schedule). They were also one of six teams to average more than 40 yards per possession; they were 12th in points per possession but would have been top five with decent average starting field position.
Aplin was good. He completed 68% of his attempts and threw interceptions on only 1.2% of passes, and averaged just under 8 yards per pass. Despite this, Arkansas State was only 33rd in EPA/pass, suggesting that he under-performed in high leverage situations. The opposite was true of the running game. Aplin against contributed to his team's offensive success, but Rocky Hayes was particularly impressive: 481 yards on 50 carries.
One interesting note on Gus Malzahn: despite his showdown against Bielema over hurry-up offenses, Arkansas State was 106th nationally in possessions per game. Another interesting note: He's now the coach at Auburn. One more interesting note: Ryan Aplin is a Brown (last I heard). Bryan Harsin seems to be a capable offensive mind, and Texas had streaky success in 2012, but he has also led some tire-fire offenses in his career. The bad news for Arkansas State is that if Harsin is successful in 2013, he'll be headed off to Vanderbilt to replace James Franklin as he moves to take over from Mack Brown. Also possible is that, after a season with Aplin, someone from the Brown's staff will take over an SEC job for 2014.
Unfortunately, I don't see a lot to be optimistic about in 2013. If Oku becomes the feature of the offense, Arkansas State will take a big step back; he was 67th nationally among backs in rushing efficiency. The defense was average in 2012 and won't be good enough to carry the team in 2013. A program like Arkansas State can only weather so much turnover.