Around this time last year I was nervous and excited as I could be to begin writing for Arkansas Fight (then Arkansas Expats). And just the thought of beginning another monthly schedule preview series makes me think back to last August when I first began writing for the site. I can't believe it's already been a year since I started writing here, and I can't wait to get going this year.
Much like last year, I will break down Arkansas' schedule by the month and (hopefully) give you a better glimpse into what to expect and see out of the Razorbacks' opponents this season. Alright, let's do it.
Game #1: Arkansas at Auburn - August 30
Things to know:
– QB Nick Marshall and DB Jonathon Mincy will not start the season opener, but WILL play in the game. The length of the suspensions is unknown at this point (Ed. note: oh, Gus, you devil!).
– Gus Malzahn and his Tigers are the defending national runners-up, falling just short to Florida State in last year's national championship game.
– Malzahn and Bielema are not breaking bread nor throwing rocks at one another.
– Lost RB Tre Mason, DE Dee Ford and OL Greg Robinson to NFL Draft.
QB Nick Marshall - Marshall is a preseason first team All-SEC selection by the league media. He was cited for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana the Friday before SEC Media Days, leading to his suspension. Marshall threw for 1,976 yards and 14 touchdowns while also running for 1,068 yards and 12 scores in 2013.
WR Sammie Coates - Coates is a preseason first team All-SEC selection by the league media, Phil Steele, Sporting News and Lindy's. He has also been named to the Maxwell and Biletnikoff Award watch lists. Coates averaged 54 yards per TD catch, and 21.5 yards per catch (3rd in nation) last season. Fox Sports' Bruce Feldman named the receiver the top "freak" athlete in college football.
DB Jonathon Mincy - The defensive back was named a preseason 2nd team All-SEC pick by Phil Steele and CFB Matrix, and a third team selection by the league media and Lindy's, and a fourth team pick by Athlon. Mincy is a three-year starter who racked up 56 tackles a season ago. He will serve a suspension during the season opener vs Arkansas for a 2nd degree possession of marijuana charge.
RB Corey Grant - The senior back is a preseason third third team All-SEC pick by the league media, and is expected to pick up a lot of the slack left by Tre Mason. Grant averaged 9.8 yards per carry last season in a limited role. The senior may not have his mind completely focused this season as he is working on his degree in PE and minor in coaching.
Game #2: Arkansas vs Nicholls State - September 6
Things to know:
– Nicholls State will play three Arkansas schools the first five weeks of the season – Arkansas week 2, Henderson State week 3, and Central Arkansas week 5 to open Southland action.
– Open their schedule vs Air Force and the Razorbacks.
– Finished 4-8 (1-6 Southland) in 2013, including a 66-3 loss at Oregon and 70-7 loss to Louisiana-Lafayette.
– Lose top all-purpose yards leader and top tackler from 2013. 12 NSU WRs totaled more than 100+ yards last season.
David Bowie Davin Bovie - Bovie finished second on the team with 78 tackles last season despite missing the last four games with injury. He recorded 21 tackles vs Stephen F. Austin, 10+ tackles three times, and averaged 12 tackles per game in Southland play. Bovie is a preseason second team All-Southland selection.
DB Byron Cobb - Like Bovie, Cobb is also a preseason second team All-Southland pick after racking up 59 tackles in 2013. Cobb also plays baseball for Nicholls State. He received a medical redshirt in 2013, but hit 3-for-7 with a double, two runs batted in, and seven runs in 2012.
QB Tuskani Figaro - Named to the preseason Southland Conference All-Name team. Figaro passed for 1,135 yards and 8 touchdowns while running for 1,103 and 7 scores last season. He started eight games while playing in 11 in 2013.
Game #3: Arkansas at Texas Tech - September 13
Things to know:
– Head coach Kliff Kingsbury has an 8-pack.
– Arkansas leads all-time series 28-7, but TTU has won the last two meetings. It will be the first meeting since 1991.
– Texas Tech is projected to finish seventh in the Big 12 by Athlon, and sixth by ESPN.
– Lose star and 2013 leading receiver Jace Amaro to NFL.
QB Davis Webb - The Red Raider signal caller has been named to the Maxwell and Davey O'Brien Award watch lists. Webb broke seven freshman Big 12 records in 2013 after passing for 2,718 yards and 20 scores. He was also a freshman All-American honorable mention.
RB Kenny Williams - Led the Red Raiders in rushing at THIRTY EIGHT YARDS PER GAME in 2013. Williams caught 30 passes and scored nine total touchdowns last season.
LB Sam Equavoen - The linebacker is the team's top returning tackler from last season (70), and tallied 6.5 tackles for loss. He is also an art major.
Game #4: Arkansas vs Northern Illinois - September 20
Things to know:
– Lost QB Jordan Lynch, DT Ken Bishop and DB Jimmie Ward to NFL.
– Finished 12-2 in 2013 (8-0 MAC), but lost last two games.
– Been to four consecutive MAC title games.
– Predicted to finish second in MAC's West division by Athlon, third by Hustle Belt.
RB Cameron Stingily - The tailback ran for 266 yards and a pair of scores vs Kent State last season, the most from a Husky RB since 2006. Stingily rushed for a total of 1,119 yards and nine scores in 2013. He has also been named to the Doak Walker Award watch list. 203/204 career carries came last season. UPDATE: It was announced Tuesday he may miss the game with an injury.
LB Jamaal Bass - Bass is a preseason first team All-MAC selection and is the team's returning tackler (87). He tallied six tackles for loss and also forced two fumbles last season.
LB Boomer Mays - A first team MAC All-Name team selection, and the second leading returning tackler (82). Mays racked up 5.5 tackles for loss, picked up a pair of sacks and intercepted a pass last season.
Game #5: Arkansas vs Texas A&M - September 27 (Jerry World)
Things to know:
– Lost JFF, Mike Evans and Jake Matthews to NFL Draft.
– The Aggies have a punter who thinks he's better than Sam Irwin-Hill in Drew Kaser.
– Bring in the #4 recruiting class of 2014, and own one of the top offensive lines in the SEC.
RB Trey Williams - Williams rushed for 409 yards and six scores in 2013 while also serving as a dangerous return man on special teams. He has also been named to the Doak Walker Award watch list.
WR Malcome Kennedy - The senior is the team's leading returning receiver after reeling in 60 passes for 658 yards and seven scores last season. He will be counted on to lead a young group of receivers. Kennedy will likely be the #1 WR following Mike Evans' departure.
P Drew Kaser - Kaser, one of the SEC's top punters believes he is better than Arkansas' Sam Irwin-Hill. Kaser punted for 2,085 yards last season, an average of 47 yards per. Kaser had a long of 76, but also booted punts of 69, 64, and 58 twice. But Sam Iwrin-Hill kicked one 85 yards in the spring game so Kaser's case is invalid.
After breaking down the Razorbacks August/September schedule, I have Arkansas heading into October with a 3-2 record.
Wins: Nicholls State, Northern Illinois, Texas A&M
Losses: at Auburn, at Texas Tech