1. First, the Hogs are taking on Florida A&M. This probably won't be that competitive of a game, but that doesn't mean there are things to watch for. What are you going to keep an eye on this Thursday?
Derek Oxford: I'm interested to see whatcha the scheme change looks like defensively against another team. I'm also intrigued by the offensive line. Is it improved or will Austin still going to be running for his life?
Robert Boyd: I'm really going to be watching the running game on both sides of the ball. I think we can win this game based on our aerial passing attack alone, but it will be depressing if we get gashed for 6 yards per carry on a regular basis and can't get to the line of scrimmage without getting hit when we're carrying the ball.
Jamie Pilote: I want to see what the 3-4 looks like in action. Do we actually have the horses at LB to pull it off and can we get pressure on the QB from that defense. Secondly I want to see what our WR corps looks like with all of the turnover there. We know what Austin Allen brings to the table, but can these guys get open and make the big plays we need?
Adam Peterson: Can we get away from War Memorial, possibly in the rain, with an easy win and give the second and third team some playing time.
Josh Goforth: All eyes should be focused on the rotation of Jackson, Capps, Hays at Nose. The play at that position needs a close spotlight along with the middle backers behind them which they are responsible for keeping clean. The only thing I'm concerned with on the offensive side is pass protection and blitz pick up by the in experienced oline. We shouldn't see any blown assignments or missed pick ups.
Eric Harris: How well does the front seven get pressure on the QB. They obviously won't show any exotic blitzes with TCU coming but I want to see if they can help out the secondary and get to the QB.
2. As of right now, the Little Rock contract expires after next season. Which means this may be one of the last games at War Memorial. At the risk of bringing back the GSD, how do you feel about it?
Derek Oxford: I loved games at War Memorial back in the day when it was a fun atmosphere and people took pride in it. Now, that's gone. It's time to do away with it like Alabama did away with playing at Legion Field and other schools did away with playing games away from campus in-state.
Robert Boyd: As a former band member, I don't miss Little Rock Games, it's a not fun road game. The last Little Rock game I was in town for was in 2010, and I watched from a Buffalo Wild Wings. War Memorial's time is done.
Jamie Pilote: The Dallas game has so many more advantages than playing in LR ever could. Ending the contract doesn’t mean the miracle on Markham (1 & 2) never happened, but the “home field advantage” that HDN had there is long gone and forcing the team to go through all the travel logistics of an away game for a “home” game every year, just doesn’t make any sense. Enjoy the memories, but it’s time to move on.
Adam Peterson: The Thursday night kickoff renewed my hope for the WMS turnout, but the weather is worrisome. Let's hope this old donkey can still kick.
Josh Goforth: I'd rather all the games be in Fayetteville, but would not have a problem with a non conference game down there every year. However to play any conference games in a 50000 seat stadium is insanity, and unless renovation plans adding another 15k seats is in the works I just don't see that happening for any games in the future.
Eric Harris: Its time has come and gone. The excitement just isn't there anymore and it simply isn't worth the extra effort.
3. Which newcomer do you think has the biggest impact both in the opener and all season?
Derek Oxford: I'll go with Kamren Curl
Robert Boyd: Chase Hayden seems like the easy choice. David Williams might surprise though.
Jamie Pilote: I think the most important newcomer is David Williams (RB transfer from SC). With the loss of Rawleigh we needed some talented depth behind Devwah as well as some senior leadership. I’m most excited about the young DB’s. They’ll have a learning curve for sure, but we haven’t had a young talented crew like this at a desperately needed position in a long time.
Adam Peterson: David Williams NEEDS to be. We need another one-two punch with the loss of Rawleigh. Looks like I'm not alone in this thinking.
Josh Goforth: Grant Morgan might be a guy that the coaches aren't able to keep off the field. Special teams, and at MLB I think he makes an unexpected impact. On offense it seems like David Williams will be getting a lot of carries right away. I think he will rack up a good amount of yards unless Chase Hayden leaps to the second spot in the rotation.
Eric Harris: Well since dang near all of you said RBs I'll go with De'Vion Warren. Bielema has raved about his speed and he's already ahead of the highly rated JUCO guys on the depth chart.
4. Even though it's almost certainly going to be a walkover, what's your score prediction?
Derek Oxford: 38-14 Hogs.
Robert Boyd: I'm stealing last year's Texas State Score. 42-3
Jamie Pilote: 38-10 Hogs.
Adam Peterson: 35-10. Weather keeps the score lower.
Josh Goforth: 48-7. As long as Austin Allen and the 1's are out in the second half with a three or more touchdown lead.
Eric Harris: 42-13. Ho hum.
5. We'll wrap this up by putting you on the spot. What's your record prediction for the Hogs in 2017?
Derek Oxford: Originally said 6-6 but I'll go 7-5 for a third straight year.
Robert Boyd: Arkansas is going to go 8-4 in the regular season and have a shot at 9 wins in the bowl game.
Jamie Pilote: 8-4 (TCU, Bama, Auburn & LSU are the losses)
Adam Peterson: 7-5. Same ole' same ole'.
Josh's Goforth: This team and the program as a whole is due to catch some breaks. A big win against a flat Alabama, or Auburn along with winning the games they should early in the season would set them up for a chance at shocking the SEC. What better year than this while celebrating the loss of Broyles to go challenge the big boys at the top of the SEC?
I think with the schedule 8-5 is reasonable with an upset of one of the SEC/CFP contenders.
Eric Harris: I want to pull the trigger on eight wins, I just don't trust them enough. 7-5.