||TENNESSEE TECH at ARKANSAS
6 p.m. CT
Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium (72,000)
|LIVE TV: PPV/ESPN3
Watson Brown is in his fourth season at Tennessee Tech with a record of 13-21 (.382) and 26th overall with a record of 107-172-1 (.384). The Golden Eagles' offensive coordinator is Brown and the defensive coordinator is Billy Taylor.
Bobby Petrino is in his third season at Arkansas with a record of 13-12 (.520) and eighth overall with a record of 57-31 (.648). The Razorbacks' offensive coordinator is Garrick McGee and the defensive coordinator is Willie Robinson.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN TENNESSEE TECH HAS THE BALL
The Golden Eagles appear to be three-deep at all three backs, including leading rusher Dontey Gay. Junior Tim Benford, a two-time all-OVC selection, headlines the receivers with an ability to dominate games. In just two seasons he ranks ninth in career receptions with 98 and he's knocking on the door of the school's Top 10 list for career receiving yards, coming into the season with 1,362. Sophomore Tre Lamb was on the field quite a bit last year and came into fall camp as the projected starter at QB. Senior Cass Barnes has been a starter and provides another fleet-footed option with experience.
The Razorback defense returns five of its top seven tacklers from last season. Jerry Franklin returns after leading the squad in tackles each of the last two seasons. In records dating back to 1960, only Mick Thomas has led the team in tackles three-straight seasons. Jake Bequette and Zach Stadther return after starting on the defensive line last season. Bequette was the team leader in 2009 in sacks (5.5) and quarterback hurries (8). Arkansas returns players who accounted for nine of its 13 interceptions in 2009 including Franklin and Tramain Thomas who each had three to lead the team.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN ARKANSAS HAS THE BALL
The defensive line could be Tech's deepest area according to Brown, where his squad could be three-deep. There are six returning veterans listed atop the depth chart at the three positions, plus a handful of new names prepared to bolster the attack. At the Bear defensive end spot, Charlie Seivers is the starter and could be an all-OVC performer. Jake McIntosh has been among the team's leaders the past two seasons and is another playmaker who just finds ways to make a difference. Dustin Dillehay is back at rover where he led the team in tackles and ranked among team leaders last season.
Arkansas returns players who accounted for 100 percent of its passing yards in 2010, 85 percent of its receiving yards and 75 percent of its rushing yards. Ryan Mallett is the only quarterback from a BCS conference returning to college football this year who finished in the top 10 in pass efficiency in 2009 (152.46). Mallett set or matched 16 different school records during his sophomore season completing 225-of-403 passes for 3,624 yards and 30 touchdowns with just seven interceptions. D.J. Williams was named second-team All-SEC by the league coaches in 2009. All five Arkansas players that had a 100-yard receiving game for the Razorbacks last season are projected to return to the squad.
Tech's kicking game is in capable hands, beginning with sophomore long snapper Jordan Adams and holder Nick Campbell, who is Tech's leading candidate at punter. Jason Lennartz is also an experienced punter. Like punter, the Golden Eagles have two placekickers who can get the job done. Returnee Tim Donegan handled the duties last year as a freshman, and he's joined by Oregon State transfer Matt Baker.
Arkansas returns Alex Tejada, who handled field goal duties the last two seasons and split time kicking off for the Razorbacks in 2009. Tejada set the school record for career PATs in 2009 and his career total currently stands at 136. Tejada also set the school record for PATs made in a season last year with 58. Dylan Breeding who handled nearly all of the punting duties last season also returns. Kick returner Dennis Johnson returns after setting the career (1,936) and single-season (1,031) records for kickoff return yardage a year ago.
Record: First Meeting
Arkansas opens the 116th year of Razorback football on Sept. 4 against Tennessee Tech in Fayetteville, Ark. Arkansas has won 20 of its last 25 season-opening contests. The Hogs are 90-22-4 all time in season openers. Arkansas' schedule includes games against teams that have won two of the last three national championships (LSU 2007, Alabama 2009). Including this year's meeting with Alabama, Arkansas has played the defending national champ nine times in the last 14 years. Overall, the Razorbacks are 7-13 against defending national title winners. In 2008, Bobby Petrino became the only first-year head coach in school history to lead Arkansas to an on the field victory over the national title winner from the previous season (LSU).