#28 Central Arkansas FCS Football 2019 Preview

Central Arkansas Bears
Overall Rank: #28
#4 Southland
 Central Arkansas Logo
Central Arkansas had a disappointing 2018 campaign, finishing with a 6-5 record. After back-to-back playoff berths, the program expects more. However, that was Coach Nathan Brown’s first year leading the program and it was a bit of a rebuilding campaign. UCA returns a lot of talent from that team and if they can use that experience, this is a group that will compete for a spot in the playoffs.
2018 Record: 6-5, 5-4
2018 Postseason: None
Coach: Nathan Brown (6-5 at Central Arkansas, 6-5 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Ken Collums
Defensive Coordinator: Chad Williams
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Carlos Blackman, RB, 786 yards
Passing: Luke Hales, QB, 1,857 yards
Receiving: Brandon Myers, WR, 484 yards
Tackles: Juan Jackson, DB, 91
Sacks: Jackie Harvell, DB, 4.0; Nathan Grant, DE, 4.0
Interceptions: Robert Rochell, DB, 4
Other Key Returnees: RB Kierre Crossley, QB Breylin Smith, OL Hunter Watts, DB Duke Upshaw
Key Losses: WR Jakari Dillard, WR Lester Wells, DB Michael Ware, LB Raphael Garner, DL Eric Jackson, RB Cedric Battle, DE Chris Terrell
Breylin Smith started the first four games under center in 2018 before an injury ended his season early. In those four games he threw for 1,009 yards and six touchdowns with one interception. Luke Hales took over from there and had a solid season. Hales was not as efficient as Smith, nor is he as much of a threat with his legs, but Coach Brown now has two quarterbacks that he knows he can depend on in 2019. Both quarterbacks will miss receivers Lester Wells and Jakari Dillard, but Brandon Myers is back and Central Arkansas has brought in Arkansas transfers Jarrod Barnes and Tobias Enlow, who have the talent to make a huge impact. Carlos Blackman was a bright spot last season. The running back rushed for 786 yards and nine touchdowns. Kierre Crossley proved to be a solid secondary threat on the ground, tallying 600 yards and two touchdowns.
The defense has some holes to fill, but Coach Brown hopes to accomplish much of that with junior college transfers. The dismissal of Chris Terrell will hurt the defense. Last year Terrell led the team with 8.5 sacks and 16.0 tackles-for-loss. Nathan Grant was expected to make the opposition pay from the other end spot while they worried about Terrell. But now Grant must emerge as the team's top pass rushing threat. The secondary has a lot of returning talent. Juan Jackson led the team with 91 tackles, while Robert Rochell picked off four passes.
The Bottom Line:
The landscape in the Southland Conference changed last season. In the recent past it has been all about Central Arkansas and Sam Houston State. Last year Nicholls won the regular season title and Incarnate Word and Lamar both made their playoff debuts. UCA plays those three playoff teams on the road. The competition is getting tougher and the conference seems to be much more balanced. That will again make it difficult for Central Arkansas to reach seven wins and have a chance at returning to the playoffs.
Projected Postseason: None
2018 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 145.5 (75th in nation, 5th in conference)
Passing Offense: 261.7 (26, 7)
Total Offense: 407.2 (46, 7)
Scoring Offense: 30.5 (35, 4)
Rushing Defense: 111.5 (12, 2)
Pass Defense: 290.5 (120, 9)
Total Defense: 402.0 (72, 4)
Scoring Defense: 26.1 (45, 3)
Turnover Margin: 0.91 (8, 1)
Sacks: 2.73 (26, 5)
Sacks Allowed: 1.82 (48, 2)
HERO Sports 2019 Recruit Rankings:
#183 James Kitt
#220 Darius Bowers
#248 ick Nakwaasah