#28 Central Arkansas FCS Football 2012 Preview

Central Arkansas Bears

Overall Rank: #28
#3 Southland
Central Arkansas FCS College Football 2012 Team Preview
Central Arkansas Team Page


In just their second season eligible for the FCS Playoffs, Central Arkansas earned an at-large bid into the 20 team field. But the Bears did more than just reach the playoffs, they went on the road and knocked off Tennessee Tech 34-14 in the opening round. After that they ran into a tough Montana team, but getting to the playoffs was a big deal for this program and winning a game once they got there gives the Bears even more momentum.

2011 Record: (9-4, 6-1)
2011 Postseason: FCS Playoffs
Coach: Clint Conque (89-51 at Central Arkansas, 89-51 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Brooks Hollingsworth
Defensive Coordinator: Matt Williamson

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Jackie Hinton, RB, 673 yards
Passing: Wynrick Smothers, QB, 374 yards
Receiving: Jesse Grandy, WR, 788 yards
Tackles: Seth Allison, LB, 110
Sacks: Markeith Gaines, DE, 4.5
Interceptions: Jestin Love, S, 5

Other Key Returnees: OT Dominique Allen, CB Dominique Brown, WR Dominique Croom, DE Devin Hawkins, LB Justin Heard, DT Matthew Hornbuckle, CB Marcus Peters, DT Justin Williams

Key Losses: QB Nathan Dick, OT Matt Dickerson, WR Isaiah Jackson, DE Jermayne Lett, S Jerre McKnight, LB Frank Newsome, LB Jessie Sims

A balanced offense and an adequate defense paved the way for Central Arkansas in 2011. There are some major holes to fill, but the defense should be better this year with the return of linebacker Seth Allison and safety Jestin Love. Allison led the team with 110 tackles a year ago and is poised for another huge season. Justin Heard will need to have a big season to help replace middle linebacker Frank Newsome. Love, who intercepted five passes as a sophomore is ready to become the leader of the secondary. With the return of Radarius Winston, who missed the 2011 campaign with an injury, the safety position is in great hands. Cornerbacks Dominique Brown and Marcus Peters started a majority of the games in 2011 and the poor pass defense of a year ago could be very good this time around. Up front Matthew Hornbuckle and Justin Williams anchor the defensive line. Markeith Gaines and Jeremy Jester will have to step up to replace Jermayne Lett. The talent keeps rolling in on the other side of the ball too. Receivers Jesse Grandy and Dominique Croom are the most dangerous pass catching duo in the conference and combined for 1,306 yards and 16 touchdowns a year ago. Running back Jackie Hinton leads a deep and talented backfield. Hinton rushed for 673 yards and four touchdowns, while Terence Bobo added 276 yards with four trips to the end zone.

But can this team be anywhere near as good offensively with a new quarterback and major shake ups on the offensive line? Nathan Dick set school records last year by throwing for 3,275 yards and 32 touchdowns. Nobody is going to replace those numbers. Wynrick Smothers is an experienced option to replace Dick and Jacoby Walker, a transfer from Arkansas, will be in the mix as well. Breaking in a new quarterback will be a little easier with Grandy and Croom out wide, but the entire offense could take a huge step back if nobody is ready to at least be a threat to throw the ball down field. UCA did not rely heavily on their ground game in 2011, but more will be asked from Hinton and Bobo this year. Are they ready to carry the load? Maybe, but the loss of four starters on the offensive line is a major concern. Left tackle Dominique Allen is a great piece to build around, but this unit may give up more than just over one sack per game and have a little more trouble paving the way for the ground game.

The Bottom Line:
While there are some major personnel changes, Central Arkansas is building a program and there is more quality depth on this squad than they have seen in quite some time. That leaves the hope that those holes can be filled relatively quickly. The defense has enough talent to step up and help carry the team while the offense spends some time breaking in their new quarterback and offensive linemen. Opening up on the road against Mississippi and Murray State, with Sam Houston State and Stephen F. Austin following a bye week, does not give this team much time to prepare. That is a brutal start to the season. However, even if they start 0-4, which is very possible, Central Arkansas should be favored to win out from there and a seven game winning streak at the end of the season should be enough to squeeze into the playoffs, but the margin for error is non-existent if the Bears fail to pull off an upset early in the 2012 campaign.

Projected Postseason: None

2011 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 118.69 (88th in nation, 5th in conference)
Passing Offense: 280.77 (15, 3)
Total Offense: 399.46 (30, 4)
Scoring Offense: 32.23 (26, 3)
Rushing Defense: 153.69 (63, 5)
Pass Defense: 254.85 (111, 8)
Total Defense: 408.54 (98, 7)
Scoring Defense: 28.69 (81, 5)
Turnover Margin: .85 (19, 2)
Sacks: 2.15 (50, 2)
Sacks Allowed: 1.15 (18, 3)

Madness 2012 FCS Football Recruit Rankings:
#30 Aum'Arie Wallace
#107 Bailey McIver