#33 Central Arkansas FCS Football 2014 Preview

Central Arkansas Bears

Overall Rank: #33
#4 Southland

Central Arkansas Team Page#33 Central Arkansas FCS Football 2014 PreviewBuy Central Arkansas Football Tickets

In the end, Central Arkansas won the games they should have won and pulled off a nice upset against Sam Houston State to close out the season. But that 7-5 record was not enough to reach the playoffs in what was a very good Southland Conference. This year will look different with Coach Steve Campbell taking over the team. He spent the last decade at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. The new staff will need some time to pull everything together and this year could look a lot like last season with some big wins here and there but not enough to reach the playoffs or seriously compete for a conference title.

2013 Record: 7-5, 4-3
2013 Postseason: None
Coach: Steve Campbell (0-0 at Central Arkansas, 0-0 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Nathan Brown
Defensive Coordinator: Greg Stewart

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Willie Matthews, RB, 564 yards
Passing: Ryan Howard, QB, 1,848 yards
Receiving: Dezmin Lewis, WR, 721 yards
Tackles: Dillion Winfrey, DB, 56
Sacks: Jonathan Woodard, DE, 7.0
Interceptions: Marvin Mitchell, DB, 3

Other Key Returnees: RB Blake Veasley, WR Desmond Smith, WR Courtney Whitehead, WR Damien Watts, WR Jatavious Wilson, LB Ricky Wyatt, OL Cole Caruthers, DL T.J. Randall

Key Losses: QB Wynrick Smothers, TE Chase Dixon, OL Dominique Allen, LB Justin Heard, DB Jestin Love, DB Radarius Winston, DB Marcus Peters, DL Markeith Gaines

The pass heavy offense does lose Wynrick Smothers, but Ryan Howard is back after outperforming Smothers in 2013. Howard, a 5-11 senior, threw for 1,848 yards and 18 touchdowns with just four interceptions. Howard will easily have the best season of his collegiate career in 2014. And it helps that the talent around him is immense. Lineman Cole Caruthers is one of the best in the nation and C.J. Simon is another quality senior. Howard will have plenty of time to find his talented receivers. Dezmin Lewis is the best of the bunch and the 6-4 senior caught 50 passes for 721 yards and seven scores a year ago. Desmond Smith, Courtney Whitehead and Damien Watts all eclipsed the 500 yard receiving mark and are back for more. Running back Willie Matthews is a great pass catcher out of the backfield, gathering 45 passes for 265 yards and adding 564 yards and five scores on the ground. The Bears will not look to the ground too much, but when they do Matthews will get the job done.

Central Arkansas did quite well defensively in 2013, but there is still work to be done, especially in the secondary where Jestin Love, Marcus Peters and Radarius Winston need to be replaced. The new look secondary will build around Dillion Winfrey and Marvin Mitchell. At linebacker, Justin Heard was easily the team’s top tackler during his senior season with 95 tackles. Ricky Wyatt, who totaled 41 tackles in 2013, will be asked to pick up his production. The line also lost one of their best players in Markeith Gaines. Jonathan Woodard, who totaled 49 tackles, 7.0 sacks and 10.5 tackles-for-loss, is a great piece to build around. The new faces in the secondary will have a much, much easier time adjusting if the line can get consistent pressure on the quarterback.

The Bottom Line:
Once again Central Arkansas has a brutal schedule. It starts at Texas Tech and other non-conference matchups include Tennessee-Martin and Montana State. The Bears have to travel to Southeastern Louisiana and Sam Houston State too. The only good news about the schedule is that McNeese State is not on it. If the Bears are capable of pulling off an upset or two, they will be eyeing a playoff spot heading into November.

Projected Postseason: None

2013 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 121.3 (101st in nation, 8th in conference)
Passing Offense: 331.6 (5, 2)
Total Offense: 452.9 (16, 3)
Scoring Offense: 33.2 (29, 6)
Rushing Defense: 150.4 (48, 2)
Pass Defense: 250.9 (102, 6)
Total Defense: 401.3 (74, 4)
Scoring Defense: 27.2 (61, 2)
Turnover Margin: 0.30 (33, 2)
Sacks: 2.25 (43, 3)
Sacks Allowed: 1.83 (54, 5)

Madness 2014 Recruit Rankings:
#106 Curtis Parker
#143 David Tachie


See All College Sports Madness Top 44 FCS Football Previews