(Stats Perform) – Southland Conference member Central Arkansas is one of 15 FCS programs (out of 127 overall) that is playing nonconference games this fall. Due to coronavirus concerns, the Southland postponed its conference schedule until a potential spring season.
LOCATION: Conway, Arkansas
STADIUM: Estes Stadium
HEAD COACH: Nathan Brown (15-9, two seasons)
2019 RECORD: 9-4, 7-2 Southland (Tie/1st)
2020 FALL SCHEDULE: Austin Peay in Montgomery, Alabama (Aug. 29), at UAB (Sept. 3), at Arkansas State (Sept. 19), Missouri State (Sept. 26), at North Dakota State (Oct. 3), at Eastern Kentucky (Oct. 10), at Missouri State (Oct. 17), Eastern Kentucky (Oct. 31), at Louisiana-Lafayette (Nov. 21
PROJECTED RETURNING STARTERS: 18 (9 offense/9 defense)
3 KEY RETURNEES: QB Breylin Smith, WR Lujuan Winningham, CB Robert Rochell
BIGGEST SHOES TO FILL: OTs Hunter Watts (graduated) and Parker Ray (knee surgery)
OUTLOOK: If the Southland co-champ, which was ranked 11th in the Stats Perform FCS Preseason Top 25, winds up playing the largest FCS schedule this fall, it won’t have a spring season. The Bears’ game at three-time defending national champion North Dakota State is considered the biggest in the FCS this fall. Smith fuels a potent passing game, having set the school’s single-season record for passing yards (3,704) and tying the mark for touchdown passes (32) last season, and he gets back top receivers Winningham and Tyler Hudson. RB Kierre Crossley seeks a strong senior campaign after the offense lacked a consistent run game last season (the Bears were last among FCS teams with a winning record). Defensively, Rochell is an NFL prospect and was joined by DL Nathan Grant and LB T.J. Campbell, the team’s top-returning tackler, on the Southland’s preseason first team.