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The Summer Football Preview: Central Arkansas Bears

The Central Arkansas Bears open up the 2014 season for Texas Tech and we preview the Red Raiders' first game of the year.

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Quick Hits:

Central Arkansas Bears
Last Year's Record:
Coach: Steve Campbell
Game 1: August 30th

Five Things:

1. The First Test. This is, obviously, Texas Tech's first game of the season and the spot light will largely be on Texas Tech as we will all be looking forward to what Texas Tech will look like the first game out of the gate. This shouldn't be all that tough of a game for Texas Tech.  We're going to get our first look at the Texas Tech defensive line, which is probably the thing that I'm most interested in seeing.  The unfortunate part is that Central Arkansas wasn't really all that much of a running team.  Campbell's Gulf Coast team last year was very much a running team, good for 8th in the country among JUCO teams with over 2,800 yards of rushing offense.

2. New Coach. Central Arkansas will have their first game under new coach Steve Campbell, who was previously at Gulf Coast C.C.  Gulf Coast produced Rashad Fortenberry, Chris Payne and Javon Bell for Texas Tech.  Campbell was really successful at Gulf Coast, so it wouldn't surprise me to see him have the same type of success with sufficient time.  As far as this game, I think it's pretty easy to think that a first year coach is going to have some first game jitters and complications.

3. Howard Produces. QB Ryan Howard should be the starter this year after throwing for 1,848 yards in just 9 games. Howard threw 18 touchdowns and just 4 interceptions. Howard split time with Wynrick Smothers, who was pretty good in his own right, but Howard was better, especially in terms of getting the ball into the endzone. Smothers threw 9 interceptions and only 8 touchdowns on the year. I'm not sure if Howard just replaced Smothers or of Smothers was hurt. Still, Howard looks to be pretty good.

4. Depth at Receiver. There is plenty of receiving talent returning for Central Arkansas. The top 6 receivers all return, led by WR Dezmin Lewis who was pretty danged good, catching 50 passes for 721 yards and 7 touchdowns. Central Arksansas very much spread the ball around as Central Arkansas had receivers catching 43, 41, 45, 39 and 27 receptions, not including Lewis.

5. Woodward Can Rush. From what I can tell, DL Jonathan Woodward is the best returning defensive player. Woodward had 50 tackles from the line, and that included 8 sacks on the year.

From the Spring:

Aside from having a wicked field, head coach Steve Campbell after the spring game:

"I was very pleased with the fact that we had zero turnovers on Saturday,' he said. "We didn't turn it over at all. With over 90 snaps between the 1s and 2s, we protected the ball. I thought all the quarterbacks did a great job of that. And the backs and receivers did a good job of securing it as well.

"In two of our three scrimmages, we had no turnovers, and that's great.'

Several veterans stood out on offense, according to Campbell.

"I was very pleased with the way the No. 1 offense moved the football,' he said. "And I was happy to see some of the playermakers on offense come out and make plays. (Senior receiver) Dezmin Lewis made plays, both quarterbacks (Ryan Howard/Taylor Reed) threw the ball well. I thought (running back) Willie Matthews did a good job between the tackles.

"We do have to get more physical at the point of attack offensively. We're still not running the football the way we need to. We're not winning at the line of scrimmage like we need to.

"Defensively, I liked the fact that the (No.) 1 defense kept the offense out of the end zone. They gave up two field goals, so they bent but they didn't break. But they did a good job with the red-zone defense."