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The 10 things to know as Hogs open season at home today

Listen here or at ESPN Arkansas 95.3 in the River Valley, 96.3 in Hot Springs and 104.3 in Harrison-Mountain Home.

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Arkansas opens the 2020 season and the Sam Pittman era against No. 4 Georgia in Razorback Stadium for a 3 p.m. kickoff.

The game will be broadcast on SEC Network and the ESPN app.

You can listen to the game HERE or on the radio at ESPN Arkansas 95.3 in the River Valley, 96.3 in Hot Springs and 104.3 in Harrison-Mountain Home.

After the postgame show, join Phil Elson and Matt Jenkins for Razorback Recap online and on the ESPN Arkansas stations.

10 things to know before kickoff

1. The quartet of senior RB Rakeem Boyd, junior WR Mike Woods and sophomore WRs Treylon Burks and Trey Knox combined for 2,967 all-purpose yards last season, nearly 60% of the 2019 Razorbacks total yardage. Overall, Arkansas returns approximately 81% of its all-purpose yards from last season.

Photo by Arkansas Communications

2. Graduate transfer QB Feleipe Franks is slated to start behind center when the Razorback offense takes the field against the Bulldogs.

The veteran is no stranger to the SEC after spending 2017-19 as Florida’s starting signal caller, where he guided the 2018 Gators to a No. 6 final ranking in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll and a 41-15 Chick Fil-A Peach Bowl victory over No. 7 Michigan.

Franks played in 28 games and made 25 starts for the Gators, registering 4,593 passing yards with 37 touchdowns to 17 interceptions and a 59.1% completion percentage (354-for-599).

In addition, he ran for 438 yards and eight scores. Franks was Florida’s starting quarterback the first three games last season but missed the remainder of the year due to injury.

 

Photo by Arkansas Communications

3. Senior RB Rakeem Boyd is back for his third season on the Hill after leading the team in rushing each of the last two seasons.

 

Last year, he carried the ball 184 times for 1,133 yards and eight touchdowns while also hauling in 19 receptions for 160 yards. The Houston, Texas native has run for 100+ yards in a game eight times during his Razorback career, making him one of just 16 backs in school history to do so.

Boyd ranked fourth in the SEC and 27th nationally averaging 94.4 yards per game; in addition, his 6.4 yards per carry ranked ninth in the conference.

On just eight carries, he rushed for a career-best 185 yards against Western Kentucky, averaging 23.1 yards per attempt, including two touchdown runs of 76 and 86 yards with the latter being a career-long.

Photo by Arkansas Communications

4. Arkansas is welcoming two new transfer additions on the defensive line to bolster its front. JUCO transfer Julius Coates comes from East Mississippi CC where he racked up 30 tackles, 9.0 tackles for loss and 6.0 sacks last season.

Graduate transfer Xavier Kelly joins the fold from Clemson where he won two National Championships and four ACC Championships, while durable senior Jonathan Marshall returns after missing just one game in the last four years. Marshall finished third on the team in 2019 making 4.5 tackles for loss.

5. Razorback players selected four seniors in Boyd, Franks, Marshall and LB Grant Morgan to serve as team captains for the 2020 campaign.

6. Nobody expected Sam Pittman’s Arkansas head coaching debut to come against his previous employer, Georgia, but due to the 10-game SEC-only schedule, the Bulldogs were added to the slate as the season-opener.

Pittman spent 2016-19 on Georgia’s staff as the associate head coach-offensive line coach for current Bulldog head coach Kirby Smart, where the duo won three SEC Eastern Division titles and reached the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game.

Hogs assistant head coach-special teams coordinator Scott Fountain was also on staff in Athens from 2016-18.

Photo by Arkansas Communications

7. Junior LB Bumper Pool is the leading returning tackler in 2020 and his 94 stops last season ranked second on the Razorbacks.

He is the leading returner with 6.5 tackles for loss last season, which was tied for second-most on the 2019 squad. Pool leads all active Hogs with 123 career tackles and tied for the active lead with 9.0 tackles for loss.

8. The Hogs and Dawgs are meeting for the 15th time in a series that dates back to 1969. Georgia won the last meeting of the series, a wild 45-32 contest in 2014 in Little Rock, to gain a 10-4 all-time series lead.

They haven’t met in Fayetteville since 2009, when Georgia won the highest-scoring game all-time in the series, 51-42. The Bulldogs have an 8-2 series lead in conference games.

9. Due to Covid-19, there are many schedule notables as the Razorbacks begin their campaign.

Arkansas has never hosted an SEC opponent to begin the season; the earliest conference home game was Week 2 of the 2009 season against Georgia.

Ranked fourth, Georgia is the highest-ranked foe the Razorbacks have faced in a home opener since No. 3 Miami (Fla.) on Aug. 31, 1991, in Little Rock.

It’s been 62 years since Arkansas opened its season at home against a conference opponent as it welcomed then Southwest Conference member Baylor on Sept. 20, 1958, in Frank Broyles’ first game as head coach.

Saturday’s game is also the latest season opener since Sept. 26, 1953, when Arkansas took on Oklahoma State in Little Rock.

10. Covid-19 capacity restrictions have limited Razorback Stadium to an expected crowd of 16,000-17,000 spectators. Razorback Stadium’s official capacity was last around that mark from 1947-49 at 18,500 spectators.

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