The University of Arkansas at Monticello football team is set to open the 2014 season this Saturday, September 6 at home against East Central University.

Saturday’s game has been dubbed a “White Out” with fans encouraged to wear white apparel to the game. The first 150 UAM students into the stadium will receive a free white t-shirt and a chance at winning a prize to be announced during the third quarter. The Weevils will be wearing white uniforms as well, instead of the traditional home green.

The game, which opens the Weevils 102nd season, is set to kickoff at 6 p.m. at Willis “Convoy” Leslie Cotton Boll Stadium on the UAM campus.

Throughout the first 101 years of UAM football, the Weevils have a 43-56-4 record in season openers. The last win on opening day came in the 2012 season, a 78-0 triumph over College of Faith at home. In home openers, UAM has a 47-42-5 all-time record, including last year’s 42-34 win over Southeastern Oklahoma State.

For the first time since joining the Great American Conference, East Central is coming to Monticello to play football. With the beginning of the new league and shifting schedules to accommodate new members Southern Nazarene and Northwestern Oklahoma State, UAM has had to travel to Ada, Oklahoma in each of the past three seasons, all resulting in losses.

ECU holds a 6-2 all-time advantage over UAM. The last game played in Monticello between the two squads was in 1989, a 26-14 UAM victory. Last year in the season opener played at Norris Field in Ada, ECU took advantage of five UAM turnovers to defeat the Weevils 46-22.

UAM Picked to Finish 9th in GAC Preseason Poll

The Weevils were picked to finish ninth of 11 teams in the preseason Great American Conference coaches poll. UAM finished eighth in the league last year. Henderson State was the preseason favorite, followed by Harding, Ouachita Baptist, East Central, Southern Arkansas, Southwestern Oklahoma State, Arkansas Tech and Southeastern Oklahoma State. Northwestern Oklahoma State and Southern Nazarene round out the poll behind UAM.

Weevils Return 16 Starters

The Weevils return a total of 16 starters from last year’s squad, including preseason All-America honorees Mike Early (cornerback) and Jamie McGee (kicker). UAM has seven returning starters on defense, seven on offense and both of its specialists from last year.

Cotton Bowl Stadium Has Been Kind

The Boll Weevils went 5-1 last year at the friendly confines of Willis “Convoy” Leslie Cotton Boll Stadium, the only loss coming to eventual GAC champion Henderson State.

Scouting the Tigers

After finishing sixth in the GAC last season with a record of 5-5, East Central has been picked to finish fourth this season by the league’s head coaches. ECU returns 51 lettermen from last year’s team and a total of 12 starters (six offense, six defense).

The Tigers ranked second last season in the GAC in pass offense with nearly 285 yards through the air per game, and second in the league in turnover margin (+6). ECU tied Henderson State last year for the league lead in total turnovers forced (30).
Quarterback Spencer Bond, the league’s second best passer in 2013, returns for his junior season after averaging 281 passing yards per game last year.

New Offensive Coordinator

The only staff change made in the offseason was the hiring of new offensive coordinator Kyle Shipp.

Shipp came to UAM after three seasons as receivers coach and recruiting coordinator at fellow Great American Conference member Arkansas Tech. While coaching for the Wonder Boys, Shipp tutored a pair of All-GAC receivers. Shipp has also coached at Arkansas State, including a year with then-head coach Hugh Freeze installing the spread no-huddle offense seen today at Ole Miss.

Shipp played football at Arkansas Tech, and holds a pair of degrees from the institution.

Other than Shipp, Hud Jackson’s staff remains intact, including fourth-year defensive coordinator Keith Scott and fourth-year defensive line coach Marcus Hill. Mario Jebereaal (offensive line), Cody Scribner (linebackers) and Zach Case are all in their second year at UAM. Kyle Manning returns for his third season as a receivers coach after lettering two years as a quarterback for the Boll Weevils.

Preseason All-America

After becoming the most decorated kicker in UAM history last season as a true freshman, Jamie McGee, as well as senior cornerback Mike Early, earned preseason All-America honors from USA College Football.

McGee connected on a school-record 17 field goals last season and led the Weevils in scoring with a total of 79 points during 11 games in his first collegiate season. The Lake Charles, Louisiana native earned postseason honors at every level following his outbreak rookie campaign, including the first team All-Great American Conference kicker position.

Early, who is working on his fourth letter during the 2014 season as one of the team’s starting cornerbacks, was an All-GAC Honorable Mention selection last year after ranking eighth in the league in passed defended and fifth in interceptions. The Denham Springs, Louisiana native totaled 36 tackles, four interceptions and 12 passes defended. He was also one of UAM’s most consistent return specialists, totaling over 350 yards throughout the season between kickoff and punt returns. He recorded UAM’s second longest punt return ever with an 88-yard touchdown return in the season finale against Southern Arkansas.

Other Key Returners

– Rod Smith, RB (514 Rushing Yards,6 TD)
– Keith Reynolds, LB (88 Tackles, 6.5 TFL)
– Nick Williams , RB (327 Rushing Yards, 5 TD)
– Alex Black, LB (67 Tackles, 5 PBU)
– Colton Morrison, QB (1,041 Passing Yards)
– Louis Curry, DE (9 TFL, 3.5 Sacks)
– Cody Trimble, QB (1,172 Passing Yards, 10 TD)
– Jalen Garmon, DT (6 TFL, 2 Sacks)
– Cody Bordelon, WR (254 Receiving Yards)
– Demarcus Robinson, DB (4 INT)
– Trey Taylor, WR (216 Receiving Yards)
– Anthony Hughes, DB (48 Tackles)
– Ivory Washington, WR (707 All-Purpose Yards)
– Chris Roberts, DB (41 Tackles, 3 PBU)
– Reagan Wise, P (5 50+Yard Punts, 15 inside 20)
– George Alvarez, LB (39 Tackles, 1 Sack)