Arkansas opens the 2023 campaign under fourth-year head coach Sam Pittman against Western Carolina on Saturday, Sept. 2, at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock, Ark. Kickoff is scheduled for noon CT on SEC Network+/ESPN+.
10 Things to know – Western Carolina
1. – The Razorbacks are 152-62-4 all-time, including a 1-0 mark in the Pittman era, at War Memorial Stadium, the program’s home venue in Central Arkansas since 1948.
2. – Entering 2023, Arkansas comes off its second consecutive bowl victory and its second consecutive winning season, a feat not accomplished by the program since 2015-16 when the Hogs won 15 games with victories in the Texas Bowl and Liberty Bowl. From 2021-22, Arkansas has won 16 games with victories in the Outback Bowl and Liberty Bowl.
3. –Under Pittman, the Hogs have been invited to a bowl game in three consecutive seasons. Pittman is one of only four Arkansas coaches in program history to begin their tenures with three consecutive bowl berths, joining Lou Holtz (1977-79), Ken Hatfield (1984-86) and Houston Nutt (1998-2000).
4. – Saturday marks the first meeting between Arkansas and Western Carolina.
5. – Saturday will be Pittman’s 37th game as the head coach at Arkansas. Of those 37 games, 32 have been against an opponent from the SEC, a Power 5 foe and/or an opponent ranked in the AP Top 25 poll.
6. – DL Zach Williams (4.5 sacks), LB Chris Paul Jr. (4.0 sacks) and DL Landon Jackson (3.0 sacks) helped the Hogs total 42 sacks in 2022, breaking the program’s single-season sack record.
7. – QB KJ Jefferson, who passed for 2,648 yards and 24 touchdowns with 640 rushing yards and nine scores on the ground in 2022, is poised to rewrite a large portion of the Arkansas record book as he heads into his third season as the Razorbacks’ full-time starter. Jefferson, the first Arkansas quarterback to earn preseason All-SEC accolades since 2012, sits inside the career top 10 in school history in completions (436 – No. 7), yards (5,816 – No. 7), touchdown passes (48 – No. 6), 300-yard passing games (5 – No. 3), total plays (1,028 – No. 6), total yards (7,245 – No. 5) and touchdown responsibility (67 – No. 4).
8. – RB Raheim ‘Rocket’ Sanders is coming off one of the greatest seasons by an Arkansas running back in recent memory after rushing for 10 touchdowns and 1,443 yards – fourth-most in a single season in school history – in 2022. Sanders, the first Arkansas running back to earn preseason first-team All-SEC recognition since 2012, is just the second Razorback to ever run for 1,400+ yards and return to school the following year, joining the legendary Darren McFadden, who ran for a then school record 1,647 yards in 2006 before breaking his own record in 2007 with 1,830 yards.
9. – DB Hudson Clark and LB Chris ‘Pooh’ Paul Jr. are the Hogs’ leading returning tacklers, combining for 129 total stops and 12.0 tackles for loss in 2022. Paul also racked up four sacks, helping the Arkansas defense total 42 sacks on the year and break the program’s single-season sack record.
10. – Arkansas rushed for 200 yards in an SEC-leading nine games last season. The Hogs averaged 236.7 rushing yards per game in 2022, which ranked second in the SEC and seventh nationally.