For the second-straight season the East Central University football team will open the season against Arkansas-Monticello. For the 2014 season that game will be at Willis "Convoy" Leslie Cotton Boll Stadium, Saturday, Sept. 6 at 6 p.m. in Monticello, Ark. The trip to Monticello is the first for the Tigers since both teams helped form the Great American Conference in 2011.
The Broadcast: ECU's radio home for Tiger football is Ada's KXFC, 105.5, FM 'The X-Factor'. Mike Manos returns to broadcast the games for his 18th consecutive season. Manos has worked 178 Tiger games since taking over the play-by-play duties in 1997.
The Coverage: Fans who can't be at the game can find links to live stats, live video and the KXFC radio broadcast on ECUTigers.com. Go to the football schedule page. You can also download the KXFC radio app for your smartphone by searching '105.5 the X Factor.'
Coaches Show: Every Monday night fans are encouraged to come to the University Center on ECU's campus for the weekly Coaches Show on 105.5 the X-Factor. Each week coaches from all 13 sports will be on hand to talk about the latest news from their teams. Fans will be able to tweet in questions to @ECUTigersCoach or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Koi Ishto Stadium: At the 2014 ECU Tiger Kickoff Dinner and Auction, ECU President Dr. John Hargrave announced that the stadium at Norris Field would be renamed Koi Ishto Stadium in honor of the relationship between ECU and the Chickasaw Nation. Koi Ishto means big cat in the Chickasaw language. A formal dedication will be held, Saturday, Nov. 15 on Chickasaw Appreciation Day when the Tigers battle with Southeastern Oklahoma State.
Scouting Arkansas-Monticello: The Boll Weevils finished 2013 with a 5-6 overall record and a 4-6 mark in the GAC. UAM returns 55 letterman, including 16 starters from the 2013 roster and lost just eight starters.
In 2013 the team averaged 316.8 yards of total offense and allowed 400.8 per game. The Boll Weevils were more likely to pass the ball, with 211.9 yards per game on the pass compared to 104.9 on the rush. UAM was strong in the red-zone with a 32-of-35 mark (91%) for the season, while holding the opposition to a 37-of-46 mark (80%).
Colton Morrison is the returning quarterback that saw the most action last season and will be one of four in the running for the spot this season. Morrison went 124-of-206 passing, with five interceptions. Rod Smith is the returning rusher with 514 yard and six TD's.
Mike Early is one of the key returners on the defense with 36 (29-7) tackles, four interceptions 931 yards), eight pass breakups and 12 quarterback hurries.
The Boll Weevils also have an All-American returner in kicker Jamie McGee. McGee was 17-of-19 in field goals and 28-0f-31 in extra point attempts.
Against the Boll Weevils: Last season the Tigers opened the season against UAM and claimed a 46-2 victory despite trailing in total offensive yards (297/349).
ECU had a strong rushing game (224/23), but the Boll Weevils came up big passing (73/326). The key difference was the four passes that the Tigers intercepted, including an 80-yard return for a TD from Qumain Black.
JoJo Snell had a strong game rushing for ECU, with 101 yards and a touchdown. Spencer Bond was 7-of-17 for the day and scored once on the rush and once on the pass. Kellan Taeatafa-De La Rosa led the returning defensive players with three tackles-for-loss for 11 yards.
Rod Smith and Colton Morrison were keys to the Boll Weevils offense in the game. Smith scored a TD on 21 yards rushing, while Morrison also added a TD and was 38-of-55 passing.
Keith Reynolds is the top returner defensively for UAM, with six tackles.
The Series: Saturday's game will be just the seventh meeting in the all-time series, which ECU leads 4-2, including a 3-0 mark when playing as conference members. The teams have battled in Monticello just once in the series, with UAM earning a 14-26 win Sept. 23, 1989.
GAC Predictions: After finishing tied for sixth in the 2013 GAC standings, ECU has been picked to finish fourth in the 2014 GAC Preseason Poll, as voted on by the league's head coaches.
The Tigers, who finished 5-5 overall and in the conference a year ago, claimed 63 points in the poll. 2013 top finisher, Henderson State was named as the preseason favorite with 100 points and 10 first-place votes. Harding earned the other first-place vote and a total of 89 points. Ouachita Baptist was third with 84 points and Southern Arkansas was fifth, just three points behind ECU with 60 points.
Southwestern Oklahoma finished sixth (54 points), Arkansas Tech seventh (44 points), Southeastern Oklahoma eighth (41 points), Arkansas-Monticello ninth (37 points), Northwestern Oklahoma 10th (22 points) and Southern Nazarene 11th (11 points).
Pre-Season Attention: Several members of the Tigers roster have been gaining attention during the pre-season from different organizations. Senior Qumain Black was a USA College Football Pre-Season All-America First Team Defense selection as well as a NewsOK.com Pre-Season All-Star selection.
Senior JuJu Turituri also claimed USA College Football Pre-Season honors as a second team defensive pick and a NewOK.com selection.
Junior Travis Hening (offense) and senior Kellan Taeatafa-De La Rosa (defense) were named to the USA College Football All-America Third Teams. Hening was also selected to the NewsOK.com team, with junior Spencer Bond on offense.
From the Playing Field to Coaching: The majority of the ECU coaching staff consists of familiar names for Tiger football fans. Eight of the current coaches were members of the ECU football program as collegiate athletes. Rashad Jackson, Chad Roark, Austin Crisler, Fred Gaines, Dustin Lasell, Tyler McGrew, George Robbins and Reuben Tiller have all worn an orange and black uniform before moving to a leadership role.
Up Next: The Tigers will open the home portion of the season Saturday, Sept. 13 when they host Southern Arkansas at 6 p.m. The game is the annual Take A Kid to the Game Day, with Mercy giving away free t-shirts. There will also be a Cheer Clinic that day from 9-11 for $25. The participate in the clinic will perform at half time of the football game and receive a t-shirt.