Bobby Petrino is in his second season at Arkansas with a record of 12-12 (.500) and seventh overall with a record of 56-31 (.644). The Razorbacks’ offensive coordinator is Garrick McGee and the defensive coordinator is Willie Robinson.
Skip Holtz is in his fifth season at East Carolina with a record of 38-26 (.594) and in his 10th season overall with a record of 72-49 (.595). Todd Fitch and Steve Shankweiler serve as the offensive coordinators for the Pirates and the defensive coordinator is Greg Hudson.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN ARKANSAS HAS THE BALL
Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett has broken more records than he has played games. In 12 games as a Razorback, Mallett has set or matched 16 different school records. He leads the SEC and ranks 15th nationally in total offense (282.2). He also leads the league and ranks eighth nationally in passing yards per game (285.2) and he is first in the SEC and sixth nationally in pass efficiency (157.8).
D.J. Williams ranks tied for 23rd in the SEC in receptions per game (2.58) and 24th in receiving yards per game (33.25). He ranks third on the Arkansas roster in catches with 31 for 399 yards, a total that ranks fourth on the team.
Mitch Petrus anchors the line, starting all 12 games at offensive guard for the Razorbacks.
East Carolina DB Van Eskridge has intercepted 10 passes during the last two seasons, including a team-best six in 2009. He picked off two fourth-quarter Case Keenum throws in the CUSA Championship Game, one of which serving as the game-saver in the Pirate endzone with just 42 seconds remaining.
Pirate DL C.J. Wilson, who has netted 27.0 sacks and 44.5 TFL during his career, also posted his fourth block when he knocked down USM’s extra point in the fourth quarter.
East Carolina DT Linval Joseph has booked 15.0 TFL's in the last 14 games (28.5 career) in addition to scoring his first TD on the offensive side of the ball vs. Southern Miss.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN EAST CAROLINA HAS THE BALL
Malcolm Sheppard ranks tied for 94th in the nation in tackles for loss (.92 per game) and is tied for 10th in the SEC in tackles for loss. He is Arkansas' leader in tackles for loss (11 for minus-39) and is tied for third in sacks (2.5 for minus-19). Sheppard had multi-tackle games in nine of 12 contests in 2009, and currently ranks tied for third on Arkansas' career TFL list with 37 for 130 yards.
Arkansas DE Tenarius Wright finished the season with 32 total tackles (21 solo), seven tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and three forced fumbles. His seven tackles for loss ranked fifth on the squad.
In the last seven contests, East Carolina QB Patrick Pinkney has averaged 238.6 yards, posted a 62.6 completion percentage and tossed 10 TD's. He’s also been interception-free in the past four contests.
WR Darryl Freeney has broken out with 36 catches for 568 yards and three TD's in his last six outings, an average of 15.8 yards per grab.
RB Dominique Lindsay established career bests in rushing attempts (31) and rushing yards (172) against Tulsa, which followed 144-yard and 139-yard outings against SMU and Memphis, respectively. He averaged 112.7 rushing yards per game in the last six C-USA tilts (676 yards).
Arkansas PK Alex Tejada leads the team in scoring with 98 points. He is 14-of-19 on field goals in 2009, including 3-of-4 between 40 and 49 yards. His longest made attempt this season is 47 yards.
Dennis Johnson is a constant danger returning kicks, averaging 26 yards per return, including a 91 yard touchdown.
Arkansas' Dylan Breeding gets 39 yards per punt, including five over 50 yards. He had put 11 inside the 20 yard line this season.
East Carolina senior P Matt Dodge is enjoying the best year of his career, currently ranking second nationally in with 45.8 yards per boot. Dodge has boomed 21 punts of over 50 yards this season, including a long of 73 yards at Memphis Oct. 27, after having 13 “lengthy” kicks in 2008. He has also placed 22 punts inside the 20-yard line after having 19 a year ago.
WR and RS Dwayne Harris’ 99-yard KOR for a TD vs. UAB was his third of the season (SMU, Rice), good enough for an ECU single-season and career record.
Record: First Meeting
Arkansas will be making its 37th bowl appearance and first under head coach Bobby Petrino... The Razorbacks will be making their fourth appearance in the Liberty Bowl (1971, 1984 and 1987)... The bowl appearance will be the ninth in the last 12 years for the Razorbacks and it will also be the 24th January bowl appearance in school history... Arkansas is winless in 3 previous Liberty Bowl appearances and has an overall bowl record of 11-22-3. The Razorbacks and have won just 1 of their last 6 bowl games, and only 2 of their last 14.
East Carolina has won 1-of-3 previous Liberty Bowl appearances. The Pirates lost 25-19 to Kentucky in last year's Liberty Bowl. The Pirates have an overall bowl record of 5-5 and are making their 4th straight bowl appearance.