HawgBeat's 2020 Preseason Burning Questions: Who will be the Arkansas Razorbacks' starting punter - Sam Loy, Reid Bauer
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HawgBeat's Preseason Burning Questions: Who will be the starting punter?

Sam Loy was Arkansas' primary punter in 2019.
Sam Loy was Arkansas' primary punter in 2019. (Arkansas Athletics)

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The status of the 2020 college football season remains perilous as we inch closer to - at least what is scheduled to be - Week 1.

As of this moment, Arkansas is still set to open the Sam Pittman era against Nevada on Sept. 5 in Fayetteville. That could change if the SEC follows the Big Ten’s lead and shifts to a conference-only schedule.

However, for the time being, HawgBeat is treating it as everything is moving forward as planned. That includes the start of NFL-style OTAs - which are essentially walk-through practices - for the Razorbacks on Friday.

Leading up to that date, we are revealing our 10 “burning questions” surrounding Arkansas as it prepares for what everyone hopes to be a fall football season. Next up…

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Who will be Arkansas' starting punter?

On Wednesday, A.J. Reed - the graduate transfer from Duke - was named to the Lou Groza Award watch list, meaning he’s one of the top 30 kickers in the country heading into the 2020 season. It seems that job is his to lose with Connor Limpert moving on because of graduation.

Arkansas is also set at long snapper and holder with Jordan Silver and Jack Lindsey both returning after starting at those spots, respectively, in 2019. The only special teams position still up in the air as the Razorbacks head into the preseason is punter.

Sam Loy, who began his career at Vanderbilt and spent one year at Colorado before transferring to Arkansas, won the starting job last season and did okay. He averaged just 39.5 yards on 56 punts, but he had excellent hang time and pinned 19 of those punts inside the 20-yard line.

The biggest issue for Loy was consistency. He shanked punts a little more frequently than you’d like at the SEC level. That led to Reid Bauer - the primary punter in 2018 - getting some action.

Bauer averaged just 36.7 yards on three punts last season, which was actually down from his 38.9-yard average on 56 punts his freshman year. His hang time isn’t as impressive as Loy’s, though.

Although he didn’t punt any last season, Matthew Phillips averaged 38.0 yards on four punts as a freshman in 2018 and has shown some glimpses of potential in the limited portions of practice open to the media. He has the added value of being capable of serving as the backup kicker on road trips, too.

The wild card of the bunch is George Caratan, who transferred in after not appearing in a game at Michigan the last two years. As a walk-on, he’s presumably eligible this season.

We don’t have much to go on with him, but it’s worth noting he is the only punter brought in by Arkansas’ new staff. That means even more considering the staff includes a special teams coordinator in Scott Fountain.

It may not be as sexy as a quarterback battle, but this is certainly a competition to keep an eye on throughout fall camp. If one of the first three guys wins the starting job, he’d immediately become a favorite to be put on scholarship because the Razorbacks will need to reach the 85-man limit once again. That won’t be the case for Caratan, though, because his eligibility this season hinges on him being a walk-on.

HawgBeat's Preseason Burning Questions

1. Has Feleipe Franks developed chemistry with the wide receivers/tight ends?

2. What will Arkansas use as its base defense?

3. Which second-team wide receiver will step up?

4. How will the secondary shape up?

5. How will the offensive line shape up?

6. Where will the graduate transfers fit on the depth chart?

7. What will Arkansas’ depth look like at tight end?

8. Will any of Arkansas’ true freshman contributors from last season experience a sophomore slump?

9. Who will be Arkansas’ starting punter?