Sunday, August 17, 2008

Can Arkansas Line Up Another New Years Bowl?


SEC West #4 Arkansas Razorbacks

2007 Results and Offseason
Arkansas played in their second straight New Years Day Bowl led by the outstanding running back tandem of Darren McFadden and Felix Jones. Both left early for the NFL and HC Houston Nutt bolted for Oxford. After a lengthy head coaching search, Arkansas plucked Bobby Petrino from the Atlanta Falcons to Fayetteville.
2007 Record: 8-5, 4-4
Ret. Starters: 10

Ret. Lettermen: 43

Off PPG 34.3 (3rd) RYPG 282.4 (1st) PYPG 149.8 (12th)

Def PPG 31.1 (10th) RYPG 142.4 (6th) PYPG 249.6 (10th)


Offense (6 RS, 19RL)

Casey Dick is back for the Hogs at QB and should have better passing stats under Petrino's system. His younger brother Nathan Dick could press his older brother. Do not rule out true freshman Jim Youngblood if he shows a lot of promise for the future. Ryan Mallet lost his appeal and will sit out '08 (Mich transfer).Arkansas led the SEC in rushing last season, but Darren McFadden and Felix Jones are both gone to the NFL (1st round). DeAnthony Curtis is a true freshman and could very well start. The leading returning rusher is junior Michael Smith. FB Peyton Hills is also gone. At wideout, Arkansas lost its top 4 receivers (4 of which were their top rushers also). Lucas Adams is the leading returner but expect true frosh Joe Adams (orig. USC commit) to also figure in. Arkansas does return Rimington winner C Jonathan Luigs along with three other starters. Petrino's system will bring some changes to the blocking schemes.


Defense (4 RS 21RL)

The Razorbacks lost their top six tacklers off a defense that struggled against the pass. Leading returning tackler Freddie Fairchild was dismissed in June leaving an entirely new unit at LB. The d-line will be led by DT Malcolm Sheppard who had 10 TFL last season. Three other starters return on the line as well. The secondary lost all four starters off last year. CB Jerell Norton had five INTs and 11 pass break ups. This unit allowed close to 250 ypg and the lose of all four starters does not help. The Hogs are very strong up front, but need time to gel in the back seven.


Special Teams

Both kickers return but neither were spectacular in '07. Norton will likely return punts again but someone new will be back on kickoffs replacing the dangerous Jones and McFadden.


Recruiting - Link

Schedule

The non-conf schedule has longtime SWC rival @Texas on Sept 13. W.Illinois, UL-Monroe, and Tulsa visit. From the East, Arkansas draws vFlorida, @Kent, and @So. Carolina. The game @Miss State on Nov22 could sway the season.


Final Thoughts

Petrino's ugly exit to Arkansas makes him the bad guy in the SEC this season. At first I was wondering why Nutt would be pushed out, but then we they hired Petrino I said "oh, that's why!" A big myth about Petrino's offense is that he likes to throw a alot, but just like Spurrier the Arkansas HC is very balanced. This year will be rough with all the starters and no bowl is very possible.


Prediction:

Likely Loss: @Texas, @Auburn, vLSU

Likely Win: vW Ill, vULM

5-7, 2-6


Next up is SEC East #4 South Carolina


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