#SECPreviews: West #6 Arkansas Razorbacks
Listen, by all accounts this is probably a spot or two too low for a team that should be in the top 15-20 based on talent and scheme alone. But if a rising tide raises all ships, then a Crimson Tide and three or four more cinder blocks sink whatever’s tied to them.
What Happened Last Year?
Everything was going so well under Bobby Petrino, as they finished 2011 with an 11-2 record. Then, as you know,
holy hell we’ve been through this like a million times. At this point, its possible that we’ve killed the joke.
Instead, this is what happened in 2012:
After getting rid of crazy person John L. Smith, Bret Bielema came in and blew it up again in 2013, and in 2014 the ‘Hogs started to boar (see what I did there?) some fruit.
They lost their opener at Auburn, ran through their nonconference schedule, and lost to Texas &M in OT, Alabama by 1, (blown out by Georgia GODAWGS), and #1 Mississippi State by a touchdown on the road.
Then? Well, then things got weird. Back-to-back shutouts of LSU and Ole Miss put the Hawgs in position to win Georgia the East at Mizzou…and they blew it.
The point is, outside of Auburn and Georgia, this team had a legit claim to every game last year. Then they held Texas to 59 yards of total offense in the Texas Bowl.
Like I said, good team.
Three Key Games
Oct. 3, at Tennessee: Coming off of three should-be nonconference wins and a JerryWorld showdown with A&M, the Hawgs travel to Rocky Top. I’m being a little Georgia-homerish putting this on the top three (because Pig Sooey baby), but it could be all that separates Arkansas from a 5-0 start going into a trip to Alabama.
Oct 24, Auburn: Assuming a 2-1 start in SEC play after the above scenario, they get a bye to prep for Auburn, the only team coming to Fayetteville that should be favored against Arky. November gets tricky, but a win here plants the Hawgs firmly in the top 10 for at least a couple of weeks.
Nov. 28, Missouri: Just, please.
Five Players to Watch
HB’s Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins: No, I didn’t cheat and count these two as separate players. They are virtually the same, as their stat lines from 2014 will indicate:
Yep, the younger of the two was consistently somewhere between 90 and 95% as good as the elder statesman. THIS PROVES NOTHING!
LT Denver Kirkland: I know I put him here last year. I know I put C Mitch Smothers as well. Their O-line names are just off the hook. Kirkland stands 6’5 343, as one may recall Arkansas had an offensive line heavier than any NFL team last year.
LB Henre’ Toliver: Second SEC preview where I’ve gone with the “replace the All-American” card, but Toliver, at 6’1 186, seems to have his work cut out for him replacing Martrell Spaight’s season.
QB Brandon Allen: Hate to just throw the QB in here, but if he improves, I WAY undersold Arkansas.
S Rohan Gaines: The secondary returns three starters, and Gaines has 37 starts under his belt. He anchored the unit which allowed just 55% completions and 5.1 yards per pass last year.