Arkansas Preview |
Depth Chart |
all your tech stocks in 2001. You started watching Desperate
Housewives this year. You've only seen the final hour of
Wedding Crashers. Here's your chance to finally get in early on
something ... Arkansas.
Arkansas grew into a bit of a stale team under head coach
Houston Nutt. It was competitive, but it had problems with the big
boys over the last two years with six losses by a touchdown or less
against monster teams like Texas, LSU, Georgia (twice), and South
Carolina, but all anyone seems to remember is the loss to Vanderbilt
along with the 70-17 nail-biter against USC.
While the program might be a year away from being something special,
things are turning around in a big hurry thanks to a massive youth
movement and the landing of one, big, save-the-franchise quarterback
recruit; Mitch Mustain.
Head coach: Houston Nutt
9th year: 57-40
14th year overall: 93-62
Off. 26, Def. 24, ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 13
Best Hog Players
RB Darren McFadden,
2. LB Sam Olajabutu, Sr.
3. RB/KR Felix Jones, Soph.
4. CB Chris Houston, Jr.
5. QB Mitch Mustain, Fr.
6. FB Peyton Hillis, Jr.
7. OT Zac Tubbs, Sr.
8. DT Keith Jackson, Sr.
9. LB Freddie Fairchild, Soph.
10. DT Marcus Harrison, Jr.
SE Missouri State
at South Carolina
at Miss State
2005 Record: 4-7
SW Missouri St
at USC L 70-17
at Alabama L 24-13
Auburn L 34-17
at Georgia L 23-20
at Ole Miss
at LSU L 19-17
It's hard to win
close games when you play 17 true freshmen and don't have a steady
quarterback, but all the bumps and bruises suffered last year will pay
off as this is one of the SEC's up-and-coming teams. With all the speed
and all the talent Nutt and his staff have brought together, it's
Mustain who has reenergized the fan base. Nutt, who was on a major hot
seat after things started to regress, bought himself at least another
two years by landing the star, NFL prospect. Now there's hope that by
2007 at the earliest, Arkansas will be a major player again in the SEC
While the addition of a top-shelf quarterback might do wonders for the
passing game, it's the ground attack that'll make headlines. True
sophomores Darren McFadden and Felix Jones form one of the nation's best
1-2 rushing punches, and small, quick Michael Smith is healthy and ready
to be part of the mix. Add a fullback in Peyton Hillis who led the team
in catches last year and returns punts, and an offensive line with, for
all intents and purposes, five returning starters, and the Hogs should
The defense won't get a lot of publicity, but it'll be strong led be
undersized, but talented linebacker Sam Olajabutu and with a strong line
to work around. Chris Houston and Matterral Richardson are talented
corners who'll both see time in an NFL camp, and the safeties are
improved with speedy Michael Grant taking over the free safety job.
Yup, there's reason to get really, really excited about the future of
this team, but as always, it has to deal with a tough slate. While a 4-7
record wasn't acceptable last season, the team did have to play at USC,
at Alabama, Auburn, at Georgia, and at LSU. Find the team in America
outside of the top 15 that wouldn't have lost almost all five of those
If the Hogs can pull off an upset or two and all the young talent can
take a bit of a step up, this will be a dangerous SEC West team right
now. Just getting a winning record again would be nice, and then the
sky's the limit for next year.
The season opener against USC might be the
coming out party for this Hog team, but that's asking a lot. Vanderbilt
doesn't have Jay Cutler anymore, so a 2-1 record is likely going into
battles with Alabama and at Auburn. And then things ease up in a big way
playing SE Missouri State, Ole Miss and UL Monroe before things turn
back again going to South Carolina and playing Tennessee and LSU in the
final four games.
RB Darren McFadden. How good was McFadden's freshman season? He was only
the seventh freshman to ever crank out 1,000 yards in a season. When you
join a list that includes Herschel Walker and Emmitt Smith, you've done
something right. He has speed, power, and the hands to be used a bit at
Sam Olajabutu. He's only 5-9 and 229 pounds, but he plays and hits like
a much bigger defender. He has unlimited range and is always around the
ball, and he has turned into a whale of a pass rusher.
to a successful season:
Freshman QB Mitch Mustain. There's a possibility he might redshirt, but
for the team to come out rocking and rolling in 2007 with a team worthy
of playing for the SEC title, the new hot shot needs to get a year of
SEC seasoning under his belt. If he's not ready, or if he ends up
sitting and learning for a year, then Casey Dick, who came on at the end
of last season, has to get one of the nation's worst passing games
will be a success if ... the Hogs end up with a winning season and go to a bowl. There
can't be any slip ups against teams like Ole Miss and Vanderbilt, and
there has to be at least one big upset over a Tennessee or an Alabama
along the way. Another losing season wouldn't get Nutt fired, but it
would put him on double-secret probation for 2007.
Sept. 23 vs. Alabama. Arkansas has won two of the last three in the
series and with a road date at Auburn ahead, it'll need this win for a
likely 2-0 SEC start and to make a statement in the West race. It would
also be the type of win the team didn't/couldn't come up with last year
and show that the past really is in the past.
- Penalties: Arkansas 80 for 644 yards - Opponents 58 for 440 yards
- Fourth down conversions: Opponents 9 of 12 (75%) - Arkansas 11 of 25
- Passing yards per game: Opponents 209.4 - Arkansas 143.7
The Last Time
…played in a bowl game…2003 (Independence Bowl vs. Missouri)
…missed a bowl game…2005
…pitched a shutout…2002 (South Carolina)
…was shutout…1995 (LSU)
…scored 50 points…2004 (New Mexico State)
…won a conference title…1989 (SWC)
…had a 3,000-yard passer…never
…had a 1,000-yard rusher…2005 (Darren McFadden)
…had a 1,000-yard receiver…1998 (Anthony Lucas)
…had a first-round draft choice…2005 (WR Matt Jones)