2013 Arkansas Spring Football Analysis
Arkansas Razorbacks 2013 ...
Head Coach: Bret Bielema
Why To Be Excited ... The Hogs needed a new head coach, and it got one who knows how to win and win big with an attitude – and without a ton of four and five-star talents. Bret Bielema was one of the hottest young head coaching prospects in the game when Barry Alvarez brought him to Wisconsin, and now he’s established and with a terrific track record. Everyone knows about the power offense, but he’s a defensive coach. With nine starters back on the Hog D – even one that struggled so badly in almost all phases – the chance will be there to hit the ground running with a few tweaks. There’s talent in a very, very young secondary that started three underclassmen and gets all four starters back, while the defensive line welcomes back three starters to go along with linebackers Otha Peters and A.J. Turner, fresh off their true freshmen season.
| 2013 Schedule|
9/14 Southern Miss
9/21 at Rutgers
9/28 Texas A&M
10/5 at Florida
10/12 South Carolina
10/19 at Alabama
10/26 OPEN DATE
11/9 at Ole Miss
11/16 OPEN DATE
11/23 Miss State
11/30 at LSU
Why To Be Grouchy ... Bielema never backs away from a challenge, but he has a huge one as he tries to navigate his way through the SEC West waters with an undermanned team full of offensive newcomers. Quarterback Tyler Wilson – gone. Running backs Dennis Johnson and Knile Davis – gone. Leading receiver Cobi Hamilton and tight end Chris Gragg – gone and gone. The offensive line might get three starters back, but it needs to show it can blast away for the running game like Bielema wants. The biggest loss next to Wilson is punter Dylan Breeding, one of the few bright spots last season after helping the Hog punting game averaged close to 41 yards per blast.
What Needs Working On ... First and foremost, beyond everything else, Arkansas has to get on the right side of the turnover margin. Wisconsin was fantastic in the Bielema era at hanging on to the ball and keeping the mistakes to a minimum, and if there’s going to be any sort of hope for a quick turnaround, Arkansas needs stop making mistakes and start forcing more after giving up the ball 31 times and coming up with a pathetic 12 takeaways. Three of the six interceptions and five of the takeaways came against Auburn, while the offense gave up two or more turnovers in every game except for the win over Kentucky.
Non-Conference Games: Louisiana, Samford, Southern Miss, at Rutgers
Games Against The East: at Florida, South Carolina
Realistic Best Case Record: 9-3
Worst Case Record: 3-9
Likely Finish: 5-7
Pre-Preseason Projected Wins: Louisiana, Samford, Southern Miss, Auburn, Mississippi State
Pre-Preseason Projected Losses: at Rutgers, Texas A&M, at Florida, South Carolina, at Alabama, at Ole Miss, at LSU
Schedule Analysis: Will Bret Bielema ever deal with a tough non-conference schedule? Going to Rutgers is going to be tough, but that comes after starting out the year against Louisiana, Samford and Southern Miss. Considering the Hogs get a horrendous scheduling break having to face Florida and South Carolina from the East, a soft early slate if forgivable.
Considering Rutgers could end up winning the Big East, it’s saying something that the date in Piscataway could be the easiest in a fun five-game stretch. Arkansas comes home to kick off the SEC season with Texas A&M before going to Florida, coming back for South Carolina, and then enjoying a lovely trip to Alabama. The off week is a must to gear it back up again for a rough November starting out with Auburn and going to Ole Miss before getting another bye week to get ready for Mississippi State and the regular season finale at LSU.
Team Concerns For 2013: Running the ball? Arkansas? With Knile
Davis and Dennis Johnson, the Hogs still had the SEC's worst ground game
- both backs are gone. Replacing quarterback Tyler Wilson and top receiver Cobi Hamilton will be a priority this offseason for an offense that put up yards, but wasn't effecting. The team needs to be far better at turnover margin and has to be night-and-day tighter in the secondary after getting bombed on for an SEC-worst 286 yards per game. The return game has to be far better after averaging a pedestrian 18.26 yards per kickoff and 5.9 yards per punt return.
The 2013 Class Is Heavy On ... JUCO players for the defensive back seven. It's not like Bret Bielema went heavy on JUCO types at Wisconsin, but he's trying to beef up the depth right away, at least on defense, getting linebackers Martrell Spaight and Myke Tavarres along with corners Carrol Washington and Tiquention Coleman. It's Bielema, so is there going to be beef for the offensive line? A little bit with JUCO transfer John McLure a 320-pound masher and 6-10 tackle prospect Dan Skipper out of Colorado. Tight end Hunter Henry might be the best prospect, but getting superstar running back prospect Alex Collins
- bizarre story and all - was the huge coup for the program.
2012 CFN Recruiting Ranking:
19. That Class Was Heavy On ... The Hogs are loaded just about everywhere, but they need to start stockpiling numbers at running back for down the road and have to keep feeding the receiving corps with more and more options. An upgrade at corner isn’t a must this year, but it will be next season, and finding a few pass rushers is a priority. Overall, no matter what the position, Arkansas needs as many great prospects as possible to keep up the arms race with the other star programs in the West.
2011 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 16. That Class Was Heavy On ... Offensive tackle. Last year’s class was the big one for Bobby Petrino, but this one isn’t all that far off. The defensive line got an infusion of talent with JUCO transfer tackle Robert Thomas might be an anchor right away, and the back seven got some help with safety Kelvin Fisher and corner Tevin Mitchel sure to be stars in a few years. The key to the class was the tremendous haul of receivers, including Quinta Funderburk and Keante Minor, and the tackles with seven prospects including Brey Cook, who’s destined to be an all-star, and promising Andrew Peterson and Mitch Smothers.
2010 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 31. That Class Was
Heavy On ... Talent. Last
season Bobby Petrino's class was heavy on live
bodies to create more competition and to build
better depth, especially on the defensive line. This
year's class was about upgrading the overall talent
level with the main focus on receiver. Marquel Wade
and Julian Horton should thrive in Petrino's system,
while QB Jacoby Walker will get a few years to groom
to be ready to be in the mix by 2012. Calvin Barnett
is the 305-pound defensive tackle prospect to work
the line around, Brad Hefley will end up being the
leader of the linebacking corps, and Eric Bennett is
a nice looking corner.
2009 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 23. That Class Was
Heavy On ... defensive backs. The defensive line got a ton of bodies, but few of them were standout prospects. The offense got more players to fit the Bobby Petrino style with the line getting the biggest boost. However, the coaching staff mostly loaded up in the secondary with six nice prospects led by corner Darius Winston and JUCO transfers Anthony Leon, Rudell Crim and Andru Stewart.