2007 Arkansas Preview

Posted Jul 30, 2007

Preview 2007 Arkansas Razorbacks

Arkansas Razorbacks

Preview 2007

By Pete Fiutak

- 2007 Arkansas Offense Preview
| 2007Arkansas Defense Preview
2007 Arkansas Depth Chart | 2006 CFN Arkansas Preview 

2006 was a special year for Arkansas, with everything coming together in a perfect convergence of timing, help from the schedule, and the emergence of a jaw-dropping ground game. However, for a program seemingly on the verge of becoming something special, things took a sudden and nasty turn after a stunning ten-game winning streak. 

Head coach: Houston Nutt
10th year: 67-44
15th year overall: 103-66
Returning Lettermen: 48
Lettermen Lost: 21
Ten Best Hog Players
RB Darren McFadden, Jr.
2. RB/KR Felix Jones, Jr.
3. WR Marcus Monk, Sr.
4. DE Antwain Robinson, Jr.
5. DT Marcus Harrison, Sr.*
6. C Jonathan Luigs, Jr.
7. OG Robert Felton, Sr.
8. FS Michael Grant, Sr.
9. CB Matterral Richardson, Sr.
10. FB Peyton Hillis, Sr.

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 8-4

Sept. 1


Sept. 15

at Alabama

Sept. 22


Sept. 29

North Texas

Oct. 6

UT Chattanooga

Oct. 13


Oct. 20

at Ole Miss

Oct. 27


Nov. 3

South Carolina

Nov. 10

at Tennessee

Nov. 17

Mississippi State

Nov. 24

at LSU

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2006 Record: 10-4

Preview 2006 predicted wins

9/2 USC  L 50-14
9/9 Utah State W 20-0
9/16 at Vanderbilt W 21-19
9/23 Alabama W 24-23 2OT
10/7 at Auburn W 27-10
10/14 SE Missouri St W 63-7
10/21 Ole Miss W 38-3
10/28 UL Monroe W 44-10
11/4 at S. Carolina W 26-20
11/11 Tennessee W 31-14
11/18 at Miss State W 28-14
11/25 LSU L 31-26
12/2 SEC Championship
Florida L 38-28
1/1 Capital One Bowl
Wisconsin L 17-14

Before that nasty turn, the franchise quarterback, Mitch Mustain, had been the coup of a solid recruiting class, the offense was going high-tech with offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, the SEC West title had been won by a relatively young team with its best days ahead of it, Darren McFadden had finished second in the Heisman trophy voting, and then … boom. It all started to unravel, and Arkansas was no longer the SEC’s hot team.

There’s no shame whatsoever in losing to LSU, Florida and Wisconsin, along with USC to start the season, considering those four went a combined 47-6, with three BCS wins and a national championship among them.  But those defeats, along with the defection of Malzahn to Tulsa and the transfer of Mustain, raised doubts as to whether Arkansas could turn the corner under Houston Nutt and be a yearly contender and not just a one-year wonder.

The team of the SEC future is the team of the present. Instead of a diverse attack with Mustain as the ringleader, it’ll be the running game that once again makes or breaks the team, with McFadden, Felix Jones and a solid offensive line that should be fine after a bit of patching. Arkansas will continue to have one of the best home run-hitting ground games in the country, with just enough passing to get by. While that might not be enough to win the SEC West again, it should keep the team competitive against just about everyone on the tough schedule.

What to watch for on offense: Can Casey Dick throw the forward pass? Fine, so Mustain didn’t exactly light up the world as a true freshman, and was too impatient to wait around, improve and become the player everyone expected him to be. However, that means Dick has to be much, much better. Obviously the world will do everything humanly possible to stop the Hog ground game, and Dick has to make defenses pay by doing simple things like hitting the open receiver. Over the last three games, in the season’s crunch time, he completed just 22 of 60 passes, with two touchdowns and four interceptions. 

What to watch for on defense: Who’s going to fill the leadership role? The loss of tackle Keith Jackson and pass rusher extraordinaire Jamaal Anderson to the NFL leaves gaping holes up front, but the departure of heart-and-soul linebacker Sam Olajubutu will be even tougher to handle. The defense didn’t get enough credit for being occasionally dominant throughout last season, and while it has quickness and athleticism, it needs a leader.

The team will be far better if … the punting game is better. McFadden and Jones can score from anywhere on the field, but for a team that’s going to run the ball as much as this one, good field position is a priority. The Hogs have to average more than 32.5 net yards per punt and 7.2 yards per punt return.

The Schedule: A hot start is a must, with five home games in the first six and seven of the first nine, but they’re not all layups, as Auburn closes out the run. Actually, most of them are easy, including space-fillers against Troy, North Texas, UT Chattanooga and FIU. The road game in the group is at Alabama, which should set the tone for the SEC West season. Road dates at Tennessee and LSU late might be too much to overcome for another division crown.

Best Offensive Player: Junior RB Darren McFadden. One of the preseason favorites for the Heisman, McFadden is one of the nation’s best all-around players with home run-hitting ability every time he gets the ball in his hands. He’s big, tough and when he turns the corner and gets into space, it’s over. He’s also an effective quarterback when the offense gets funky and puts him under center in the Wildcat package. If possible, he’ll be asked to do even more for the offense this year.

Best Defensive Player: Junior DE Antwain Robinson. Was he effective because teams had to deal with Jamaal Anderson on the other side, or was it the other way around? Robinson is smaller than Anderson, who took off early for the NFL, but has the speed to be a regular in opposing backfields. However, he has to prove he can succeed when he’s targeted as the number one guy.

Key player to a successful season: Junior QB Casey Dick. With Mustain gone, the pressure is on Dick to be merely average. New offensive coordinator David Lee is working hard to make Dick more accurate and more consistent, and while the passing game will never resemble Hawaii’s, it could be extremely effective, with every defense focusing ten players on slowing down McFadden and Jones. Dick has to take advantage of every opportunity.

The season will be a success if ... the Hogs win nine games. Another West title might be too much to ask, considering the losses on defense and the way the SEC schedule plays out, but there are four gift-wrapped non-conference wins, games against the Mississippi schools that are must-wins, and winnable home games against Kentucky and South Carolina. It might take a bowl win to get to nine, which would be a nice achievement, but a double-digit victory total is a realistic dream.

Key game: Sept. 15 at Alabama. While Nick Saban’s team won’t be the toughest the Hogs will have to deal with, it will be a tone-setting SEC opener that each team will use to make a statement. With four home games to follow, a win in Tuscaloosa could mean a huge start.

2006 Fun Stats: 
- Sacks: Arkansas 37 for 262 yards; Opponents 9 for 70 yards
- Rushing yards per game: Arkansas 228.5; Opponents 114.6
- Arkansas 2nd quarter scoring: 143; 4th quarter scoring: 65


Related Stories
2007 Arkansas Preview - Offense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 30, 2007
2007 Arkansas Preview - Defense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 30, 2007
2007 Arkansas Preview - Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 30, 2007

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