2008 CFN Arkansas Preview |
2008 Arkansas Depth
2007 CFN Arkansas Preview |
2006 CFN Arkansas
To hear the reaction
from the fans and media when Bobby Petrino bailed on the sinking
ship that is the Atlanta Falcons, you'd think he was responsible for
the rising cost in gas prices, the mortgage crisis, and was a close
personal friend of Osama Bin Laden.
Yeah, Petrino didn't exactly leave under the best of circumstances,
but the NFL is a heartless, cut-throat business that chews up
players and coaches and spits them out; Petrino simply won one for
the other side. But while the Falcons are a few years (at least)
from coming within shouting distance of being interesting again,
Arkansas can go from very good to a real, live title contender in a
Head coach: Bobby Petrino
1st year at Arkansas
5th year overall: 41-9
Off. 19, Def. 21, ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 25
Best Hog Players
1. C Jonathan Luigs, Sr.
2. OG Mitch Petrus, Sr.
3. DE Adrian Davis, Jr.
4. DE Antwain Robinson, Sr.
5. NT Ernest Mitchell, Sr.
6. DT Malcolm Sheppard, Jr.
7. TE D.J. Williams, Soph.
8. RB Michael Smith, Jr.
9. QB Casey Dick, Sr.
10. FS Rashaad Johnson, Jr.
2008 Record: 0-0
Sept. 6 UL Monroe (Little
Sept. 13 at Texas
Sept. 20 Alabama
Sept. 27 OPEN DATE
Oct. 4 Florida
Oct. 11 at Auburn
Oct. 18 at Kentucky
Oct. 25 Ole Miss
Nov. 1 Tulsa
Nov. 8 at South Carolina
Nov. 15 OPEN DATE
Nov. 22 at Mississippi State
Nov. 28 LSU (Little Rock)
2007 Record: 8-5
Sept. 15 at
Alabama L 41-38
Auburn L 9-7
Tennessee L 34-13
LSU W 50-48 3OT
Jan. 1 Missouri L 38-7
problem is that Petrino now has the reputation for having one
foot out the door. As Petrino was turning Louisville into a power, there
was the infamous meeting with Auburn officials about taking over for a
then-beleaguered Tommy Tuberville before things turned around for the
Tigers. Between leaving the Cardinals and ditching the Falcons, Arkansas
fans might be always be a little nervous, but for now, all seems right
with the world.
Looking beyond all the extra issues, Petrino is a fantastic head coach
who’ll take an Arkansas program that wasn’t that bad to begin with and
make it better. He has done a terrific job of recruiting in a limited
amount of time, with the biggest coup getting big, strong-armed QB Ryan
Mallett from Michigan. Petrino has a career college record of 41-9 and
had Louisville within a heartbeat of playing for a national title, and
now he has more to work with.
Losing Darren McFadden and Felix Jones doesn't help the cause, but while
it might seem like the pieces aren't there to run things the way Petrino
might like, this might be a case of some players being able to break
free of the shackles.
Casey Dick, whose job was to hand the ball off and to not screw up the
passing game, appears to have taken to the new passing attack. The O
line should still be among the best in the SEC, there are some quick,
talented runners ready to take over, the receivers are promising, even
if they aren't proven, and the defense that wasn't all that bad last
year should come up with even more of a pass rush.
However, while the new coaching staff and the emerging players should
keep the train rolling, there are too many big problems to keep this
from being a special year. The linebacking corps is a mess, all four
starters have to be replaced in the secondary, and yeah, while the skill
players are promising, the offense is basically starting from scratch.
The team has the right coach, good young talent, and a recent history of
success. Now it'll take a little time to hope everything comes together
so Arkansas can go to another level. And then it'll take Petrino to
What to watch for on offense: The new and improved Casey Dick. He
was much better last year than he was over the second half of 2006, but
Dick still wasn't exactly the type of quarterback who could step up and
beat a team by himself. That might change if this spring was any
indication. He threw for 18 touchdown passes with 10 interceptions last
season, but his job, to put it nicely, was to be a game-manager. Now
he's the main returning offensive weapon and he'll get to be a passing
quarterback and a true leader. He's experienced and he has been a quick
study, and now the offense is on his shoulders.
What to watch for on defense: The linebacker situation. If you
can play linebacker, send in your résumé. This was going to be a
potential problem spot going into the season anyway, and then Freddie
Fairchild, the team's leading returning tackler,
was booted of the team after getting charged with suspicion of
third-degree battery and false imprisonment. Likely middle man Wendel
Davis is also in hot water for an off-the-field incident. That means
veteran Elston Forte, redshirt freshman Jerry Franklin, and sophomore
Ryan Powers, all undersized but all athletic, will have to be stars from
The team will be far better if … it gets something out of
the punting game. Jeremy Davis is fine, but the Hogs struggled in
coverage and netted a mediocre 33 yards per kick. The bigger problem has
been punt returns after finishing last in the SEC and 107th in the
nation. Reggie Fish will get a shot as a returner, but the job might be
open to anyone who can produce.
It's an interesting schedule for Petrino's first season with just
enough breaks to prevent any sort of long losing streak. Starting off
against Western Illinois and UL Monroe will give the team time to
prepare for the road trip to Texas and the SEC opener against Alabama.
There's a much-needed late September open date before dealing with
Florida and at Auburn, and then things lighten up for a while. If the
Hogs can upset South Carolina in Columbia, there's a solid chance they
can win five in a row before closing out against LSU in a Friday game in
Best Offensive Player:
Senior C Jonathan Luigs. Depending on what scouting services you
like to follow, Luigs is either first or second on the list of top NFL
center prospects. The 2007 Rimington Award winner is the perfect
quarterback for a front line that has to learn how to block in the new
system. Pass protection will be at a premium, and it'll start in the
Best Defensive Player:
Adrian Davis. The NFL types are waiting for DE Antwain Robinson to blow
up and become the big-time player he has the potential to blossom into,
but for now it's Davis who has the skills to be the star speed rusher.
Either way, the Hogs are set up front with a scary-good group of pass
rushers. At least, they'd better be set, because the back seven needs as
much help as it can get.
Key player to a
Senior QB Casey Dick.
The offense might
be in a little bit of a holding pattern until Michigan transfer Ryan
Mallett is eligible next year, but until then it's Dick to be the one to
carry things. The Hogs will still be able to run the ball, but the
offense will will have issues if Dick isn't excellent.
The season will be a
... the Hogs get to eight wins again. No one's expecting a run for the
West title, and the schedule is decent enough to be really grouchy if
this isn't a bowl season. After going 8-5 last year, similar success
would mean Petrino was able to tread water and keep things from sliding
in a season of reshaping.
Sept. 20 vs. Alabama. A
key road game for the Tide to show that things are on the upswing in the
Nick Saban era. Bama won 41-38 last year, and now, after going to Texas
and with a week off to follow before dealing with Florida and a date at
Auburn, the Hogs might need to pull off a win in the SEC opener to avoid
2007 Fun Stats:
- Average yards per carry: Arkansas 6 – Opponents 4.1
- First half scoring: Arkansas 229 – Opponents 138
- Fumbles: Arkansas 37 (lost 15) – Opponents 20 (lost 10)