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2009 CFN Arkansas Preview |
2009 Arkansas Depth
2008 Hog Preview |
2007 Hog Preview |
Yes, Bobby Petrino is still the head coach at Arkansas.
haven't been any secret meetings with Auburn (at least not yet),
there haven't been any Dear John notes taped inside the players'
lockers (at least not yet), and he hasn't been rumored for any other
job openings (at least not yet). Despite being vilified by NFL
types, and destroyed by an NFL Network piece as the No. 1 coach that
should've stayed in college, Petrino really is a superior head
coach, and he's about to show everyone why.
Head coach: Bobby Petrino
2nd year at Arkansas: 5-7
56th year overall: 46-16
Off. 24, Def. 24, ST 2
Lettermen Lost: 17
Best Hog Players
1. DT Malcolm Sheppard, Sr.
2. RB Michael
3. TE D.J. Williams, Jr.
4. LB Jerry
5. DE Adrian Davis, Sr.
6. LB Freddy
7. LB Wendel Davis, Sr.
8. WR Joe Adams,
9. WR Lucas Miller, Sr.
10. QB Ryan Mallett, Soph.
9/5 Missouri State
9/12 OPEN DATE
9/26 at Alabama
10/3 Texas A&M (Arlington)
10/17 at Florida
10/24 at Ole Miss
10/31 Eastern Michigan
11/7 South Carolina
11/21 Miss State
11/28 at LSU
2008 Record: 5-7
Sept. 6 ULM (Litt.Rock) W
Sept. 13 at Texas PPD
Sept. 20 Alabama L 49-14
Sept. 27 at Texas L 52-10
Oct. 4 Florida L 38-7
Oct. 11 at Auburn W 25-22
Oct. 18 at Kentucky L 21-20
Oct. 25 Ole Miss L 23-21
Nov. 1 Tulsa W
Nov. 8 at So Carolina L 34-21
Nov. 15 OPEN DATE
Nov. 22 at Miss St
Nov. 28 LSU W 31-30
Lost in all the weeping and gnashing of teeth about
how Petrino left an Atlanta Falcon franchise that fired a head coach
(Jim Mora Jr., who made some off-the-cuff remarks about being interested
in the Washington Huskies head coaching job even though he was the head
man for the Falcons) basically because its feelings were hurt is that he
can punch his weight with any of the superstar coaches in the SEC.
Forget about last year's rebuilding season,
Petrino was 41-9 at Louisville and came close to getting the Cardinals
in the BCS Championship game. He knows how to coach, he knows how to
recruit, and he should know how to make Arkansas one of the hottest
stories of the 2009 SEC season.
While everyone will be focusing on Ole Miss, the new coaching changes at
Auburn and Mississippi State, the expected resurgence at LSU, and the
Alabama rebound from the two losses to end last year, Arkansas has the
ability and the potential to come up with a sneaky-huge year out of the
West with a little bit of work and a lot of breaks ... maybe.
Last year, the retooling Hogs went 5-7 with two of the losses (Ole Miss
and Mississippi State) that would've been wins if not for a few makeable
missed kicks. The three ugly blowout losses all came in a row against
national title-level BCS teams (Alabama, Texas and Florida), and three
of the seven defeats came by a total of seven points. On the flip side,
the Hogs should've lost to both Western Illinois and UL Monroe and ended
up winning all five of their games by a touchdown or less and by a total
of 16 points.
So which is it? Is Arkansas just a few tweaks away
from being special, or is it still in a retooling mode and another year
away from being in the hunt for the SEC title? It's probably a little
bit of both considering 18 starters are back and that doesn't include QB
Ryan Mallett, who in a little bit of time should be an NFL-caliber
passer. Forget about an SEC West title with games at Alabama, Florida,
Ole Miss and LSU, but that doesn't mean this team won't have the ability
to bomb away with anyone and get hot for a game or two to get everyone
The receiving corps is incredibly fast with huge
upside, the running backs, led by Michael Smith, are extremely quick,
the O line should be a little bit better, the special teams will be far
better with former Louisville and Michigan State head coach John L.
Smith coaching them, and the defense is loaded with talent and
athleticism, especially on the front seven.
Give it one more
year. In 2010, Mallett and his receiving corps will be unstoppable, the
defense will be loaded up with veterans, and Petrino will have all the
pieces in place he needs. In the meantime, don't be knocked off your
chair when the Hogs pull off one season-changing upset you won't see
coming. (Knock, knock. Who's there? October 17th in Gainesville.)
What to watch for on offense: QB Ryan Mallett. He was one of the
nation's top recruits a few years ago when he was picked up by Michigan,
and now he's ready to be, eventually, the SEC's best passer. He has the
arm, the 6-7 size, and the cock-sure attitude that screams franchise
quarterback. Arkansas will have its most vertical passing game in school
history with a fleet group of young receivers that are just waiting to
bust out and hit home runs. Mallett will make his share of big mistakes,
and the team will lose at least one game this year because he'll screw
up, but he'll also scare the bejeebers out of SEC defensive coordinators
with the way he'll open up the field.
What to watch for on defense: The new defensive backs. The depth
chart for the Arkansas secondary might as well be written in pencil
considering the new blood that's about to invigorate the pass defense.
There's Anthony Leon, a linebacker-sized playmaker who might end up in
the front seven, but could be a devastating, tone-setting strong safety.
The JUCO transfer and cousin of former Washington Redskin, the late Sean
Taylor, was a humongous coup for the program. Fellow JUCO transfer
Rudell Crum could be the team's shut-down, No. 1 corner the second he
sets foot off the bus, while corner Darius Winston was the team's top
recruit and was the best prospect to come out of Arkansas. Everyone
wanted all three of these DBs, and the Hogs got them.
The team will be far better if … the defense can get off
the field. There are several problems that need fixing from the woeful
pass protection to the punt return game to the penalties, but above all
else, the defense has to come up with more third down stops and more
takeaways. The offense will put up huge numbers, even though Mallett
will get sacked around 40 times, but the defense has to be better in big
situations after allowing teams to convert on 42% of their third down
chances and after forcing a mere five fumbles and 11 interceptions.
Considering the first game is
against Missouri State, Arkansas doesn't really start its season until
September 19th with the SEC opener against Georgia. Follow that up with
a trip to Alabama and Arkansas can either make a huge early statement in
the conference race or be knocked out. Going to Florida and Ole Miss in
back-to-back weeks is as tough as it gets, but things ease up in a big
way with home games against Eastern Michigan, South Carolina, Troy, and
Mississippi State to follow. While Arkansas always plays LSU tough,
going to Death Valley to close out the year isn't a plus.
Best Offensive Player:
Senior RB Michael Smith. Tight end D.J. Williams is
the one the NFL types will be looking at, and will be two inches too
short for their liking, and WR Joe Adams will be the team's new
gamebreaker. But the star will be Smith, the diminutive senior who
overcame off the field issues and a torn hamstring to put together a
1,072-yard season. Extremely fast, he can crank out big plays from
anywhere on the field and he can catch, too, finishing second on the
team with 32 grabs.
Best Defensive Player:
Senior DT Malcolm Sheppard. There were problems all
across the Arkansas defensive front, and Sheppard turned out to be a bit
of a surprise mainly because there were so many other storylines up
front. All Sheppard did was finish second on the team in tackles (68)
and lead the way with 6.5 sacks showing off tremendous interior
quickness and a peerless toughness against the run. He belongs in the
discussion of All-America caliber tackles.
Key player to a
successful season: Junior OTs Ray Dominguez and DeMarcus Love.
The Hog tackles are massive, almost too massive, and while they're built
to pound away for the running game, they need to be better in pass
protection. Arkansas allowed 46 sacks, only Hawaii (57) gave up more,
and with the immobile Ryan Mallett dropping back, the pass protection
has to be far, far better.
The season will be a
... the Hogs get to eight wins. That's the mark they hit in 2007,
Houston Nutt's last year, and this team might be better given a little
bit of time. The schedule is a bear with the brutal SEC road slate along
with a visit from Georgia, so there needs to be at least one big upset,
possibly two, and no slips to ensure a winning season. Eight wins would
be a nice stepping-stone to 2010, when the team should really rock.
Sept. 19 vs. Georgia.
It'll be the Arkansas SEC opener while Georgia will be coming off a date
with South Carolina and will have opened up the season at Oklahoma
State. The Hogs will have two weeks to prepare, not to mention the
opening day walk-through against Missouri State, and will look at this
as a statement game to set the tone for the season with a trip to
Alabama to follow.
2008 Fun Stats:
Opponents 46 for 287 yards - Arkansas 23 for 148 yards
quarter scoring: Opponents 125 - Arkansas 57
- Third down
conversions: Opponents 72-of-173 (42%) - Arkansas 65-176 (37%)