UPDATE: So, I apparently accidentally overwrote this post before. Thankfully, I was able to find a version to republish.
Apologies that the comments for this post now will appear on the LSU post that will be published in the next couple days. I may be able to reallocate them but for now, we’ll just have to wait. (comments have now been corrected) Again, my sincere apologies.
Today we review the tenth SEC team in our series, the Arkansas Razorbacks. Other reviews so far:
It’s tempting to say Bobby Petrino here, but in reviewing the roster, I’m not sure that’s true, so I’m choosing Jarius Wright. The Razorbacks lost three of the four man rotation at receiver last year, and those three combined for 2,009 yards receiving. Of them, SEC leading receiver Wright was the biggest piece, accounting for more than half that total. That’s a lot of reliable talent to have to replace. Cobi Hamilton is an excellent receiver, but Wright’s production will be difficult to duplicate.
Most Important Returning Player
Knile Davis. I initially put Tyler Wilson here because of all the uncertainty on this roster this season, Wilson isn’t just reliable, but arguably the best QB in the league. But, in this season, Davis — one of the question marks himself — is most important. Davis built an impressive reputation before being sidelined by injury for the 2011 season. The Razorbacks need Davis to return to the form that lead to closing out the 2010 season with five consecutive games over the century-mark (including an astounding three game streak where he topped 150 yards). In hindsight, it’s hard to believe that not only was Davis not the starter in 2010, but he was third string and didn’t get a start until both Dennis Johnson and Ronnie Wingo went down with injuries.
Highest Ranked Recruit
Bobby Petrino is not known as a great recruiter. His 2012 class was only ranked 11th in the SEC
last season. He did make one move, however, that Vols fans who follow recruiting will remember. Just one week before signing day, the ‘Backs flipped former Vols commit Otha Peters
. Ironically, he cited “concerns over coaching stability” as the reason for de-committing from Tennessee before signing with Arkansas. Just two months later, his new head coach would be fired and replaced with a guy whose contract stipulates he’s also out at the end of the season. Meanwhile, the coach whose future he was concerned with remains at Tennessee and has a realistic shot at a ten win season. Recruiting nonsense aside, the outside linebacker has ideal size to play right away in a 4-3 defense and very well could with the Razorbacks trying to replace Jerry Franklin
who played in the middle but was the only linebacker with any production on a mediocre defense.
Most Important Off-Season Acquisition
John L. Smith. It was expected that Arkansas would struggle to find a quality coach to replace the quickly dispatched Bobby Petrino after Spring practice. The comparisons to Alabama in 2003 were inevitable. It’s yet to be proven how successful, but Smith isn’t a bad option. He’s a bit eccentric to say the least (of all the team mottos I’ve heard, “Get Your Piss Hot” remains the strangest), but he’s had success (and admittedly, failure) as a BCS-level head coach and he served on this staff for a couple seasons so there’s no adjustment period for the players which can’t be underestimated.
Alabama, but LSU is a close second. Despite all the offseason tribulation, the expectation for Arkansas remains as a dark horse contender in the West, but the division is still considered the Tide and Bayou Bengals and then everyone else. Alabama gets the edge over LSU this season because the ‘Backs beat the Tigers just two seasons ago (in the third game of Davis’ 150+ yard streak), but have never beaten a Saban-led Bama squad.
Jacksonville State Gamecocks – W
Louisiana Monroe Warhawks – W
Alabama Crimson Tide – L
Rutgers Scarlet Knights- W
@ Texas A&M Aggies – W
@ Auburn Tigers – W
Kentucky Wildcats – W
Ole Miss Rebels – W
Tulsa Golden Hurricane – W
@ South Carolina Gamecocks – L
@ Mississippi State Bulldogs – W
LSU Tigers – L
Final Record – 9-3