2010 Record: (10-3, 6-2 in SEC)
Head Coach: Bobby Petrino (23-15 at Arkansas, 64-23 All-Time)
Last Bowl Game: 2010/2011 Sugar Bowl (lost to Ohio State 31-26)*
Final 2010/2011 AP Ranking: #12
Final 2010/2011 CFBZ Ranking: #12
9/3: Missouri State (2009 result: won 48-10)
9/10: New Mexico
9/17: Troy (2009 result: won 56-20)
9/24: at Alabama (2010 result: lost 24-20)
10/1: Texas A&M (2010 result: won 24-17)
10/8: Auburn (2010 result: lost 65-43)
10/22: at Ole Miss (2010 result: won 38-24)
10/29: at Vanderbilt (2010 result: won 49-14)
11/5: South Carolina (2010 result: won 41-20)
11/19: Mississippi State (2010 result: won 38-31 2OT)
11/25: at LSU (2010 result: won 31-23)
Early Game Previews:
2010 Offensive Statistics:
Scoring: 36.5 ppg (1st in SEC, 17th in Nation)
Rushing Yds/Game: 148.85 yds/game (9th in SEC, 69th in Nation)
Passing Yds/Game: 333.7 yds/game (1st in SEC, 4th in Nation)
Total Yds/Game: 482.5 yds/game (2nd in SEC, 9th in Nation)
2010 Defensive Statistics:
Scoring: 23.4 ppg (7th in SEC, 47th in Nation)
Rushing Yds/Game: 162.62 yds/game (10th in SEC, 70th in Nation)
Passing Yds/Game: 185.3 yds/game (6th in SEC, 20th in Nation)
Total Yds/Game: 347.9 yds/game (5th in SEC, 36th in Nation)
2010 Misc Stats:
Turnover Margin: +0.08 per game (8th in SEC, 50th in Nation)
Penalties: 63.9 yds/game (last in SEC, 106th in Nation)
Top Returning Statistical Leaders:
Passing: QB Tyler Wilson, Jr (34 of 51 for 453 yds, 4 TD, 3 INT)
Rushing: RB Ronnie Wingo, Jr (41 for 253 yds, 6.1 ypc, 1 TD)*
Receiving: WR Joe Adams, Sr (50 rec for 813 yds, 6 TD)
Tackles: LB Jerry Franklin, Sr (95)
Sacks: DE Jake Bequette, Sr (7.0)
Interceptions: S Tramain Thomas, Sr (3)
*Knile Davis and Broderick Green both are out for the season
Athlon Sports: Cotton (vs Oklahoma State)
Phil Steele: Cotton (vs Texas)
Bobby Petrino took over at Arkansas and posted a 5-7 record in his first season. Since then his teams have improved each year going 8-5 in 2009 and 10-2 last season. Petrino's debut team at Arkansas only averaged 20 points per game but since then they have posted 36 points per game in back to back years. In addition to the offensive improvement the Hogs have also improved on the defensive side of the football as they went from allowing 31 points per game in 2008 to 23 in 2010. Many fans point to this year as the year that Arkansas could really break through and get back to the SEC Championship Game for the first time since 2006. Another benchmark Arkansas will try to reach is to have back-to-back double-digit wins for the first time since the 1988 and 1989 seasons.
The Arkansas buzz seems to have taken a slight hit with the loss of star RB Knile Davis for the season. Davis was a late bloomer last year as he didn't carry the ball more than six times in a single game until the fifth game of the season. It was against Ole Miss that he really broke through with 22 attempts for 176 yards and 3 TDs. After that Davis reeled off hundred yards games in five of the last six that he played. In his absence, the Hogs will turn to Ronnie Wingo and Dennis Johnson as their go to backs with Johnson himself coming off of an injury last season. The emergence of Davis definitely gave the Hogs a more balanced offense and it will be important for Wingo or Johnson to emerge to give new starting QB Tyler Wilson time to adjust to his new role. Another area that the Hogs will need to find a new go-to guy at is TE. D.J. Williams caught 54 passes last year but he has moved on and his role will need to be filled to help out Wilson on his check downs. The good news for Wilson is that his WR group has to be the most talented in the Nation. Joe Adams, Jarius Wright, Greg Childs and Cobi Hamilton anchor the WR group that just keeps coming at you. I think the Razorbacks are in good hands at QB with Wilson and are no doubt stocked at WR. The areas of concern are RB, the Offensive Line (which returns only 49 career starts) and finding a replacement for Williams at TE.
On defense the Razorbacks have a star on each level of the defense. At DE they have Jake Bequette, at LB they have Jerry Franklin (and Jerico Nelson) and in the backfield they have safety Tramain Thomas. The biggest question-mark for Arkansas on defense is the ability to stop the run. The Hogs finished 10th in the SEC last year in rushing yards allowed and they gave up 200 or more yards in all three games that they lost last year (227 to Bama, 330 to Auburn and 225 to Ohio State).
On paper this looked like the best Arkanasas team under Petrino, but with the injury to Knile Davis that is now called into question. An injury to one player isn't always a cause for a downturn in projections for a team but if Johnson and/or Wingo don't step up to fill the majority of the production the Hogs lost then the Hogs could be in for a more difficult season than originally anticipated. Having balance is very important when you have to navigate the toughest division of the toughest conference in the Nation. To get an inside take on the Arkansas Razorbacks we caught up with BearlyDoug of GridironHistory.com. He is also the Webmaster and Co-Technical Administrator of Hogville.Net, the largest Razorback fan site on the internet.
Arkansas defense has improved every year under Bobby Petrino and has some real talent in Jake Bequette, Jerry Franklin and Tramain Thomas. Who are the other guys that need to step up on defense for the Hogs to reach their full capability this year?
We've got Zach Stadther (SR) and Robert Thomas (JuCo-SO) that will have pivotal roles this year. This will actually be Robert's first year as a Hog. Even with his size (6'3", 308#), the guy can flat out MOVE.
Zach will team up with Jake as the veterans of the DE/DT and help bring the younger guys up to speed. Now entering their fourth year in the Petrino system, these guys have been through it all, and many are going to look to them for guidance and leadership. The defense actually has more returning starters than the Offense does.
Willy Robinson has taken quite a beating from the Razorback Faithful over the past couple years. One thing that cannot be argued, though, is just how much our defense has improved under his tutelage. See additional Arkansas statistical graphic here.
Obviously the Knile Davis injury is a big blow to the Razorbacks. What do Ronnie Wingo and Dennis Johnson bring to the table?
With Knile Davis (2010 Stats: Rushing - 1322 yards, 13 TD (Most in SEC for any RB, 2010) ~ Passing - 136 yards, 1 TD) out for the season due to a fractured ankle in practice, I'm pretty sure that many teams are secretly cheering that they will not have to defend against him.
Unfortunately, many people seem to have forgotten Dennis Johnson's contributions before he went down on injury last year. He played the first two teams and was poised to bring in numbers comparable to Knile.
We also have Ronnie Wingo who is not the same player that he was last year. There is a level of intensity that he's exhibited during practice that was not there at any point last year.
This is not the same Razorback team that was coached by Houston Nutt. In the years past, we've always had concerns about depth, size, skill, speed and stamina. Now that we're in Year 4 of the Petrino era, we no longer have concerns about depth, skill, speed and stamina. We're getting the size issues addressed.
Just because the Hogs lost a key player does not mean that people should take them lightly. Dennis Johnson will bring his experience back to the table; Ronnie is just salivating (nee slobbering) to make opposing defenses work even harder.
Tyler Wilson is taking over for Ryan Mallett and he has a lot of talent surrounding him. What does he bring to the table and what are your expectations for him this year?
Don't get me wrong about Ryan; I am appreciative of what he did for the Hog program. Tyler's been under Petrino's guidance for a year longer, so he's got a better feel for the game plans, and is very well respected by the team. Tyler may not have the rocket speed that Mallett has, HOWEVER, he can go the distance, as evidenced by last year's Auburn Game.
Look at the segments at the 1:18 mark (40 yarder), 3:15 mark (40+ yarder), 3:50 mark (50+ yarder).
Tyler is an EXTREMELY mobile quarterback, equally comfortable in the pocket or when forced out, can run and gun. Some of the passes he's done (as seen in the video above) are insane and look very kid-like, but they connect. He's also exceptionally gifted at reading defenses and can quickly counter blitzes or shifts. Is he perfect? No, but that's mostly because he's played a backup QB role and hasn't seen much live game experience.
He's still going to be quite a threat to contend with. Never mind the fact that we have an equally talented Brandon Mitchell in the wings. I'm certain that we've got plays that are specifically designed for Mitchell running the show that opponents haven't been able to prepare for.
I expect Tyler to continue to do what he does best, though I do expect a few dust ups this year. Thank goodness our first three games are cupcakes/rent-a-wins. We can flesh out most of the issues by the time September 24th comes around.
Arkansas has a very talented team this year but also has a very tough schedule. Why do you think Arkansas has a chance to make a run at the National Championship this year?
If I recall correctly, Arkansas' SOSranking is in the top 25. Phil Steele has us at #20, TeamRankings.com has us at #3, CollegeFootballPoll.com has us at #13. This year's schedule is going to be brutal this year. In the SEC West, you have four teams that are expected to contend for BCS Bowl berths: Alabama, Arkansas, LSU and Mississippi State. Auburn will have a major rebuilding task ahead of them, and Ole Miss is not relevant.
See additional schedule graphic here
With that being said, the first critical game of this year is going to be the one that matters more than any game we have, and will be what defines our season. Come hell or high water, on September 24th, 2011, Alabama and Arkansas will bring absolutely EVERYTHING to the field in Tuscaloosa. With Alabama's On Field win lead sitting at 6-3 over Arkansas (3-3 after NCAA forfeits), Arkansas has a HUGE axe to grind. After narrowly losing last year's game, I expect this one to be equally close (not even a touchdown will separate the final score). Alabama is returning a mostly veteran OLine while breaking in a brand spanking new QB. Arkansas was able to punch some pretty big holes in the DLine last year, though. Given how much Arkansas Defense has improved and the fact that we're returning a very veteran OLine (2012-2013 is going to be a bit of a rebuilding year, though we should still be pretty well stacked in terms of depth and talent), if we can avoid getting pounded by Alabama's D, we should be able to hold Alabama off with our Offensive assault to get out of Tuscaloosa with a Win.
Our next test is going to be Texas A&M. Last year, aTm gave us a couple scares, though we did settle it down in the second half. I expect aTm to be much better prepared this year, though they have a pretty ugly couple games before we meet up in Arlington. With a battle tested Defense gaining more and more confidence, I think we'll easily leave Arlington very happy.
Our next test, surprisingly, will not be Auburn (We have them at home this year). It will be Mississippi State. It took us TWO overtimes to put them away last year. Our main saving grace is that we have MSU at War Memorial stadium this year; the crowd is so raucous and LOUD that it automatically adds two touchdowns to the score. MSU has their cowbells (which adds points in their favor), we have WMS. This will not be a HIGH scoring game, but the Bulldogs are going back to their pen sulking. We just need to stay healthy through this point.
Our final test is LSU... at Baton Rouge. We're 2-8-1 at Baton Rouge (the tie was on 1906-Nov-29). The Wins came in 1993 and 2007. The last two games we've played at Baton Rouge have both been Overtime games; both games were decided by 3 points or less. Bobby Petrino, however, is 2-1 against LSU now. LSU has always made inane plays (see last year's clock management fiasco by Les "I do less with more" Miles at WMS, which allowed us to score a touchdown right before halftime in literally 13 seconds. LSU is as close to a rivalry game that we have within the SEC, so this is usually also for determining 1st or 2nd place in the SEC West, as well as determining who gets to go to the Sugar Bowl.
The odds are stacked up against us, based on past history. The old adage of "Those who do not learn from past history are doomed to repeat it" comes to mind. Seems that we've finally learned from past history and we're eliminating those mistakes. I cannot see us leaving Baton Rouge without a Win in hand.
Outside of those four games, every other opponent we face is 100% beatable. Arkansas has never lost against Missouri State. New Mexico should pose no threat against an SEC team. Troy has never beaten Arkansas (though they do seem to have one game a year they win one they shouldn't). Auburn is in a down year without their all $tar quarterback. Ole Hootie has finally figured out how to beat himself, and won't need our help. Vanderbilt is in a good upswing, however, it's still Vanderbilt. Steve Spurrier last won in Fayetteville in 2005. Tennessee is in a MAJOR rebuild this year and will defeat themselves with penalties (Lane Kiffin really did a number in his short 1 year tenure).
Every one of this is extremely winnable. If we take care of Alabama, especially in Tuscaloosa, we should have enough confidence to go undefeated. Much to everyone's chagrin, whomever wins the Alabama/Arkansas game, that person WILL play in Atlanta in December and in the BCS NCG in January.
Besides Bama, LSU and Texas A&M what do you see as the biggest games on the schedule this year?
Mississippi State has to be the only other game I am concerned about (I'm concerned about Bama, MSU and LSU, in that order. aTm isn't even on my radar). Dan Mullen is running an EXCEPTIONAL program (He went 9-4 his SECOND season). I would be extremely surprised to see that he doesn't go 10-3 this year. MSU and LSU will be battling for the #3/#4 spots in the SECWest and #4/#5 in the SEC overall. These guys ALMOST had our number last year. I do NOT want to see that situation repeat again. We have to make sure our defense stays on its toes and shuts down MSU's OLine. Don't leave any gaps open (that's what got us last year).
What is your gut feeling on the final record for the 2011 season and what makes the season successful in your eyes?
It's far easier to identify what would be successful this year than trying to predict the final record. Given the talent we have this year, a realistic expectation would be another Nawlins appearance at the Sugar Bowl where we redeem ourselves. If we settle down and take care of business, we can run the gauntlet and go undefeated. It's going to take a few stars lining up for us just right, though.
The last time we had an 11 win season (We've never had a 12 win season) was in 1977. The time before that? 1964 (Gee isn't that when we laid claim to the National Championship... the same thing Alabama claimed for that year, as well?). That's it. Realistically, I think we'll be 11-2 or better this year.
In closing, we have our work cut out for us. We have a few credible threats on our climb to the top. And I'm certain that people would say this year was a fluke. News flash: When Petrino was announced as our coach in 2007, I boldly stated that we would be in the NCG picture within 3 years and playing within 5. Arkansas has ARRIVED. If you're not helping us, you're in our way. Move or get tusked. Your choice.
CFBZ Top 25
#7 Arkansas Razorbacks
2011 Team Previews