2008 Arkansas Razorbacks Football Preview
Arkansas 2007 Record: (8-5, 4-4 SEC)
2007 Bowl: Cotton Bowl vs. Missouri (L 7-38)
Arkansas Head Coach: Bobby Petrino (1st year at Arkansas, 41-9 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Paul Petrino
Defensive Coordinator: Willy Robinson
Returning Leaders for Arkansas:
Other Key Returnees: TE Andrew Davie, DE Adrian Davis, LB Elston Forte, C Jonathan Luigs, DT Ernest Mitchell, G Mitch Petrus, DE Malcolm Sheppard, OT Jose Valdez
Key Losses: LB Weston Dacus, G Robert Felton, OT Nate Garner, CB Michael Grant, DT Marcus Harrison, S Matt Hewitt, FB Peyton Hillis, WR Robert Johnson, RB Felix Jones, RB Darren McFadden, WR Marcus Monk, CB Matterral Richardson, S Kevin Woods
One thing is for sure, Arkansas is going to throw a lot more with Coach Bobby Petrino in charge and with Darren McFadden and Felix Jones in the NFL. And for now the pressure is on quarterback Casey Dick to lead the offense. The Razorbacks did not throw much last season with McFadden and Felix in the backfield, but Dick still did not prove that he was a consistent passer. He did throw for 404 yards and a couple touchdowns in the spring game, but that might not last all season long.
Arkansas has some rebuilding to do, but having solid lines on both sides of the ball should help the rest of the team adjust to some major changes. Center Jonathan Luigs anchors an offensive line that only gave up one sack per game last season. With Malcolm Sheppard and Jose Valdez also back, the Razorbacks line will be the strength of the offense. And with such a good line, life without McFadden and Jones will not be as bad as it seems. Running back Michael Smith is small and quick and could be the next explosive Arkansas back. On the defensive side of the ball, the line returns three starters. Malcolm Sheppard and Adrian Davis earned some very valuable experience last year and the ends will do a better job pressuring the quarterback than they did last season.
Even if Dick can become a consistent passer, he will need to find some new receivers. Robert Johnson and Marcus Monk are gone and so is fullback Peyton Hillis who led the team with 49 receptions for 537 yards last season. Dick will need wide receiver Crosby Tuck and tight end Ben Cleveland to stay healthy and hope Lucas Miller and Reggie Fish can be consistent producers. The defense has a lot of problems, but none might be worse than the secondary where all four starters need to be replaced. There are a few somewhat experienced players like junior cornerback Jerell Norton and senior free safety Walner Leandre, but the pass defense will take a huge hit compared to last year.
The Bottom Line for the Razorbacks:
This will be a rebuilding year in Fayetteville. The team needs some time to adjust to the new staff and some time to adjust to losing key players on both sides of the ball. If Michigan transfer Ryan Mallett’s appeal to play immediately was granted, the quarterback would have sparked the offense and the hopes of the Razorbacks, but that will have to wait until next year.
2007 Arkansas Razorbacks Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 286.54 (4th in nation, 1st in conference)
Passing Offense: 163.46 (112, 11)
Total Offense: 450.00 (17, 2)
Scoring Offense: 37.31 (13, 3)
Rushing Defense: 160.23 (64, 8)
Pass Defense: 205.38 (23, 6)
Total Defense: 365.62 (46, 8)
Scoring Defense: 26.54 (54, 9)
Turnover Margin: .31 (34, 5)
Sacks: 1.85 (73, 5)
Sacks Allowed: 1.00 (5, 2)
By Joel Welser
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