Tuesday, July 18, 2017
Bilo's 2017 College Football Previews: Arkansas Razorbacks
The Razorbacks finished just 2-4 last season, which included a game against Virginia Tech where the Razorbacks just let the game get away from them. People talk about the hot seat that Kevin Sumlin is sitting on, but the seat has to be equally as warm for Bret Bielema, who has not been a shell of the coach that he was at Wisconsin. Can the Razorbacks turn it around in 2017, or will they be looking elsewhere for a coach in 2018?
What To Be Excited About: Offense
The offense is in capable hands with QB Austin Allen, who passed for 3430 yards with 25 TDs. The drawback is that he also tossed 15 INTs last fall, and that could be a recurring problem once again. He did complete 61.1% of his passes. If he can cut down on the miscues, Allen could be considered as a top flight college QB in a league that does not have many of those.
The line actually has a shot to be solid in 2017. Hjate Froholdt (LG), Frank Ragnow (C), Johnny Gibson (RG), and Brian Wallace (RT) are all upperclassmen this fall.
Cole Hedlund is back at PK after hitting 5/7 tries in limited duty last season. He should be abreakout star for the Razorbacks this season.
What To Be Concerned About: Offense
Rawleigh Williams III was forced to retire due to a second neck injury, and that leaves a huge hole in the run game. Devwah Whaley did rush for 602 yards as a freshman last fall as the primary backup, and now his his opportunity as a sophomore. He is promising, but now it has to translate to star power in the field. Depth behind him, and at QB, is not great.
The Razorbacks lost a ton of talent in the receiving corps, with four of the top five receivers having moved on. Jared Cornelius is the lone returnee who caught at least 20 passes last fall. He finished with 32 for 515 yards.
The LT spot could get interesting, as sophomore Colton Jackson and freshman Shane Clenin as the only two players on the current depth chart in the battle to start.
What To Be Excited About: Defense
The Hogs are in decent shape at CB, as both Henre' Toliver and Ryan Pulley are slated to start this fall. They combined for a total of 19 PBUs last season, with Toliver collecting 13 of them. They should be able to provide some relief from the back end of the defense. Josh Lidell is also back at FS, and added four more PBUs, and finished second on the team with 68 tackles.
Blake Johnson takes over at Punter, and although he does not have much on the old resume, he has a giant power leg, and he will likely flourish this fall.
What To Be Concerned About: Defense
McTelvin Agim is solid at DE, with 5.5 TFLs last season, but the rest of the line is untested and unproven. Austin Capps will start as a sophomore at DT, while Armon Watts gets a look at DE.
The LB group is in a bit of a shuffle, with the only surefire starter coming back being Randy Ramsey at the RZR position. He finished last fall with 5.5 TFLs, but finished with just 23 overall tackles.The rest of this group is competing for their jobs in camp. Josh Harris, Dre Greenlaw, and and Karl Roesler are all projected as starters, but it was an under productive group in 2016. Grant Morgan, De'Jon Harris, and Michael Taylor II are all pushing for time as well.
DeAndre Coley is back at Safety, but was very limited in production last fall. He finished with just 37 tackles, and was almost non-existent in pass defense.
2017 Schedule: 8/31 Florida A&M at Little Rock, 9/9 TCU, 9/23 Texas A&M at Arlington, 9/30 New Mexico State, 10/7 at South Carolina, 10/14 at Alabama, 10/21 Auburn, 10/28 at Ole Miss, 11/4 Coastal Carolina, 11/11 at LSU, 11/18 Mississippi State, 11/24 Missouri
This could be a long year for the Razorbacks. I feel comfortable in calling them a favorite in five games, at best. The QB situation, and a chunk of the line, are the only things that shine on offense, and the defense is a unit that completely failed overall a year ago when they gave up over 31 points per game. The staff seems to be playing musical chairs at LB and along the front line this fall camp, and those situations must be resolved by week two, when TCU comes to play. Bret Bielema could be in for some trouble with this team.