College Football Preview: The 2014 Arkansas Razorbacks
Can The Arkansas Razorbacks Bounce Back from a Miserable 2013?
2014 College Football Preview
Odds to Win National Championship: 150-1 See the Latest Odds
Overview: The Arkansas Razorbacks didn’t exactly fulfill expectations with a 3-9 season in the first year under head coach Bret Bielema. The Razorbacks ended the season with nine straight losses and came up short of a bowl game for the second straight year. While things were probably worse than expected, fans must realize that they are in the SEC West and it may take some time before the Razorbacks can take that next step. Still, Arkansas has to expect better this season.
Offense: The offense will once again go as far as running back Alex Collins can carry it. Collins rushed for more than 1,000 yards as a true-freshman and is certainly going to see a larger workload this season. He can do things and make games quite interesting once he gets going. At quarterback, Brandon Allen has to be better than the 49.6 completion percentage and 1,552 passing yards from a season ago. College football has been a quarterback’s league and without a decent signal-caller, it’s going to be tough to balance things out offensively for Arkansas. The good news is that Bielema is starting to build one of his traditional offensive lines and that should help this unit moving forward.
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Defense: While the Arkansas defense did lose sack-leader Chris Smith, Trey Flowers does return to anchor what should be a solid defensive line. Robb Smith is the new defensive coordinator for the Razorbacks, and he has no problem being aggressive and sending blitzes when you least expect it. That should result in big sack numbers for Arkansas, giving them one of the better defensive fronts in the SEC. It also helps that the secondary has experienced players such as Alan Turner and Rohan Gaines holding down the fort. One player to watch is corner Tevin Mitchel, who should finally be ready to have his breakout season. The Razorbacks have the pieces to be a solid defense in the SEC. Remember, this unit ranked ninth in the conference last season and returns a lot of key guys.
Special Teams: Sam Irwin-Hill was one of the best punters in the league last season with an average of 44.30 yards per attempt. Cole Hedlund has quite the leg and he’ll likely be kicking the field goas this season for the Razorbacks.
Outlook: When you have a running game and a defensive line in the SEC, you can be competitive with the best of them. Does that mean Arkansas can make an Auburn-like run this year? I highly doubt it. However, Arkansas can be a big surprise team this season, especially with only four true road games. The Razorbacks have a few key pieces in place that can do damage and win games you probably weren’t expecting. This team can make you big money if you play your spots right.