Besides watching a lot of game film, I am also constantly on the internet searching for info or researching a particular topic.
Arkansas head football coach Bret Bielema doesn’t seem to be a very well liked guy out there for
some reason. There are a lot of tough guys that love to hide behind the anonymity of the internet that have not very kind things to say about the man. Some of that may be because he kind of surprised the world by leaving Wisconsin and taking the Arkansas job.
Regardless of how you feel about Bielema, the man can coach. I love the type of power football that he seems to love as well.
Being unable to stop a good power running game is humiliating for your opponents and Bielema works that to perfection.
Bielema inherited a program in Fayetteville, Arkansas that was a mess. He has only 10 wins through 2 seasons against 15 losses, but as far as I am concerned the Arkansas Razorbacks were about as good as anyone in the nation at the end of last season.
This is season number three for Bielema at Arkansas and this should by far be his best.
One of the biggest reason for optimism at Arkansas is that 4 starters return up front for the Hogs. A couple of the returning starters have changed positions.
Right Guard Denver Kirkland has been their best Offensive Lineman for the past 2 seasons. Coming in as a true freshman from Miami, Kirkland was inserted into the lineup immediately and did well. Kirkland has been moved to the all important Left Tackle position for the 2015 season which will no doubt be his last in college football before moving on to the NFL. He will probably project back to guard in the NFL but I definitely understand moving your best Offensive Lineman to Left Tackle.
Last year’s Left Tackle was 6 foot 10 inch Dan Skipper and he has moved to the Right Tackle spot. He did nothing wrong at Left Tackle, it’s just a matter of getting your best players on the field and that’s what the Razorbacks are attempting to do.
Sebastion Tertola returns at Offensive Guard and Mitch Smothers returns at Center. This Offensive Line is huge and talented.
Proof of that talent is the return of two 1,000 yard rushers in Jonathon Williams and Alex Collins. Between the two of them, they ran for an eye popping 2,290 yards a year ago.
They are back and ready to prove last year was no fluke.
Kody Walker played Fullback last season and at 6-2, 250 he ran for 149 yards. Walker wants to play Tailback and he looked good there in the Spring. He is a big man that can run and the Fullback gets mostly blocking duty in today’s offenses if he is even on the field at all.
At Wide Receiver, the Pigs have star Keon Hatcher returning and he was their leading receiver a year ago with 43 catches.
Also returning, is All SEC Tight End, Hunter Henry who is one of the country’s best. The Hogs are deep at both Wide Receiver and Tight End. Junior Tight End Jeremy Sprinkle is an intriguing
prospect that has just now started to come on strong. Sprinkle came into Arkansas weighing about 205 pounds but is now up to around 245 without losing any speed. He looks like a future star.
There was a nice crowd at the Arkansas Spring Game which means spirits are high in Fayetteville and another big reason for that is the return of senior Quarterback Brandon Allen.
Allen continued to get better as the 2014 season wore on and he improved yet again during the Spring.
Optimism is high for this senior to have a fantastic season.
Helping matters still more is the arrival of new Offensive Coordinator Dan Enos, who was formerly the head coach at Central Michigan. At Central Michigan, Enos seemed to mold Quarterbacks into winners and he should be able to do the same at Arkansas with Brandon Allen and his backups, Austin Allen and Rafe Peavey. Austin is the younger brother of Brandon and not quite there yet, but a promising Quarterback nonetheless.
Brandon Allen is stereotyped as a classic drop back passer, but he is a talented athlete and can make plays with his feet. Word is, he did not throw an Interception all Spring.
The Arkansas defense got much better as the 2014 season progressed. By the end of the season, they were about as good as anyone.
But, they had some big losses to overcome not only in the Spring, but this Fall as well.
Leading tackler, Linebacker Martell Spaight is gone. So is team leader Trey Flowers at Defensive End and top Safety Alan Turner.
Also, top run stuffer Darius Philon has moved on to greener pastures and that loss hurts.
But, there is plenty of defensive talent returning led by returning Weakside Linebacker Brooks Ellis, Middle Linebacker Josh Williams and Defensive Linemen Taiwan Johnson and JaMichael
Winston. Plus, the Hogs return excellent Safety Rohan Gaines. Other than getting in trouble at the end of last season, Gaines should be most well known for his 100 yard Interception return against Ole Miss.
A defensive player for the Hogs who is most likely a year or two away at best is true freshman Hjalte Froholdt who I wrote about here: Denmark
He will be young and green, but you have to like the kid’s heart.
Some people are on the Arkansas bandwagon now, but I called it two years ago after watching this Offensive Line and again last season. At the end of the year, they came on strong and people started to jump on.
The Arkansas Razorbacks may not win the SEC next season, but they will be a tough challenge for anyone.