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2017 Fierce 40 Previews: #26 Arkansas

by DJ Boyer on Jul. 22, 2017

#26 Arkansas Razorbacks

2016 Recap:
There were a few things that really hampered the Razorbacks season in 2016. Finishing 90th in the country with a -4 turnover ratio was a culprit as well as inconsistent line play. Arkansas struggled to a 7-6 record but was just 3-5 in the SEC.


Coaching:
Bret Bielema had lofty expectations since coming over from Wisconsin and after four years he owns a 25-26 record. While success has not been achieved on a consistent basis the program has had it's moments and even in most of their losses they are competitive. Dan Evans and Paul Rhoads lead the offense and defense respectively.

 

Offense

The Razorbacks enjoyed fine play from Austin Allen, one of the better quarterbacks that nobody seemed to talk about a season ago. Allen threw for 3,430 yards and 25 touchdowns as a junior. The only real issue is Allen lost a lot of targets but Arkansas was deep yet underwhelming at the position so there is some experience at wideout. Jared Cornelius and Deon Stewart seem like they will be the top targets in the downfield passing attack. ATtArkansas it is all about running the football behind a stacked line on the interior offensive line, much of what Bielema had at Wisconsin. Rawleigh Williams is the latest in effective Razorback runners as the junior comes off a 1,360 yard sophomore campaign. Williams will help in the passing game as well as catching the ball out of the backfield seems to be an area of improvement for the young runner. If something were to happen to Williams on the injury front Arkansas just turns to Devwah Whaley and the dropoff is minimal. Arkansas is built for the run lead by one of the best centers in the country in Frank Ragnow but they must improve their pass protection.
 

Best Draft Prospects: Rawleigh Williams RB 4th Round 2019.

                                       Frank Ragnow C 3rd/4th Round 2018.


Defense

The defense lost a lot of players along the front line and finding consistent pressure will be one of the early tests for Arkansas. Arnkansas will continue to employ a 3-4 front base and linebackers De'John Harris and Dre Greenlaw figure to provide the most pressure shooting and filling the gaps. McTelvin Agim shows promise along the line but he is still young and developing as a player. The secondary has the most experience and depth on this team. Free safty Josh Liddell is a great open field tackler but he made too many plays last season. Arkansas needs to contain big plays and allow players like Liddell to offer more of a supporting role.

Best Draft Prospects: Dre Greenlaw LB 4th Round 2019.                

                                       Josh Liddell S 5th/6th Round 2018.


Special Teams:

The big question here is who replaces a punter like Toby Baker, a player that kept Arkansas in so many games with winning the battle of field position with his excellent directional punting. Blake Johnson looks like he will be the punter but this position as well as kicker is up in the air at the moment. We may see Arkansas use as many as three different kickers to open the season.


Schedule:

The week 2 home opener with TCU will be a fun game to watch and massively important to both schools right before they open conference play. Alabama, Auburn and Ole Miss are all back-to-back in the middle of the schedule during October. Arkansas then gets LSU, a team they have performed awful against over the last five years, on the road whuile closing with the Mississippi schools at home to close out of the season.


Draft and Overall Outlook:

Arkansas has some serious players but none that jump out as immediate 1st or 2nd day prospects with the exception of Ragnow who could establish himself as the premier center at the college level. If Arkansas has another sub .500 year within the SEC we may hear some whispers about Bielema as job security can turn quickly in the nations premier conference.

 

DJ Boyer