Arkansas Razorbacks 2012

Arkansas 2011 Statistics

(SEC) The Razorbacks play home games on artificial turf at Razorback Stadium (seats 72,000)

  • John L. Smith is in his 1st year as head coach at Arkansas.  He signed a 10-month interim deal in light of the Petrino scandal.  As a reminder, this came as a surprise in the off season as Bobby Petrino was fired after 4 years as head coach because he lied to school officials in an attempt to cover up an affair and used school money to provide gifts and a job to his mistress. Petrino’s head coaching career has been laden with controversy since 2007.  He had been extremely successful in his four years as head coach at Louisville, but left there in 2007 for a lucrative NFL job.  He was just 13 games into his job as head coach of the Atlanta Falcons when he left abruptly for the Arkansas.
  • Smith had been an assistant (special teams) at Arkansas for three seasons under Petrino until December, when he had just left to become head coach at his alma mater, Weber State (where he was set to earn a base of $130,000 per year).  Smith signed a 10 month, $850,000 contract with Arkansas and is head coach for now.  Hopefully the stress from possibly having to declare bankruptcy won’t effect him (bad real estate investments).  He was more recently known as the head coach at Michigan State from 2003-2006.
  • Last year the Razorbacks had a 11-2 record, with the only two losses coming to Alabama and LSU, the teams that played for the national championship and finished #1 and #2, respectively.  Arkansas didn’t finish far behind at #5.
  • What was impressive about this team is that they achieved 11 wins while replacing Ryan Mallet, who accounted for a majority of their offense in 2010. Tyler Wilson took over and while it was his first year as a starter, he has been a part of the team since 2008 so his experience paid off.  He passed for over 3600 yards with a great 24-6 TD-INT ratio.  Arkansas’ passing offense was ranked 13th in the nation (not far off from 4th under Mallet).  Wilson returns this year, but the big question is what happens to the offense without Petrino?  He may be despicable and slimey, but he knows how to win and how to create a dominating passing game.

Running back Knile Davis

  • Arkansas ended up having just 5 starters return on offense when Knile Davis suffered a season-ending ankle injury before the season even began.  He was expected to carry this team coming off a 1322 yard season with 13 TDs and a great 6.5 yards per carry.  He also had six games where he rushed for over 100 yards.  The good news is that this year they get Davis back.  Davis was expected to be a top prospect in the 2012 NFL Draft, but decided to come back and give the Razorbacks an elite rusher and balance on offense.  And while Arkansas’ passing game may suffer without Petrino, it’s running game hopefully will not.  The ground game was not Petrino’s forte, but for John L. Smith having come off his last head coaching stint in the Big Ten, the significance of the running game is certainly something he understands.
  • The receiving group leaves somewhat of a question mark as three players are gone from last year who were chosen in April’s NFL Draft. They have to replace their top receiver Jarius Wright (1117 yards, 12 TDs), but at least 2011’s #3 receive Cobi Hamilton and Tight End Chris Gragg have some experience.
  • Allowing the defense to get to the quarterback continued to be an issue for this team (tied for 73rd in sacks allowed). In fact, it has been an issue since Petrino took over as head coach.  This team went from one of the best at protecting the quarterback (in 2007 before he arrived) to being actually quite bad. The offensive line is somewhat more experienced than last year and more importantly, so is their QB, which should help the sack problem…as well as a different offensive system.
  • With the return of their top three tacklers from 2010, this defense was supposed to improve in 2011, but they actually took a dip.  This year the top two tacklers are gone. This could impact the overall defense, but at least there is considerable experience on each line of defense.  The defensive line loses their #1 player, but has pretty much everyone else back. The linebacker group also loses their #1.  John L. Smith is a defensive guy so perhaps the defense could even improve.
  • The schedule is better this year in that they face Alabama and LSU at home. Had Petrino still been head coach, this team could have possibly gone undefeated.  It will be tougher to do this year, but with the talent that returns, they could definitely have double digit wins.