5 reasons Arkansas will exceed expected win total

By Otis Kirk
on 2024-07-09 13:16 PM

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas is generally predicted to finish in the bottom half of the SEC this fall during the football season, but there’s some reasons to be optimistic.

The SEC welcomes two new teams to the league with the addition of Texas and Oklahoma. The Razorbacks are coming off a 4-8 season, but some changes to the program could allow them to exceed expectations.

Here’s five reasons for optimism this fall.

Bobby Petrino

The play calling in 2023 was very predictable. Sam Pittman made a change during the season going from Dan Enos to Kenny Guiton following a 7-3 loss to Mississippi State in Razorback Stadium. Guiton left for Wisconsin in the offseason. Pittman hired Bobby Petrino who was the offensive coordinator at Texas A&M last season. Petrino was the head coach at Arkansas for four years and led the team to three bowl games. Petrino is regarded as one of the best offensive coordinators in the business. His offense will be anything but predictable. Pittman made a huge upgrade to the offense when he hired Petrino who will coach the quarterbacks. The hiring of Petrino could lead Arkansas to win some of the games they lost previously that were close.

Offensive Line Upgrade

Pittman and Eric Mateos were able to bring in three transfers who are expected to start this fall. Fernando Carmona and Keyshawn Blackstock are set to take over at the tackles. The Hogs added Addison Nichols to play center. The addition of the two tackles allowed Patrick Kutas to move inside to his natural position at guard. Joshua Braun is at the guard opposite Kutas. Mateos took over for Cody Kennedy who left for Mississippi State. Joe More transferred in from Syracuse and is capable of playing multiple spots. E’Marion Harris, Ty’Kieast Crawford and others return to form what should be a much better offensive line than last season.

Continuity on Defense

Pittman was able to retain his entire staff on defense. That should prove huge. Landon Jackson’s decision to return for another season was a huge plus as well. The Hogs lost a lot of talent at linebacker, but were able to hit the transfer portal hard and have some younger talent on the team at that position as well. The defense started the season much improved, but by the end of the year they were worn down being on the field so much due to a sputtering offense. With Petrino back on the staff that shouldn’t be an issue this fall. The defense should be a solid unit particularly if the linebackers come through as expected.

Taylen Green

Arkansas’ new quarterback, Taylen Green, is perfect for what Petrino wants in a player at that position. KJ Jefferson had a great career at Arkansas, but opted for a fresh start at UCF. The move should prove to be a good one for both Jefferson and Arkansas. The former Boise State standout provides Arkansas with a dual-threat quarterback. Green is well liked by the teammates and is expected to shine in Petrino’s offense.

No Alabama, Georgia and Oklahoma

The schedule is a tough one as it always is in the SEC, but no Alabama or Georgia is a plus no matter how you look at it. The Hogs will get Texas instead of Oklahoma this season as well. Texas is expected to be better than the Sooners, but Arkansas has played well against the Longhorns since leaving the Southwest Conference. The Hogs still have to go to Oklahoma State in the non-conference portion of the schedule and face LSU, Missouri, Ole Miss, Auburn, Mississippi State, Tennessee and Texas A&M in addition to Texas in the conference. So the schedule is a brutal one, but that is the case each season. But Alabama and Georgia have seemingly been automatic losses in recent seasons and them not being on the schedule is a plus.

(Last updated: 2024-07-09 13:16 PM)