Much like Ole Miss in 2009, we are hearing rumblings from sports writers all over the south east claiming Arkansas as the dark horse to compete and even win the SEC West in 2010. And again, just like Ole Miss in 2009 I just don't get it.
Chris Lowe of ESPN has been doing an interesting position break down of all the SEC teams. Mind you Im not a huge fan of Lowe but I feel he's been right on for the most part. Even Lowe has them at #2 preseason. When I was going through each position, one thing jumped out at me...
Arkansas will have a TERRIBLE, not bad but plain ole raunchy (and not in a good way) defense. They weren't exactly good in '09 either. In fact they ranked dead last in the SEC in overall defense. Sad thing is they haven't seemed to progress at all in 2010. Here's where Lowe ranked and his thoughts on the Pigs defense...
D Back's - 12th
The Hogs gladly welcome back junior cornerback Isaac Madison, who missed all of last season with a knee injury. Their pass defense suffered with Madison out of the lineup, and they finished last in the league, allowing 401.2 yards per game. They also gave up 22 touchdown passes. To get more speed on the field, Arkansas moved Rudell Crim to safety during the spring. Ramon Broadway returns at the other cornerback and Elton Ford at the other safety.
Line Backer's- 11th
The Hogs need to improve across the board on defense, and linebacker is no exception. Junior Jerry Franklin has started since he was a freshman and finished with 94 tackles last season. He’s capable of playing in the middle, but Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino wants to leave him at weakside linebacker and give him a chance to make more plays against both the run and pass. The Hogs still need to settle on a middle linebacker. Senior Jermaine Love and sophomore Terrell Williams were battling it out in the spring.
D Line- 10th
The Hogs will be better on defense this season. So says Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino, and they’ll need to be better if they’re going to make a run in the Western Division race. The depth should be better, although losing Malcolm Sheppard in the middle is a killer. Junior end Jake Bequette had 5.5 sacks last season and is one of those guys who could really blossom this season. Junior Zach Stadther returns at one tackle. Sophomore Tenarius Wright missed the spring with a foot injury, but will also be a key at the other end position.
Special Teams- 12th
Inconsistency has plagued senior place-kicker Alex Tejada throughout his career, and it reared its head again this spring. The Hogs were also last in the SEC in net punting a year ago. The coverage units have improved with the addition of John L. Smith, the former Louisville and Michigan State head coach, to the staff. Dennis Johnson is one of the more dangerous return men in the league.
Now im no football wiz and I don't claim to know everything about the Arkansas defense but when you were dead last on defense a year ago and did little to bring in better players, its safe to say they will be terrible once again. Add to the mix that they are playing in a league known for running the ball (Alabama, LSU, MSU and Auburn all have a run first offense) and you have a recipe for disaster awaiting the Razorbacks.
Some people might point to the fact that Lowe ranked each Arkansas offensive position in his top 5...And? So they'll score more points but the amount they will be giving up will be their Achilles heel. You don't win in the SEC with offense (it helps of course) and you sure as hell won't win without defense. I can't remember the last SEC Champion or even SEC West champion for that matter, who won on offense alone. Hell, I can't remember the last SEC west team to win games at all without at least a good defense.
Arkansas will scare a few teams, win some games they shouldn't but they won't end up 2nd in the West. Auburn. LSU and MSU have all improved in a year. They still have to face the two headed beast at RB with Alabama. Their only advantage is a terrible weak schedule and thats about it...
My predicition. 8-4 with losses to Alabama, LSU, South Carolina, and Auburn (4th in the west)