With the start of conference play this weekend its time to revive that time honored tradition, the Blogger Q&A exchange. The boys over at Arkansas Expats sent us some Qs so head on over for our answers, and were kind enough to oblige us with some As of there own. Without further ado:
Give us your thoughts on Tyler Wilson so far. Just from the raw numbers he's looking like a solid quarterback, but as someone who's watched the games with a fan's eye, how does he LOOK in the actual games? Is he a bona fide QB talent or just another Petrino system guy putting up big numbers against overmatched competition?
Overall, he has looked pretty solid, although the second half against Troy was at least slightly worrisome, as Wilson was pressured into some poor decisions. Some media reports also noted that he looked a little unsure while changing plays at the line of scrimmage. Time will tell if that was a momentary bump in the road or indicative of a problem. We're willing to be forgiving, though: it was only his third game as a starter.
Wilson was outstanding in relief of Mallett against Auburn and Ole Miss last season. He's a totally different quarterback from Ryan: you won't see those insane long-range bombs that Mallett made look so easy but he is more mobile than his predecessor, a trait that should come in handy given the Hogs' inexperienced offensive line.
It wouldn't surprise us to see Tyler struggle a bit on Saturday - first big game as a starter, Alabama defense, the Hogs' offensive line, etc. - but we think his long term future is bright. He might not play on Sundays, but we think he's more bona fide talent than system guy.
How big of an impact has the loss of Knile Davis been? Has the offensive scheme changed any without him, and is Ronnie Wingo going to be able to carry the load in his absence?
The Hogs' selection of early season cupcakes hasn't provided a lot of concrete evidence on this front. In their first two games against utterly terrible teams, the Razorbacks struggled with the run a bit and were content to do their damage through the air. Against a tougher Troy squad, Wingo had his best game to date, which may bode well for the future. Still, many Arkansas fans don't have a huge amount of faith in him - the knock on him is that he's fast and has good moves, but goes down at first contact and can't pick up the tough yards. He showed signs of putting it all together in the spring and summer camps, though, so we'll see.
Dennis Johnson remains a personal favorite of ours - he was out all last year with a gruesome-sounding ruptured bowel, but had great games against LSU in 2008 and Florida in 2009. However, he saw his first action this year with just a few carries against Troy, and it's hard to say how ready he is.
Overall, our feeling is that in most games the Hogs will be able to more or less make up for the loss of Knile Davis. However, in the really tough ones - and Bama looms as the toughest - we're pretty sure his absence will be strongly felt. The dude is/was just too good not to be missed. Ultimately though, because the true season hasn't really started yet we'll have to give you a better answer to this one on Sunday.
Arkansas's defense has been, shall we say, generous over the last few seasons. Any signs of improvement so far or are the Razorbacks going to have to continue to rely on the offense to be successful?
No one will mistake the Razorback D for Alabama's or LSU's, but it's safe to say this is by far the best defensive unit of the Bobby Petrino era. A lot of those youngsters who were getting strafed by big play after big play in 2008 and 2009 are now battle-tested veterans, and the defense is no longer the team's primary concern (offensive line, we're looking at you). As long as Petrino is head coach, the Hogs will be led by the offense, but this year they're far more balanced than before.
The Razorbacks did give up a lot of yards against Troy, but most of that came in the second half when the players, coaches and fans had all turned their focus to this week's game against the Tide, so we're not overly concerned there. DE Jake Bequette won't play this weekend and that's definitely a source of worry - and if you promise not to tell Nick Saban, we'll note that the cornerbacks seem like a particular weak spot (shhh). Overall though, the D is solid.
I'll just copy y'all and ask for a prediction for this game and how you see the rest of the season shaking out for the Hogs.
A Hogs win on Saturday wouldn't shock us, but - our tens of readers won't like hearing this - we're not predicting it. That forecast may stem more from emotion than a steely-eyed, hard-nosed look at the stats: We've suffered no shortage of misery at the hands of you guys in recent years. Throw in an inexperienced offensive line, and we see something along the lines of a 28-21 Alabama victory.
Overall, though, we're high on the Hogs. This should be Petrino's most balanced Razorback squad. A 10-2 regular-season record sounds about right to us.
Under the "good natured ribbing" category, what was it like to be the first SEC team in history to lose to Ohio State in a bowl game?
It was painful, no doubt about it. Not only did we hate being the first SEC team to lose a bowl game to the Buckeyes, but the way it unfolded was heartbreaking. After turning in a pitiful first half that was all too reminiscent of Arkansas' usual performance in bowl games, the Hogs played great football in the second half. They had OSU on the ropes when Ryan Mallett's threw a last-minute interception (hmm ... that might sound familiar to you).
Oh well - at least we know that we lost to a man of rectitude. Wait ...