2021 Arkansas Razorback Football Preview
Let’s hope Year 2 of the Sam Pittman era produces better results than Year 2 of the last guy. Chad, I think his name was?
With an experienced offensive line, a dynamic playmaker at wide receiver, and two highly sought-after coordinators, 15 extra practices in December linger in the future for the Razorbacks.
Offense, defense, and special teams previews before we get into the schedule.
Offense, led by Kendal Briles
The quarterback is the most important position on the football field. As KJ goes, the offense goes. The redshirt Junior comes in with a career completion percentage below 50%, albeit in limited action scattered throughout the season and one start against Missouri. Concerned would not be the word I would use to describe my expectations for KJ this year. Hesitant would be a better descriptor. He is talented, no doubt about that. Bottling his talent into smart/safe/easy throws is where I see him pulling this program forward during his first year as a starter. He has weapons around him to help with that objective. Treylon Burks is a freak. Literally. He is #53 on Bruce Feldman’s “Freak” list. Trelon Smith is the Arizona State transfer who we heard all about tearing up the Razorback defense while he had his sit-out year in 2019. Not only did he tear up Razorback defenses in the offseason, but he also did the same to opposing SEC school’s last season. Amassing 710 yards with a 5.3 YPC average while being slotted behind the underwhelming Rakeem Boyd for the bulk of the season is impressive, nonetheless. The offensive line anchored by Ricky Stromberg is out for blood in 2021. Returning starters across the line should help protect #1 and pave the way for #22.
Defense, led by Barry Odom
Jalen Catalon. Grant Morgan. A stingy 1-2 punch. Do you remember the five-game span when Odom’s crew allowed 24 PPG? Yeah, let’s do that again. The defense tailed off towards the end of the year. Injuries, Covid-19, and a lack of depth can be thanked for the November & December falloff.
Special Teams, led by Scott Fountain
If we don’t get better in this phase I may scream.
S C H E D U L E P R E D I C T I O N
Game 1: Rice
The Stanford of Conference USA likes to play “bully ball” with their opponents. Three yards and a cloud of dust, if you will. Christian McCaffrey’s brother, Luke, will suit up at QB for the Owls. A sloppy game in the first half leads to a crisp second half. The final score looks deceiving.
Game 2: Texas
The big one. September 11th has been talked about daily for the longest of times. This game will be the highlight of every University of Arkansas students’ college experience. Well, most of them. The rumor mill has been buzzing with the potential of College Gameday making an appearance for the first time since 2006. Texas owns the Hogs in talent. Arkansas hasn’t proven to effectively close out games. Call me a pessimist.
Game 3: Georgia Southern
Do you want an example of a Grade A trap game? Coming off an emotional game against the Longhorns and looking ahead to a ranked Aggie squad in Arlington with a triple-option nightmare dropped smack in the middle. Woof. Even the “easy” games don’t seem as easy anymore. Good things the coaching staff has these Hogs locked in.
Game 4: Texas A&M*
Lion King was the box office number-one film in the United States the last time Arkansas toppled Texas A&M. No matter who is on the sidelines coaching or on the field playing, I will never predict a Razorback win in this series until I see it happen. I have been let down too many times to expect anything different in the Southwest Classic.
Game 5: @ Georgia
Thanks, SEC scheduling. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and remember how someone in Birmingham thought it would be a good idea to schedule the two monsters in the Eastern division to our schedule last year, knowing that we would have to play the Bulldogs in back-back years. Fantastic.
Game 6: Ole Miss
Talking with fellow Hog fans, this next statement is a hot take. The Rebels will handle the Hogs by two possessions (or more). Matt Corral is a good quarterback in this league. That notion took a long time to come around to, but it is true. Even after his disastrous performance in Fayetteville. He will be out for blood with revenge on his mind on October 9th.
Game 7: Auburn
I won’t mention it. I won’t mention it. I won’t mention it. Donald W Reynolds Razorback Stadium may become unglued if a certain referee walks out of the tunnel. I’m not buying into Bryan Harsin just yet.
Game 8: Pine Bluff
I love the direction of our athletic program to be more accepting of these in-state matchups. Tip of the cap to our Director of Athletics, Hunter Yurachek. Malik Hornsby has his best game of 2021.
Game 9: Mississippi State
Coming off a bye week, the Hogs clash with the Dawgs. Three aspects to keep in mind. 1) Talent favors Arkansas 2) Coaching favors Arkansas 3) Preparation favors Arkansas
Game 10: @ Louisiana State
LSU looked more like Cubs than Tigers last fall. QB Max Johnson looked impressive down the stretch last season and should continue that momentum into ’21. A victory in Baton Rouge is a tall task.
Game 11: @ Alabama
Facing the Crimson Tide by the time they can wear off the lack of chemistry to begin the year. Not ideal. Tide roll.
Game 12: Missouri
I don’t like Missouri. This rivalry game has been unfortunately one-sided. Last year, the offense improved as the season went on. I expect none other from KJ Jefferson and Co. this go-a-round. Black Friday will help swing the pendulum back in the good guys’ favor. Let’s bowl.
Game 13: Texas Tech
The Texas Bowl will see the Hogs for the 3rd time in eight seasons. Why not finish the year with a 4th Southwest Conference foe. Hogs wreck Tech and send expectations soaring into 2022.
Six wins in Year 2 is the next step on the trail of building a healthy program.