If you get my "SOAP" reference, then I salute your knowledge of funny, but long ago cancelled sitcoms from the late 70s. Just as they left each episode of "SOAP" with a voice over of questions for the next episode, I would like to leave our Hog Football Campaign 2009 with some questions for the 2010 Campaign. Question number one has just been answered. Ryan "Sling It Downfield" Mallett will thankfully be back for 2010. But what other questions loom?
1.) Does Ryan Mallett improve his game in 2010? We all suspect he will, I think. He has the same group of receivers coming back that he mainly threw to. He'll lose Fish, Crawford, and Miller. But Adams, Wright, Hamilton, and Childs will be back. The offensive line stays mostly intact, but will lose Petrus. A spring and fall practice where they work more with him on looking for the open receiver underneath will no doubt help Mallett in his decision making. Just having a year of experience in the SEC has to help as well. A big plus, just ask Jevan Snead, is that Houston Nutt isn't there to work his magic QB regression trick on Ryan.
2.) Will Ryan Mallett win an SEC road game? Georgia, Auburn, South Carolina, and Miss. State will be the opportunities.
3.) Who will have the place kicking duties come the fall? Tejada ended the 2009 season with the kick to win the Liberty Bowl. But will he have lost his job by the time we face Tennessee Tech on September the 4th? I hear that there is a new kicker coming to Fayetteville that should challenge Tejada for the position. If Tejada doesn't make another kick for the Hogs, he will still always have a place in Razorback lore as the kicker who put the elusive Liberty Bowl trophy in the Broyles Center.
4.) How will the two new staff members pan out that Petrino added to the staff? Caldwell, I like that he has SEC experience at Tennessee. Cinkovich, just seems to have Bobby Petrino experience, having once played with him. Cinkovich needs to come up with a cure for the common drops that our receivers tend to come down with. And anything Caldwell can do to improve the defense would be welcome.
5.) Just how elemental was Paul Petrino to the Hog offense? Well, the offense sure didn't look that good in the first game after Paul's departure to Illinois. But I am just hoping that it was weather, the long lay off, and an underrated East Carolina defense full of seniors that made us 0-13 in third down conversions. Pray we don't have a Mike Stoops going to Arizona situation here where Bob Stoops' OU teams were never the same after his brother left.
6.) Will the off-season be as quiet as the regular season when it comes to off-the- field issues? It sure would be good for the program and all involved if the Fayetteville police department only sees our players from their seats at Razorback Stadium.
7.) Will the offensive line do a better job of run blocking? We all wanted to see the pass come to life when Petrino took over. And it has. But none of us, Petrino included, wanted to see the famous Arkansas running attack fade away. And to a degree, it has. If it is to improve, it starts with the offensive line.
8.) Will a "go to" back emerge, or does the running back by committee approach continue? My guess is that the committee approach is going to continue. Either way, I just want to see more yards gained on the ground. We shouldn't allow teams like East Carolina out run us, not the school who once had Felix Jones and Darren McFadden in our backfield.
9.) Does the defense make some improvement in year three of the Willie Robinson Experiment? Simply put, it has to! I hope they continue their ball theivery, for that is what kept our bad defense from looking worse. The pre-season pollers will use this as an excuse for not ranking or not ranking us higher. The last four national champs / SEC champs all had great defenses.
10.) Will the Hogs be the SEC Champ who continues the SEC's national title winning ways to five straight wins? I think a big part of this question will be answered on afternoon of September 25th when the current national champs come to Fayetteville. Get by the Tide at home, and the schedule sets up for a nice run of winnable games. With Florida losing so much to graduation and the NFL, it will be interesting to see who emerges from the EAST. Whichever team does, I think the team from the WEST, Alabama or Arkansas or LSU, will be the favorite in Atlanta. And if you burn through Atlanta these days, you are likely going to be in the national championship game.
11.) How do we define success for Arkansas in 2010? Actually, this is the one question we can all answer right now. I know the answer isn't another trip to the Liberty Bowl. Been there. Done that. I think for most Hog fans, myself included, anything less than a trip to Atlanta is going to be a disappointment knowing the talent we have coming back, the easier schedule in 2010, and the likelihood that this truly is Ryan Mallett's last year as a Hog.
Feel free to attempt your own answers or present your own questions in the comment section. But don't delay, for we only have about eight months to contemplate the next episode of Razorback football, haha. Oh, one more question has come to mind. Given my interest in the sartorial efforts of our Hogs, I wonder what will the Hogs's new Nike uniforms look like? Stay tuned, I suppose, as we Hog fans always have.