Although we're in the middle of a painfully loooooong football-less stretch, a couple of recent news items have prompted us to pop our heads up, Punxsutawney Phil-style, and report on Petrino, Mallet and company.
In the "looking back" category, our favorite college football blog - the always excellent Dr. Saturday - has written an in-depth postmortem of the 2009 season. Definitely read the whole thing, but as a quick taste here's his analysis of the Hogs' 2010 prospects:
This was a frighteningly young team -- Mallett, his top five receivers, three of the top four rushers and four starting linemen are back next fall, along with 11 of the top 15 tacklers on defense -- that regularly lit up opposing defenses and came within a missed field goal in two of the SEC's toughest road venues, Gainesville and Baton Rouge, of winning 10 games. Florida rotates off the schedule next year, and Alabama, Ole Miss and LSU come to Fayetteville, opening the door to turn-the-corner kind of campaign. With average improvement on defense and an upset or two in big games, the Razorbacks could plausibly push 'Bama's three-peat in the SEC West to the wire. But there were also nine returning starters on defense coming into last year, which basically amounted to nothing; who's going to step next time?
And in the "looking ahead" category, National Signing Day for high schoolers is tomorrow. Although the Razorbacks' recruiting efforts have been disappointingly (and surprisingly) paltry if you go by the word of the various experts, there are still a few undecided players who could swing things one way or the other. Richard Davenport, aka "The Recruiting Guy", has put together an online dashboard to show status updates for the various potential Hogs. Will be worth checking that out tomorrow, for sure.
Update: AS360 has a good breakdown of who's who in this year's class, and which names to watch tomorrow.