We're less than a week into spring football practice, but expectations are already sky high for next season. However, before you book your tickets for the SEC championship game, it's probably worth remembering that there's the small matter of playing defense, and simply hoping that the same squad from last year (give or take) will magically morph into a top unit may not cut it.
The Razorbacks had their first unofficial pads-on scrimmage yesterday, and it was a pretty familiar refrain: gaudy numbers by the offense and lots of quotes from the defensive side talking about how they need to improve. As Terry Wood put it:
"The Hogs’ defense still struggles. It struggles stopping the run and it struggles stopping the deep ball. That’s a double-whammy folks that does not add up to the 10-win, BCS-bowl type season some fans are expecting, no matter how prolific Mallett ends up being."
Wood's whole column is worth a read, and he also notes that another weakness from last year, the running game, seemed to struggle too (if our runners can't produce in a scrimmage against our defense, that's doubly bad). To be fair, there were plenty of highlights from Saturday - Cobi Hamilton's big day, in particular - but as of now the Hogs are looking like a slightly more evolved version of last year's team.
There's still plenty of time for things to change, of course, but for now a nice dose of reality is probably a good thing.