It’s almost that time of year! Football is imminent, and SB Nation is previewing each team before the football is even kicked off. We’ve answered five big questions about Arkansas. If you’d like your voice to be heard, sign up to be an Arkansas Fight pollster, and tell me how right or wrong I am.
1) Who is your most important player on offense this season?
There are a couple of answers to this question based on both known and unknown metrics.
As far as someone we expect to be an offensive focal point, you won’t find higher expectations than those that are being placed on running back Rakeem Boyd. Boyd was a bright spot in an incredibly dark season last year and showed a unique burst and vision that the offense has been sorely missing. He became the first Razorback to rush for 100 yards against Alabama since 2007(!) and had a breakout game against Ole Miss. Injuries ended up cutting his season short, but hope remain high for his second campaign as the Arkansas bell cow. We’ve projected him as going over 1000 yards this year, assuming the offensive line shows improvement.
The biggest question to this question though is who will be the most important player on offense not named Rakeem Boyd? Arkansas had an anemic offense last season due to poor quarterback play, and poor receiver play. The battle rages on between transfers Ben Hicks and Nick Starkel for the starting job. Whoever wins will need to become that most important player, as good quarterback play in the SEC is an absolute must.
2) Who is your most important player on defense this season?
This is an easier question to answer. The two impact players on this Arkansas defense are going to be De’Jon Harris and McTelvin Agim. De’Jon Harris was a force for the Arkansas defense last year, leading both the team and the SEC in tackles. He finished the season voted Second Team All SEC. After a full offseason under John Chavis, hopefully he’ll give an encore performance of even better quality.
McTelvin “Sosa” Agim came to Arkansas as a much heralded five star recruit. He’s moved between end and tackle and through multiple defensive systems. The tackle position is not a stat-padding one usually, but there are high expectations for Agim to have a monster senior year. Defensive line play matters in the SEC, and a big year from the big man will help Arkansas shake off the malaise of a bad season in 2018.
3) What should be the biggest change between last year and this year?
Hopefully we will have a determined, set in stone QB1. Former Hog Ty Storey recently lost out in the quarterback battle at Western Kentucky, and his former teammate Cole Kelley lost out in the quarterback battle at Southeastern Louisiana. That’s certainly an indictment of where we were under center last year.
This year, the battle still rages on, but hopefully with more polished candidates. Transfers Ben Hicks and Nick Starkel seem to be fighting down to the wire. As said above, whoever wins needs to be that big change from last year to this year, or the Pigs could be in for another long year.
4) What is the most important game on this schedule, and why?
It’s a trite, old coach’s response, but every game is the most important game. When you only win 2 games, and finish with a program worst record, all wins are good wins. With that said, the game at Ole Miss will be very telling about the kind of season Arkansas will have. It would be a huge statement of intent to get an early conference win on the road, and this game seems to be winnable. That game may set the tone for the whole of 2019.
5) What is your prediction for W/L record and postseason destination?
This is hard to call. Vegas has the over/under at 5.5 wins, which feels about right. There will be trouble if the Hogs can’t win their non-conference slate, so let’s call it a sweep of the non-conference teams for the sake of sanity and Chad Morris’ job security. After that, I can’t fathom another winless year in the SEC. The Hogs have to snatch one SEC win, and perhaps will have the ability to steal two. Not to be too optimistic, but I’ll submit my guess, which is as good as yours, as 6 wins. Making a bowl would be tremendous for the program, and would certainly be a display of improvement.
Thanks for checking out the first part of our series on Arkansas’ 2019 Football Season, be sure to sign up for our SB Nation poll, and follow @ArkansasFight on Twitter. For other opinions and hopefully more joke-bits, follow @TuckerPartridge.