The Razorbacks have an opportunity to turn things around this season and that is not due to being a homer, fan or trying be a Positive Polly. Since the 2017 season the Razorbacks have lost a total of 10 games by a touchdown or less. There are seniors on this team who have won a total of 8 games in their three seasons on The Hill. The senior class is also on their third head coach in three seasons, too.
What makes this scenario different though? You have Covid-19 maybe making it an equalizer, the recruiting has stayed at a level to keep Arkansas competitive enough to beat their non Power-5 opponents. That is something the previous regime could not figure out. Also, the additions of graduate transfers at vital positions on offense and defense could help Arkansas begin a winning culture in the locker room. At least a culture of trust amongst the players and coaches and that starts with a proven track record amongst the head coach and his assistants.
Will Arkansas win six games? That is yet to be seen but there is hope...there is even a path for a team to make it to a bowl game this season. A team that has not won a conference game since October 2017.
How can fans be hopeful for such a change under a coach that has never been a head coach at a FBS level program? What Arkansas has needed for the longest time is a coach that needs a CEO type of head coach that brings in a trio of coordinators to his staff that have a proven record of success in Power Five football. Barry Odom (25-25 as head coach at Missouri) was let go too soon in my opinion by his old school. He is a proven defensive coordinator as he was rising through the ranks at Memphis and Missouri coaching top 25 defenses and attacking defensive lines. Fans will look forward to seeing their Razorback defense be more fundamentally sound, well coached, disciplined and in the right spots every play. Yeah, that is something that Arkansas has lacked for many of years.
Offensively, Pittman was able to bring in highly sought after offensive coordinator Kendal Briles into the fold. He led top 10 offenses at Baylor, Houston and Florida Atlantic. He also turned around the Florida State offense in 2019 from the 90’s to the 60’s. Briles has been one to jump schools each of the previous four off seasons. It has been mentioned several times recently that his family is ready to settle down and put roots down in one area. How much sweeter would it be to have a dominant offense again in Fayetteville? It would be a welcome sight for sure.
Finally, Scott Fountain was hired to take over the special teams at Arkansas after coaching at Georgia since 2018. During his time as a Bulldog assistant, he coached two of the SEC’s top special teams performers in Mecole Hardman and kicker Rodrigo Blankenship. During the 2018 season, Blankenship connected on 154 consecutive extra points and a season record 82 touchbacks. I have always said that we need special teams to be special again and that is what Arkansas will get under Fountain.
So, what is the expectation for the Razorback football team in 2020? Right now it is unknown without spring practice but do not be surprised to see Arkansas sneak up and win a couple of conference games. Anything is possible. Woo pig.