Can Burks and Knox be the next great duo for the Hogs?
You look back through the years and think of two truly great duos the Razorbacks have had over the years and their are dozens. Recent memory would suggest their impact could be similar to a Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams. Oh, what about Hunter Henry and A.J. Derby? Darren McFadden and Felix Jones were quite the tandem at running back! If there were just a quarterback on campus that could get the ball to them the two could help Arkansas’ offense get back on track. Presuming that Florida graduate transfer becomes the starting quarterback you can can best believe the offense could by on “X-Games Mode” this season.
Early on in the 2019 season Burks and Knox stood in the top five in freshman wide receivers in reception yardage. Although they did not have the numbers towards the end due to injuries and the inept offense of which they played in, this duo could be exponentially better in 2020. The two combined for 860 yards receiving last season. So, what should the mark be for having a successful first season under new offensive coordinator Kendal Briles? Most of his offenses he installed over the previous five seasons were with teams that were not rebuilding. Except this past season at Florida State.
In 2018 and 2019 the Seminoles had a combined record of 9-12 under former head coach Willie Taggart. Their offense was just as bad as Arkansas’ in 2018 as they finished 113th in points per game, rushed for only 96 yards per game and averaged less than a touchdown rushing (11) prior to the arrival of Briles. After they hired Briles (which everyone knows his offenses got better after his hiring) the Seminole offense got much better. As they ranked 73rd in points per game, gained nearly 50 yards more per game over 2018 and doubled (24) the amount of touchdowns rushing from the previous season.
Let’s look at what he could do through the air to make the Burks and Knox tandem even better at receiver. At Houston, Briles had a wide receiver tandem that surpassed their achievements from the season prior his arrival. Marquez Stevenson and Keith Corbin really did well in their one stint in the Briles offense. Stevenson was +124 in yards receiving in 2018. Corbin really made a jump with his production being +527 in receiving yards and scored his first 10 career touchdowns. The kicker though? After Briles accepted the same position at Florida Atlantic the next season Corbin was -499 and scored only two touchdowns before deciding to redshirt after the first four games. Corbin could have similar production this season for Houston under Dana Holgerson.
With the +651 that Stevenson and Corbin put up in their lone season with Briles let’s use that as the standard for Burks and Knox. That would bring their total up to 1511 yards receiving for the 2020. If that is the goal that would mean both of them averaging 75 yards per game. The 1511 mark seems feasible though as the top two receivers in 2016 combined for 1492 yards in 13 games.
On a lesser scale, we can take Petrino’s first season with their two leading receivers D.J. Williams (723 yards) and Lucas Miller (490 yards) combining for 1213 yards in 2008. That is a +862 in yardage from those two from 2007 to 2007 under two separate head coaches and similar to the circumstances they will face this season.
History and stats are on their side according from this small tidbit of information. Fingers crossed, hog fans that we will see that vast improvement from 2019!