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Can Arkansas Play The Role of Spoiler in 2021? Part One

With expected improvement and crucial home games Arkansas could spoil a couple of seasons this fall.

Tennessee v Arkansas Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

The Razorbacks have a ways to go to reestablish their football program. The problem hasn’t been recruiting though. If one looks across the roster, Arkansas has 24 former four-star prospects sprinkled across their roster which is good enough for ninth in the SEC.

A lot of people say stars in recruiting don’t matter but I can say that’s a lie. If Arkansas wants to compete in the SEC they will obviously need their stars to play to their potential and their lower rated players exceed expectations. Which means at least half of the 68-percent of their roster needs to develop. If 2020 was a picture of the future it is very possible they can.

KJ Jefferson’s play at quarterback during the Missouri game should give Hog fans reason to believe their future at the position boasts promise. Two former four-stars in Jefferson and Malik Hornsby will give the room competition but there isn’t much reason to expect anyone by Jefferson be the starter but it does give Arkansas security like they had at the position in 2010 when Ryan Mallett was injured in a game versus Auburn and backup Tyler Wilson was inserted. Wilson would show his rising stardom and give fans hope for the future. You could see it playing out the same this season.

Taking a team to the next level will be the quarterback play. Having a quality signal caller is the difference between sitting at home during bowl season and having a memorable season.

The problem shouldn’t be the offensive line since Sam Pittman and Brad Davis won’t disappoint in year two with them. There are no stars in the starting lineup but there are guys who have played a lot of snaps and improved. If they can block well enough the running game could be a surprise this season. Two four-star backs in Rocket Sanders and AJ Green could make this offense even more lethal. Not having to worry about the always hard running Trelon Smith but also Green and Sanders could wear down an opposing defense. Something that could also make the Razorbacks sneaky good. Then, you have an utility player like former four-star, TJ Hammonds who can touch the ball and get you 15-20 yards in a blink won’t hurt either.

There’s a lot of star depth in the wide receiver room with the return of megastar Treylon Burks. Four-stars Trey Knox, Jaquayln Crawford and Darin Turner are guys that you hope can prove their dependability this fall. You also have unsung hero De’Vion Warren who proved to be an impact player last season before being injured against Florida.

The Razorbacks will have more talent at receiver than a lot of teams this fall. An addition of future star in the making, four-star Ketron Jackson could be a game changer. All these guys need is a quarterback to get the ball to them. They already have that so this offense could be set. Add in pass catching tight ends Blake Kern and former four star Hudson Henry and this offense could be as prolific or more than they were down the stretch in 2020.

Arkansas ranked eighth in their first season under first-year offensive coordinator Kendal Briles. At just under 400 yards per game last season, the Razorbacks were much more potent than the previous three seasons. Third down conversions and points for will need to be up this fall and there’s not a doubt in my mind that those two things are being worked on. Those numbers likely will go up though with the addition of non-conference games after a full 10-game SEC conference-only schedule last season.

My thoughts: Arkansas averages around 420 yards per game in 2021. According to last years SEC total offense chart that would rank Arkansas sixth in conference.

30 points per game should be the standard at Arkansas under Briles from this point forward. Their 25 points per game last year was good enough for eighth but if they can raise that just five points per game they would be sixth. A thirty point average could be the difference between three conference wins and five.

So, who’s season can they spoil?

Road games versus Alabama, Georgia, LSU and Ole Miss will be tough ones. The Tigers of Baton Rogue hope to return to form this fall but I’m not totally sold on them under Ed Orgeron this season. Arkansas was close to beating them in 2020 at home but can they seal the deal a week after playing a road game against Alabama? I’m not sure.

However, Georgia will play hosts to the Hogs for the first time since 2010. For three and a half quarters in last years season opener, Arkansas played them close. If the Razorbacks pull this stunner off in Athens, that could catapult them to a potential run for top three in the SEC West.

Obviously, knocking Texas out of the playoffs in week two could push the Razorbacks momentum and fan excitement to another level. This could be possible with the Longhorns breaking in a new head coach in Steve Sarkisian in a wild Fayetteville home game.

UPSET WATCH: September 11 vs Texas and October 2 at Georgia.

Book it!

Offense doesn’t win games alone but it sure does help to have one that scores points. Speaking of points, Arkansas has a defense that could possibly limit teams in scoring. However, we’ll get to that tomorrow since you’ve already read a 700 word synopsis about the offense.

If you enjoy my content on Arkansas Fight, you’ll likely find what I say on Twitter entertaining, too. Give me a follow @jacobscottdavis. Go hogs!