Arkansas finished the 2016 season with a record of 7-6, 3-5 vs. SEC opponents. The Razorbacks must succeed in the SEC conference in the future to rise above those average records produced year after year. They haven’t won more than 8 games since 2011 when they earned 11 wins under the tutelage of former Head Coach Bobby Petrino.
Arkansas will have to make great strides to improve their pass protection situations, short yardage running and conversions in the red-zone. Austin Allen had a very good first half in the 2016 season with 18 touchdowns and only 6 interceptions and a 63 percent completion rating through his first 7 games. One of Allen’s most productive games was against Alabama where he was able to put up 400 yards in the air. Allen will be returning with his lead running back, Rawleigh Williams, who last season finished with 245 carries for 1360 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Arkansas could possibly have one of the best SEC duos at running back with Williams and Devwah Whaley. Allen along with Williams and Whaley should benefit with a better offensive line, returning 4 starters. The most established being at the center position with Frank Ragnow. Fans of Arkansas are hoping they protect Allen better this season against the pass rush. In 2016 the offensive line allowed a devastating 35 sacks.
Jared Cornelius is their returning leader at the wide receiver position. Cornelius finished 2016 with 32 catches, 515 yards and 4 touchdowns. Other than Cornelius, Arkansas has a fleet of inexperienced wide receivers. Sophomore wideout Deon Steward should see plenty of action coming into 2017.
The Arkansas defense allowed an (FBS) worst and a school record 39 rushing touchdowns. New Defensive Coordinator Paul Rhoads has moved the defense to a 3-4 front with the blessing of Head Coach Bret Bielema. A sound move after considering the previous coordinator’s 4-3 defense was ran all over repeatedly by other SEC teams, averaging 258 yards on the ground per game.
Reports are saying Bijhon Jackson and Austin Capps are expected to start at the defensive tackle positions, while McTelvin Agim and Armon Watts will lead a pack of very inexperienced defensive ends. The redshirt freshman’s Briston Guidry and Jonathan Marshall could also have an impact in the rotation. Dre Greenlaw, Junior, is the returning linebacker. In the secondary Kevin Richardson, recovering from a torn pectoral muscle, is expected to be 1 of 6 defensive backs with starting experience. Ryan Pulley is one of the SEC’s most underrated cover corners in the game.
According to 247Sports Arkansas recruiting class of 2017 finished 27th in the nation and 10th in the SEC. They bring in zero 5 star recruits, four 4 star recruits, and twenty 3 star recruits. Some of their key recruits are Chevin Calloway, CB, Dallas, TX and Montaric Brown, S, Ashdown, AR.
2016 TEAM STATS:
The Razorback offense was 57th in the nation and 8th in the SEC in scoring. They were 78th nationally in rushing and 11th in the SEC. In passing, they finished 32nd in the nation and 3rd in the SEC. In total offense they ranked 54th and 8th.
Defensively, Arkansas was 85th nationally and 10th in the SEC for scoring. Defending the run, they were 94th in the nation and 10th in the SEC. Defending the pass they finished 58th in FBS and 8th in the SEC. In total defense they ranked 76th and 8th.