2009 record: 8-5, 3-5 (4th-tie in SEC West)
2009 bowl: Beat East Carolina 20-17 in Liberty
2009 final AP/coaches' ranking: Unranked
Coach: Bobby Petrino (13-12, 3rd year; 54-21 overall, 7 years)
Offensive coordinator: Garrick McGee (1st year)
Defensive coordinator: Willy Robinson (3rd year)
Returning offensive starters: 9
Returning defensive starters: 7
Location: Fayetteville, Ark.
Stadium: Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium (turf; 72,000)
Last league title: 1989 (Southwest)
2010 schedule: [view]
2010 roster: [view]
2009 statistics: [view]
Offensive: Arkansas has one of the nation’s most dynamic offensive units. Even if the Razorbacks must outscore opponents on offense on a weekly basis, they have the firepower to do that consistently. Junior quarterback Ryan Mallett, potentially the No. 1 overall selection in the 2011 NFL draft, had eye-popping numbers, including 30 touchdown passes and just seven interceptions, in his first season of play since his transfer from Michigan. His entire fleet of receivers — junior wideouts Greg Childs, Joe Adams and Jarius Wright, plus senior tight end D.J. Williams — has returned. There isn’t a true go-to running back, but there is depth and versatility at the position. Three starters, led by 6-foot-4, 315-pound senior left tackle DeMarcus Love, return to the offensive line.
Defensive: The pass defense was a disaster (251.5 yards, last in the SEC), so changes have been made. Cornerback Rudell Crim, a senior, has shifted to safety. Sophomore Darius Winston, one of the best recruits in recent Arkansas history, gets the start at cornerback. Combined with junior strong safety Tramain Thomas, defensive MVP of the Liberty Bowl, the Razorbacks are optimistic that the results will be a bit more positive. At linebacker, junior Jerry Franklin could become the first Arkansas player since 1960 to lead the team in tackles for three consecutive seasons. The best part of Arkansas’ defense is up front, where junior defensive end Jake Bequette and sophomore defensive end Tenarius Wright provide a more-than-adequate pass rush.
Specialists: Senior place-kicker Alex Tejada, who had critical missed field-goal attempts against Florida and LSU last season, is anything but secure. If his consistency doesn’t improve, the Razorbacks may look elsewhere. The same can be said for senior punter Dylan Breeding, who averaged just 38.7 yards. Junior Dennis Johnson, the backup running back, is one of the nation’s top kickoff return men. Last season, he averaged 25.8 yards and scored a touchdown.
Coaching: Bobby Petrino’s job-hopping reputation — remember the failed coup at Auburn? Remember him leaving an NFL team in the lurch? — has done nothing to improve his popularity. But say this for Petrino: The man can coach. He has remade Arkansas’ roster and the Razorbacks are once again a factor in the SEC.
Heisman hopefuls: Mallett probably is the most talented passer ever coached by Petrino — with all due respect to former Louisville quarterback Brian Brohm — and a prime candidate for a trip to New York in December.
Next up: No. 17 Florida State
CFT: Former Penn State signalcaller Steven Bench joined the South Florida Bulls, he announced on Twitter.
CFT: The University of Nevada is honoring longtime coach Chris Ault, who stepped down in the fall, by renaming the school's football field after him.
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