Will new leadership make Arkansas a contender? Find out in our 2013 Arkansas Football Preview.
After one of the most disappointing seasons in Arkansas history, complete with a lowly 4-8 record, it was clear that changes had to be made. The Razorbacks just seemed unable to click together during the 2012 season, and the loss of Bobby Petrino clearly left Arkansas without a leader.
2013 Arkansas Football PreviewEnter Bret Bielema, one of the most storied coaches in Wisconsin history. Bielema will now be forced to get a new nickname after becoming the Arkansas head coach last December. A master recruiter, Bret will have to make his program more attractive now than ever now that he’ll have to compete against other scouting powerhouses such as Alabama and LSU.
Luckily for Coach Bielema, the Razorbacks already have a capable roster that can compete against the top level competition, a trait that’s become commonplace within the SEC. In fact, several players have spoken to the family enviroment that Bret has created in only five months, and it appears that the athletes have rallied around their new sense of togetherness.
No one has testified to this more than sophmore quarterback Brandon Allen, the Razorback’s starting quarterback. Allen admits that last year he felt there was “little leadership from the coaching staff”, but after gaining the starting role right before the Razorback’s spring game it’s clear that Allen has grown leaps and bounds since his freshman year. His passes are more accurate, his play recognition is beginning to develop, and most importantly, his confidence is growing. Not only is confidence a key element to facing tough defenses, it is also the main trait that Coach Bielema looks for in any player. Much like Russell Wilson had to do at Wisconsin, expect Bielema to give Allen the reigns of the offense and let him grow by gaining experience that the Razorbacks so desperately need.
Even if Allen lives up to everything Coach Bielema wants and expects, Arkansas just doesn’t appear to have nearly enough depth to be a top tier competitor. And when you consider that every offensive stat leader from last season is gone, the combination of having no leaders and being a shallow team will prove to be too much for Arkansas to overcome this season. Arkansas will look to gain most of their offense through the air due to their coaching scheme, but unfortunately they are two to three years away from being able to this well, based on the current talent they have.
And don’t expect the defense to be able to bail out their lackluster offense. Much like the offense, the defense has five or six positions with a severe drop-off in talented players. High-octane offenses like Georgia or Texas A&M will have little or no problem putting up 40 points against the Hogs.
Simply put, Arkansas is in serious rebuilding mode. Between recruiting new talent and progressing the players they currently have, Arkansas has their hands full.
Even though signing Bielema has changed the culture for the Razorbacks, there are just to many good teams in the SEC for Arkansas to even eclipse a .500 record. So if you’re a Razorback fan, your goal in 2013 should be to make it to a bowl. Any bowl. Because if you do, you’ve overachieved.
Thanks for checking out our 2013 Arkansas Preview. Tomorrow we examine Tennessee.
—Special to the Capstone Report By Alex DeRemer.