If you talked to Arkansas fans back in February, this was supposed to be the week that the Hogs celebrated their rise from pretender to contender.
It was supposed to be a week full of celebration following a win over the defending national champion Alabama Crimson Tide. It was supposed to be a week where the Razorbacks carried a top-five ranking into an out-of-conference tune-up versus Rutgers.
Two losses, an injury to quarterback Tyler Wilson, one shutout to Alabama and a wild press conference later, Arkansas finds itself heading into the Rutgers game desperate for stability and craving a win.
There is good news, though. Quarterback Tyler Wilson has been cleared by doctors following a concussion suffered in the loss to Louisiana-Monroe and will start for the Razorbacks on Saturday night, according to ArkansasSports360.com.
But will that matter?
He will certainly help against the Scarlet Knights. Arkansas' offense has been woeful in his absence, but when he's healthy, there's no denying that Wilson is one of the best quarterbacks in the SEC. The uncertainty about his status was one of the primary reasons that the point spread for the game opened as a pick 'em but moved to a nine-point game by Friday (lines via VegasInsider.com).
Long term, however, I'm not so sure he would have led Arkansas to its ultimate goals anyhow, considering all of the other issues on this team.
I'm not even sure Bobby Petrino would have either.
While Wilson's injury and John L. Smith's press conferences have made headlines, Arkansas still hasn't solved its two biggest problems from last season: the offensive line and defense.
Wilson got hit on virtually every play, but an offseason of work coupled with the return of running back Knile Davis was supposed to take some pressure off of him.
Instead, his protection got worse, which ultimately led to his injury.
New defensive coordinator Paul Haynes was supposed to be the cure to the Willy Robinson blues, but so far, he's been as much of a liability as his predecessor.
The Hogs currently rank 95th in the country in total defense, giving up 436.7 yards per game. For reference purposes, the Hogs gave up 305.7 yards per game through their first three games last season versus Missouri State, New Mexico and Troy.
Granted, Jacksonville State, Louisiana-Monroe and Alabama is a tougher stretch to open the season. But 131 yards per game better?
Arkansas fans are upset with how this season has played out, and rightfully so.
John L. Smith will take the majority of the heat for the debacle, but defensive coordinator Paul Haynes, offensive coordinator Paul Petrino and, yes, even former head coach Bobby Petrino deserve some of the blame as well.
Arkansas can't protect the quarterback and can't stop opposing offenses.
Those aren't new problems, and would have prevented Arkansas from being a legitimate contender in 2012, even if Petrino hadn't wrecked that motorcycle.
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