SEC Football Q&A: How Successful Will Arkansas' Running Game Be in 2013?

Barrett SalleeSEC Football Lead WriterMarch 28, 2013

Arkansas RB Jonathan Williams
Arkansas RB Jonathan WilliamsWesley Hitt/Getty Images


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And we're off:

@barrettsallee How successful will Arkansas' running game be this year?

— TheCheshireHog (@TheCheshireHog) March 28, 2013

Pretty successful, despite the losses of Knile Davis and Dennis Johnson.

A lot of attention will be paid to Alex Collins when he arrives on campus later this summer, and for good reason. The 5'11", 204 pounder from Fort Lauderdale made waves on national signing day when his mother took off with his national letter of Intent.

Before that though, Collins put together a stellar high school career. He rushed for 2,915 yards and 39 touchdowns during his final two years at South Plantation High School. With 4.4 speed in the 40-yard dash, he has home run potential but is also big enough to take the punishment between the tackles.

He will have to pry the ball from Jonathan Williams' hands though.

Williams rushed for 231 yards in spot duty last season, but the 6'0", 220-pounder was a hot shot prospect himself in the class of 2012. It's his time to shine, and Williams will likely exit spring practice as the presumptive favorite to win the job.

Is Arkansas' running back corp going to be comparable to Alabama's or Texas A&M's? No. But it's going to be better than advertised. With the receivers that the Hogs have, that might be all they need to get back to a bowl game in Year 1 under Bret Bielema.


@barrettsallee Who will step up offensively to carry the load for the Tennessee Vols in Butch Jones' first season?

— Gage Arnold (@GageArnold) March 28, 2013

A lot of attention is focused on the quarterbacks and wide receivers on Rocky Top, but the Vols return the SEC's top offensive line and a stable running game.

Because of that, I'm going to go with Rajion Neal as the biggest piece of the Vols' offensive puzzle.

Neal played well when healthy last season, rushing for 708 yards and five touchdowns in 10 games. The 5'11", 211-pounder moved back to running back full time last season, and another year of work behind an offensive line that returns four starters should benefit Neal even more in 2013.

The reception was mixed when Tennessee announced that Butch Jones was taking over, but his teams finished in the top two in rushing in the Big East in each of the last two seasons. 

Can he repeat the feat in Year 1 at Tennessee? Probably not, but it wouldn't be the most shocking thing in the world.


@barrettsallee Vanderbilt...believe in them in 2013? (I like skill players for sure)

— John Harris (@jharrisfootball) March 28, 2013

Nine wins is the bar, and that's a compliment to head coach James Franklin and the momentum he has generated in Nashville.

You're right about the skill players. Everyone talks about Jordan Matthews at wide receiver, but Chris Boyd isn't half bad himself.

Don't believe me? Just watch this video.

Toss in speedy running back Brian Kimbrow, the reliable Wesley Tate and Jerron Seymour (who's coming back from injury), and Vanderbilt's skill players are certainly legit.

Defensively, getting linebacker Chase Garnham back is going to be huge, along with defensive backs Andre Hal and Kenny Ladler.

Can a solid core on both sides get the Commodores into SEC East contention? That's a lot to ask. But judging from what we've seen in Franklin's two seasons at the helm, it's not out of the question.


Do you have a question for next week's Q&A? Send it to SEC lead writer Barrett Sallee via the B/R inbox, on Twitter @BarrettSallee or at