Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Spor
RB Jonathan Williams
As bad as the year was, the good news for Arkansas is that it returns a solid number of starters and key contributors for 2014.
Technically, the Hogs return a total of 12 starters on both sides of the ball. However, Arkansas has a number of guys that played just as much as the starters that will also be coming back to The Hill.
Returning Starters: 6
Offensive Line: Brey Cook, Denver Kirkland and Dan Skipper
Quarterback: Brandon Allen
Running Back: Jonathan Williams
Wide Receiver: Keon Hatcher
The strongest parts of the Arkansas offense were on the offensive line and in the backfield. Freshmen Kirkland and Skipper got invaluable experience in their first year in college by starting in the SEC. Both had some growing pains as they were thrown into the fire early in their careers, but they played very well and are the future of the O-line. Cook will also be back for his senior year, so the Hogs will only have to replace two starters.
They paved the way for a prolific rushing attack headed by Williams and freshman Alex Collins. Williams was listed as the starter, but Collins got 40 more carries than he did, so both can be considered starting backs. They should be one of the best duos in the SEC in 2014.
The biggest question marks will be at the quarterback and wideout positions.
Allen was the man under center this year, but his job is nowhere near safe. His struggles were well-documented, and he will be fighting for his job during the offseason. Receivers will also need to step up. Hatcher should be the go-to guy, but behind him, there are no proven wideouts.
Returning Starters: 7
Defensive Line: Trey Flowers and Darius Philon
Linebacker: Brooks Ellis and Braylon Mitchell
Secondary: Will Hines, Tevin Mitchel and Alan Turner
Yes, the defense returns the majority of its starters, but they are from a unit that was porous.
Like the offense, the defense is going to have to make major strides in the coming months and position battles are sure to ensue. Two starters who should have no problem keeping their jobs are defensive end Flowers and tackle Philon. Flowers will be a senior leader and Philon, who has a very bright future, moved into the starting lineup during the season as a freshman.
Mitchell will be a senior and the most experienced in 2014. Freshman Brooks Ellis moved into a starting role late in the season and should be a fixture in the middle for the next few years. The Hogs have to replace Jarrett Lake, who was the most consistent of the group.
In the secondary, Arkansas will get Hines back after his sophomore year was ended with a broken arm. Freshman Jared Collins played admirably in his absence and will have a key role as well. The Razorbacks will have two seniors defending the pass in Mitchel and Turner.
Mitchel has plenty of skills and ability, but has been inconsistent in his career. Turner's return is big for a secondary that had all sorts of problems defending the pass. He was the team leader in tackles for 2013 with 97 total, 20 more than than the second-leading tackler.