When Bobby Petrino’s Arkansas Razorbacks walk off the field following their nationally televised Spring Game on April 16th, they aim to be more optimistic about the 2011 season than they have any other.
The Hogs entered this offseason after winning six of their last seven games—the only loss coming on a nail-biter to Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl. (Side note: if you’re a jewelry collector, search eBay for “Buckeye Sugar Bowl rings.” I hear their players have built nice seller reputations.)
As most teams in college football can expect, key positions must be replaced if Arkansas wants to set its sights on consecutive BCS bowl bids. Most notably, the Razorbacks lose three starters on the offensive line, the Mackey Award winner for nation’s best tight end in D.J. Williams, three defensive starters and, of course, the SEC’s leading passer from a year ago, quarterback Ryan Mallett.
Though refilling these shoes will clearly be on the minds of Coach Petrino and his staff, fans in the state of Arkansas see the big picture, and that picture remains flooded with talent.
Despite the buzz surrounding Fayetteville, the holes vacated must still be filled and enhancements must continue to be made on both sides of the ball. The defense improved from 89th nationally in 2009 to a respectable 36th in 2010, while the offense returns a 1,300-yard tailback in Knile Davis and four receivers who each amassed at least 600 yards and five touchdowns last season.
But with every new day comes an opportunity for improvement, and what better time than spring to see who’s ready to step up? In the spirit of inquiry, here are some looming questions the Hogs look to answer before heading into the grind of summer.