Published August 5, 2011 - 8:30am
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Saturday Down South previously looked at a major question mark on this Arkansas team entering 2011, and that is the offensive line. That unit was quite good last year, but it certainly has several unanswered questions this coming season.
While that is of utmost importance, I think it is also important to note that Arkansas’ main safety valve in the passing game, tight end DJ Williams, is now gone.
Williams was the leading receiver last year for the Hogs, with 54 catches for 627 yards and four touchdowns.
An additional question I have for the Razorbacks’ offense this season would be this – who will Arkansas turn to on third and five or six – i.e. third and medium?
Petrino recently spoke to the hole Williams leaves at tight end:
“That’s what we need to learn as an offense, how to convert third downs, and not only at quarterback, but we lost that tight end we used to go to a whole bunch,” Petrino said. “When you’re missing that third-and-medium guy with tremendous confidence, we now have to have some guys step up.”
With all the firepower this offense returns at the skill positions, I’m sure Petrino will find someone to fill that vacant go-to role.
However, Petrino is looking for a tight end to step up in this offense, and there are no really proven ones as of right now.
Tight end Chris Gragg looks to be the starter at tight end, and he hopes to be that go-to player Tyler Wilson can lean on in third-and-five situations. The one weakness for Gragg looks to be his blocking ability. I’m not sure he is there yet and ready to be mentioned in the same breath as Williams as a blocker.
I do look for wide receiver Greg Childs to be a big-time possession receiver and someone Wilson can really go to in similar situations as Williams last year, as I expect Arkansas to run slightly less I-formation running plays with a blocking tight end. Petrino will cater his play calling to his strengths, but he obviously won’t abandon the blocking tight end even if no one is proven either.