Published June 25, 2012 - 4:37pm
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All of Arkansas’ offense goes directly through the quarterback. It’s really no big secret. But one thing that seems to be a misconception is the Hogs power-spread offense relies heavily on solid production from the running game.
In 2011, Arkansas’ starting QB, Tyler Wilson (6-3 220 lbs.) of Greenwood, Arkansas, led the Hogs to a Cotton Bowl Championship, an 11-2 finish, and a No. 5 ranking in the final polls. He also became the first Razorback to be named 1st Team All-SEC at QB position. Even former Arkansas QB’s Ryan Mallett, Matt Jones and Clint Stoerner never accomplished that feat.
Wilson took over after Mallett left early for the NFL. Doubters were quick to point out that Wilson virtually only played one game during his sophomore campaign, the Auburn game in which Mallett was hurt. Wilson completed 63.5 percent of his passes in 2011, for 3,638 yards, 24 TD passes, and only six INT. Anyone take a 4-1 touchdown to interception ratio every time.
Tyler elected to skip the 2012 NFL draft, where he looked to be a surefire first rounder. As long as he stays healthy, and the offensive line is improved enough to keep him upright. Wilson has the talent, the arm strength and accuracy, and the intelligence to guide this Razorback offense to new heights.
Behind Wilson are two relatively unproven players. Brandon Mitchell (6-4 230 lbs. 4.5), a junior from Amite, Louisiana, who backed-up Wilson in 2011 and may fill that role again this season. Mitchell has been seen working out with the receivers on occasion, but his elusiveness and arm strength are undeniable. Mitchell likes to play for the Hoop Hogs in the off-season, which he did this past school year.
The third QB on Arkansas’ roster is redshirt freshman Brandon Allen (6-3 215 lbs. 4.55) of Fayetteville. Allen has been pushing Mitchell for the back-up role behind Wilson, and offensive coordinator, and QB’s coach Paul Petrino has been impressed. Allen is very accurate, and he did not throw a single interception during the regular season of his senior year of high school. Do not be surprised to see Allen get some valuable playing time early in 2012.
In 2010, Arkansas RB Knile Davis (6-0, 226 lbs. 4.3) led all SEC running backs with 1,379 yards and 13 TD. Davis did most of his damage in the final eight games of the season, where he displayed great power and rare breakaway speed for a back his size and was the second half player of the year. He was poised for a wonderful 2011 season, right up until he broke his ankle in pre-season drills.
Davis, a redshirt junior from Missouri City, Texas, healed quick enough that, if he had been permitted, could have played in Arkansas’ Cotton Bowl victory this past January. But the Hogs coaches have been cautious with Knile, not even allowing him to take any contact in the spring. As long as KD can stay healthy, he will be a true force to be reckoned with in 2012 and should provide the power in Arkansas’ offense.
Behind Davis, Arkansas will look to the 2011 leading rusher (106 att 670 yds, 3 TD) in senior Dennis Johnson (5-9, 213 lbs. 4.4) of Texarkana, Arkansas, as well as senior Ronnie Wingo (6-3, 231 lbs. 4.3) of St. Louis, Missouri, and redshirt freshman Kody Walker (6-2, 240 lbs. 4.5) of Jefferson City, Missouri.
Johnson is a bowling ball, who can outrun defenders to the edge, or run over them with his low center of gravity. Johnson is listed at 5’9″, but he’s probably closer to 5’7 1/2″. Wingo is a speedster with great hands, who caught 20 passes for 187 yards and 2 TD last year. Walker is Arkansas’ power back, and should fill the role that former Hog Broderick Green held the last three seasons. Walker is a load to stop.
Arkansas’ main RBs are a complement to one another. This could be the strongest RB position in the SEC for 2012.
Arkansas did sign three RB’s in the 2012 recruiting class. Nathan Holmes (6-1, 190 lbs. 4.4) of Port Arthur, Texas, Donovan Roberts (6-0, 205 lbs. 4.4) of Norman, Oklahoma, and Jonathon Williams (5-11, 205 lbs. 4.4) of Allen, Texas. Williams has the speed, power and quick change of direction to play some this season, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see all three redshirt.
Providing there are no health issues to Tyler Wilson, Knile Davis and the rest of the backs, this group should be the best and one of the most difficule to stop, not only in the SEC, but nationwide.
In the next Arkansas Breakdown, we will look at the defensive linemen.