Arkansas Offensive Line
Arkansas had some serious firepower in 2010 led by Ryan Mallett and Knile Davis. They averaged 37.3 points per game (second in the conference only to Cam Newton and Auburn). They averaged 489.3 yards per game of offense. As we look to 2011, we like to talk about the potential of Tyler Wilson, how Knile Davis will run for 1500 yards and the wide receivers might be the best group in the country. We often fail to address a major question mark for this team and that is the offensive line.
The biggest loss from 2010 is DeMarcus Love who was selected in the NFL draft by the Minnesota Vikings. Love was an exceptional tackle and dependable the entire season in 2010.
In addition to losing offensive linemen Ray Dominguez and Wade Grayson, Arkansas is also without stud tight end D.J. Williams.
Making matters worse, Petrino recently dismissed Anthony Oden (brother of NBA player Greg Oden) for repeated run-ins with the law. Oden wasn’t a superstar, but he is 6-foot-8 and weighed 320 pounds. The tackle spot was a question mark with Oden, and is indeed a weak spot without him.
True freshman Brey Cook, junior college transfer Jason Peacock and senior Grant Freeman are three players that will see action at tackle Cook and Peacock both had decent spring practices.
To solidify the weakness at tight end, Petrino moved defensive end Colton Miles-Nash to tight end.
The bottom line is that the offensive front isn’t as strong as it was last year. A consistent strength in 2010 will turn into a major question mark. We know what Knile Davis can do, we know that Arkansas is sitting pretty at wide receiver, and we have good reason to believe that quarterback Tyler Wilson will be above average. The question is how much will the young and inexperienced offensive line hurt the Petrino offense in 2011?
Petrino and his staff will work hard to make adjustments to compensate for the weakness, but there’s only so much you can do. We all know how an offense can be thrown off the tracks by a dominant defensive front. The Auburn defensive front against Oregon comes to mind.
During Arkansas’ first three games against Missouri State, New Mexico and Troy, the biggest thing I want to see is how the offensive line works. In week 4, this line will get massively exposed by Alabama if they don’t figure out how to play as a cohesive unit. Alabama might have the best defense in the country, and they will be ready to take it to this young offensive front.