Arkansas moved the football on the ground like no other team in the SEC last season. It was one big key to a 9-win season. The Razorbacks amassed 2,961 total yards rushing. That’s nearly 100 yards more than Georgia, the nearest competitor, and the Bulldogs played 2 more games than Arkansas.

Yes, the Hogs made it happen on the ground. Most impressive is that 4 of their top 5 rushers were freshmen or sophomores. All return, and with that experience, should make the Arkansas attack at least as imposing.

The passing game could certainly use some beefing up. Only South Carolina, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt threw for fewer yards last season. So, with a 6th overall ranking in total offense among SEC teams, will the Razorbacks be better or worse on offense in 2022?

Here’s a very early look at each group and a determination on whether it will be better or worse than last year’s.

Personnel: Better

Key losses: WR Treylon Burks, RB Trelon Smith, OL Myron Cunningham

Key returnees: QB KJ Jefferson, RB Dominique Johnson, RB Raheim Sanders, OL Ricky Stromberg

Potential breakout players: WR Warren Thompson, WR Jadon Haselwood

Of course, replacing a talent like Burks is never easy. The first 1,000-yard receiver at Arkansas since 2012, Burks had nearly as many receiving yards last season as the next 4 receivers combined. His 66 receptions and 11 touchdown catches each rank 2nd on the program’s single-season all-time list. He ranks 3rd with 1,104 receiving yards.

There are some big shoes to fill in the trenches as well, but head coach Sam Pittman in his 3rd season at Arkansas has done well in using the portal to fill gaps.

But as far as returning talent and experience, the Razorbacks should be a year better with most of the production returning.

Passing offense: Better

Despite losing a 1st-round NFL-caliber receiver like Burks, the passing game as a whole should be better because of experience. Jefferson returns after a full year of starts. The incoming junior should be a better quarterback based solely on experience, although the numbers he put up last year were quite impressive. It was a season for the record books, literally.

His 6 TDs responsible for against Ole Miss ranks 2nd all-time at Arkansas for a single game. The 27 scores responsible for were the program’s 5th-best all-time for a single season. His 411 yards of total offense racked up against Ole Miss is 6th for a single game, and his 3,340 total yards ranks 7th on Arkansas’ single-season list.

Taking care of the football was perhaps his biggest attribute. Jefferson threw for 21 TDs and was picked off just 4 times and never more than once in a game.

Just how much better Jefferson can get remains to be seen. The passing game struggled in the bowl game without Burks. We don’t know what Jefferson’s ceiling is, but hopefully last season was only a prelude of what he can become.

Of course, he’ll have to have receivers catch the football to complete the connection. Without Burks, it’s a fair question to ask who will emerge? At least there are a couple of candidates.

Jadon Haselwood could be the next go-to guy. The Oklahoma transfer led the Sooners last season with 39 pass receptions. Used more as a possession receiver, he averaged 10.23 yards per catch. Can he transform into the home run threat the Razorbacks desperately need?

Warren Thompson is another possibility. He averaged 16 yards per catch on 19 receptions in 2021 and looks to far exceed that number this season.

There may not be another 1,000-yard receiver in the bunch, but collectively they should make the Arkansas passing game just a little more potent in 2022.

Running game: Worse

That sounds like a knock, but really there’s no room to go but down from last year’s SEC-best 2,961 rushing yards, which also ranked 10th nationally. That ranks 10th on the program’s all-time single-season list. You have to go back to the 2006 season to find an Arkansas team that rushed for more.

If the Razorbacks should improve on that, then they should end up with double-digit victories in 2022.

I just don’t see it happening, for two main reasons.

The first is that I’m not sure Pittman wants to risk Jefferson to injury by asking him to carry the ball that many times. He rushed a team-high 146 times in 2021. That’s asking for trouble, especially for a quarterback.

The 2nd reason is that Arkansas has at least 2 running backs capable of handling the bulk of the carries. Raheim Sanders and Dominique Johnson combined for 211 carries last season (1,153 yards, 12 TDs).

Though the run game will still be a strength in 2022, but reaching the same numbers as last year might be too much to ask for.

Kicking game: Better

This will be interesting to monitor. Cam Little was nearly automatic last season, nailing 20-of-24 field goal attempts, and ranked 3rd in the SEC with an 83.3% accuracy rate, but Arkansas’ kick return was near the bottom of the conference.

Can Little maintain the strong leg in 2022? Perhaps, but it wouldn’t be out of the question for Little to suffer somewhat of a dip.

There’s plenty of room for improvement, however, in the kick return game. Arkansas ranked 11th in the SEC averaging 17.28 yards per return. As far as total yards is concerned, only Kentucky and LSU had fewer kick return yards than Arkansas’ 311.

It remains to be seen if AJ Green returns to that chore. He returned a team-high 9 kicks last season, averaging 16.33 yards per return. You have to believe that whether it’s Green or someone else, that those numbers would be improved upon.

Overall: Better

Sure, there are big shoes to fill from an Arkansas offense that ranked 6th in the SEC last season, averaging 30.9 points per game — their best output since the 2015 team average 35.9.

But with what should be one of the more solid offensive lines in the SEC to keep Jefferson upright and open up running lanes for Sanders and Johnson, the Razorbacks should improve, even if slightly, on last year’s output.