It's no slight to the Arkansas defense -- which was better in 2010 than you probably remember, except against the run -- to say that the star of the show in Fayetteville underis always going to be the offense. It's also going to be the key factor in deciding how any Petrino-led team is going to perform in a give season. So all of the major players in figuring out where things go next season are on the offensive side of the ball -- even though they can't get anywhere entirely on their own.
BIGGEST RETURN | RB Knile Davis
Even though he got quite a bit of attention for a running back in a system famed for its passing attack, it's easy to forget just how great Davis was last year. The then-sophomore ran for 1,322 yards and 13 TDs on 204 carries for an eye-popping average of 6.5 yards per attempt. The passing game was spread around quite a bit among a number of receivers, but Davis had almost half the rushing attempts for Arkansas (and more than half of all non-quarterback carries).
Davis also twice as many points as the next highest non-kicker on the team. Like the rest of Arkansas' offense, Davis could find out that replacing more than half of the offensive line is no small task. But with the team also breaking ina new quarterback, it can only help to have a quality running back returning.
KEY LOSS | QB Ryan Mallett
No need to try to be creative here; Mallett was too great to make any other choice plausible. Despite missing part of the Auburn game with an injury and being affected by that injury later, Mallett threw for 3,869 yards and 32 TDs against 12 INTs -- averaging 297.6 yards a game and garnering a 163.65 passer rating. Arkansas isn't doomed without Mallett, but its quarterback-centric system will lose a bit with him moving on.
BREAKTHROUGH POSSIBILITY | QB Tyler Wilson
I'm not quite as sanguine about the quarterback situation at Arkansas as Year2 is -- part of the reason I don't have the Razorbacks ranked higher -- because it's hard to draw any conclusions about a player who has attempted less than 110 passes in his career and no more than 51 in a single year. But the offense gives Wilson a chance, particularly given the relative success even newcomers had in Petrino's system at Louisville.