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What's Left for Arkansas: Playing Out the String on John L. Smith's Season


A look at the road ahead for the SEC's most hapless teams

Let's go ahead and get this much out of the way: John L. Smith will not be back to coach the Arkansas Razorbacks in 2013. Sure, if Jeff Long wants to be fired himself and potentially watch Fayetteville razed to the ground by outraged fans, there's a chance. But barring that, there will be another head coach for the Hogs when they take on Louisiana(-Lafayette) next August.

The question for Arkansas fans in the interim is: What can they expect from here on out? Of course, there are some wild-card factors in that, including when Tyler Wilson can finally return to the field. But Wilson can't play defense, meaning that the Razorbacks are likely in for a difficult remainder of the year one way or the other.

Remaining schedule: Rutgers, at Texas A&M, at Auburn, Kentucky, Ole Miss, Tulsa, at South Carolina, at Mississippi State, LSU

What's wrong: What isn't? The running game has ground to a halt, with Arkansas rushing for just 106 yards a game, last in the SEC. The defense allowed 322 yards to Jacksonville State before seeing that number spike to 550 in the overtime game against Louisiana-Monroe and 438 against Alabama. Arkansas is giving up an average of 5.3 yards per play. Offensive passing yardage is the only major statistical category in which Arkansas doesn't rank in the bottom half of the SEC -- and they rank seventh in that.

Rays of hope: The offense could get a bit better if Wilson comes back. And Arkansas is 119th in turnover margin, averaging -2.7 a game. With six of those lost possessions coming on fumbles (the only turnovers that are almost completely dependent on luck), there's reason to think that number could turn around at least a bit.

Prognosis: If Wilson returns and the defense can improve at least some, none of those games except for LSU is a ridiculous stretch. But the games at Texas A&M, at South Carolina and at Mississippi State could all be daunting tasks. (And don't miss the Kentucky vs. Arkansas matchup if you like games that are so bad they're entertaining.) A bowl game isn't out of the question, but the Hogs have very little margin for error if their play doesn't dramatically improve.