1. Rakeem Boyd is indisputably the best player on offense for the Razorbacks. But as we know, Feleipe Franks transferred there! How do you foresee this combination working for the Hogs this season?
Andrew Spanel: Well, a simple answer is that Franks should be the most talented quarterback that Arkansas has had over the last couple of years. He might be seen as a bit of a cast-off, but he did throw for 24 touchdowns and only six interceptions in 2018 before his injury the following season. As for the question itself, it’ll be interesting to see how he and Boyd operate in OC Kendal Briles’ offense. The Hogs felt like they had a chance in games last year when running the ball, which they never did enough. That may be the key again this year. However, Arkansas has enough talent at receiver that Franks might be able to take some of the pressure off Boyd.
Josh Rothenberg: The positive changes at not only the quarterback position but also at OC, with the hiring of Kendal Briles, can not be understated. Franks at minimum, is an average SEC quarterback, which is far above the level of play that the Hogs have seen at the position recently. Briles meanwhile, ran a Florida State offense that finished with solid numbers despite a struggling offensive line. Boyd should have to shoulder less of the load on offense this year, and the simple existence of a passing game, combined with Briles play-calling skills, should allow Boyd to thrive this season.
Michael McMurray: Rakeem Boyd is nasty. He’s probably one of the best running backs in the SEC. Franks has an arm that will stretch the field, he’ll be an upgrade over the 8 starting quarterbacks they’ve had in the past two seasons. With a vastly superior offensive scheme, I’m sure we will see Arkansas be fun.
Robert O’Neill: For a first year head coach like Sam Pittman, you can definitely do worse than a combination of Boyd and Franks. Personally, it feels like having a dominant running back will be a benefit early in the year as teams may be struggling to pass the ball due to lack of reps over the summer, but they always say, speed never goes into a slump.
2. Besides Boyd and Franks, who do you foresee breaking out on offense?
Andrew Spanel: As I mentioned, the receiving corps actually has some young talent that can be built around for the future. Receivers Mike Woods, Trey Knox, and Treylon Burks look quite promising. Also, don’t forget about sophomore TE Hudson Henry, the younger brother of NFL tight end, Hunter Henry. I’m going with Treylon Burks though. He didn’t score last year, but he has enough athleticism that he needs to be fed regularly, as evidenced by his additional use on punts and kickoff returns.
Josh Rothenberg: As Andrew mentioned above, there are a lot of young guns on this roster that could make the next step in a better offense. Woods, Knox, and Burks could easily be among the SEC’s better groups of receivers, but the key to fully unlocking the offense lies at the TE position with Hudson Henry. Graded as one of the better recruits in the country in his position, Henry had a disappointing injury-laden freshman season. The staff is positive about his development though, and could be a valuable safety outlet for Franks against a tough SEC slate.
Michael McMurray: As Andrew & Josh mentioned, the wide receiver class is ridiculously talented and is reaching the next step. If I had to choose one, Trey Knox has a great combination of size and speed making him a red zone threat for Franks.
Robert O’Neill: It feels like repeating what everyone else has already said, but plenty of receivers look primed to take that next step this season.
3. The defense for Arkansas is rich with experience, as there aren’t too many players who aren’t above the sophomore level that are likely to be starters. Who do you see making their mark?
Andrew Spanel: I think the wonderfully named Bumper Pool has to be the guy in the middle of the defense this year. If you’re looking for a younger guy, maybe defensive lineman Mataio Soli, but really the whole D needs to improve.
Josh Rothenberg: Bumper Pool should be a force in the middle of the field for this defense, but it’s safety Joe Foucha that I have my eye on this year. If Foucha can replicate his tackling performance from 2019, when he finished 3rd on the team with 87, and create a few more turnovers it would be a big boost for this team.
Michael McMurray: Joe Foucha got a lot of playing time for an absolutely dreadful secondary last year. He’ll be able to get a few more interceptions for a team that only had 6 interceptions last season. He’s still gonna get tackles, he was third on the team last season and I see him maintaining that group.
Robert O’Neill: I think I need to echo everyone else here and go with Bumper Pool. He definitely seems like a guy
4. Arkansas has had back to back 2-10 seasons. The abbreviated season this year prevents that from happening, but is there any chance that Sam Pittman guides this team to more than 2.5 wins in his first season at the helm?
Andrew Spanel: Man, as a Hog fan, I hope so. Really, it comes down to the games against Mississippi State, Ole Miss, and Missouri. Arkansas had maybe the worst team in school history last year, and I’m afraid it’s going to take time for them to learn how to win again even if they play these teams close. Maybe by the time they play Missouri, they’ll be ready.
Josh Rothenberg: With the changed schedule, it is going to be very hard to evaluate Sam Pittman’s coaching job based on the record of this team. They should definitely be much improved, but it’s hard for me to see them getting 3 wins this year.
Michael McMurray: There’s no way they get more than two wins this season. If it was a normal 12 game season, they’d probably win 4 games. With the new SEC schedule, there’s no way. However, this team will be more competitive and have more heart than they did under Chad.
Robert O’Neill: I hope so for their sake, but Arkansas is a team that will suffer greatly from the all-conference schedule. If they had a month of nonconference play to get going and work things out, they could probably get to 4-8 or something of that nature, but I don’t see it this year.
5. Give your prediction for Arkansas’ record this coming season.
Andrew Spanel: 1-9
Josh Rothenberg: 1-9
Michael McMurray: 1-9
Robert O’Neill: 2-8