When I discussed the Georgia Bulldogs Spring Game earlier this week I reminded everyone that we need to cool our jets a little bit when we talk about spring games. Sure they are important but they are really just another spring scrimmage glorified in front of fans. It’s important not to overreact to the good and the bad that we see. A lot of times play-calling is dialed down in these games such as the case of Arkansas where they didn’t allow blitzing in their spring game. All that being said, I came away from the Arkansas Spring Game more impressed than I thought I would.
On Saturday, Tyler Wilson put on a show in front of 42,000 Razorback fans on ESPN. Despite putting up 418 yards passing in a previous scrimmage this summer Bobby Petrino had still not publicly decided on a starting QB. On Saturday, Wilson went 12 for 25 for 242 yards and 2 TD. His primary competition, Brandon Mitchell, had a rough outing as he threw 3 interceptions while going only 11 of 29 for 85 yards. I think everyone knew coming in who should be the Razorbacks opening day QB and this just cemented it. Prior to the Spring Game I had already dubbed him as one of the SEC’s Breakout Players this year.
The biggest take away for me watching this scrimmage was just how many weapons Arkansas has on offense. We already talked about Tyler Wilson. Joining him in the backfield will be three very good RBs. Knile Davis didn’t have a good Spring Game but we know what he can do. He ran for 1,322 yards last year on 6.4 ypc and ran for 13 TD. They also have Ronnie Wingo and he looked like he’s really improved over the last year. In 2010 he gained 253 yds on 6.1 ypc and on Saturday he ran 11 times for 62 yards and a TD. He looks like he will be a factor this year. Dennis Johnson is also back after suffering a season ending injury last September. So that’s three very competent RBs that will aid Arkansas and help them have balance on offense. At receiver Arkansas just keeps throwing guys out there and they just keep producing. Jarius Wright, Joe Adams, Greg Childs, and Cobi Hamilton are all big time receivers and in my mind make out the best group of receivers in the country. Well, you can add another name to that list…freshman Marquel Wade. Wade is a 4-star freshman out of New York who enrolled early this year. He had four catches for 48 yards and made an impression.
Last year Arkansas made significant improvement on defense going from 12th in Total Defense in the SEC to 5th. At worst, I think the Razorbacks will be as good defensively this year as they were last year (which isn’t great but it’s good enough to get to a BCS Bowl and maybe more with some breaks). The toughest thing for Arkansas this year will be their schedule. They have three wins to start off but follow that up by playing at Alabama and then playing a neutral site game against Texas A&M. That is a brutal two game stretch as both of those teams are in our Pre-Spring Top 10. In addition to that they also play Top 25 teams South Carolina, Mississippi State and LSU and have a date against the defending National Champion Auburn. If one thing came out of the Arkansas Spring Game for me it’s that they are a team to take for real this year. Petrino isn’t going to take off in the middle of the night for any other job this year (had to throw that jab in there) and he’s had a couple of years now to install his offense. Arkansas looks like a Top 10 team to me right now.