Arkansas spring practice preview
Spring practice kicks off at Arkansas on Wednesday as the Razorbacks look to continue to remain one of the top programs in the SEC.
Let's take a look at some of the storylines that will play out over 15 practices as the Hogs prepare for their spring game on Saturday, April 21.
2011 Record: 11-2, 6-2 SEC
Will Wilson have any receivers at his disposal?
ICONTyler Wilson bypassed the NFL Draft for one more season with the Hogs.
Quarterback Tyler Wilson, who led the SEC in passing yards, total offense, passing efficiency and completions in his first year as the starter, is one of the most prolific and toughest quarterbacks in the country. But he will have a lot on his shoulders in the fall with top receivers Greg Childs, Jarius Wright and Joe Adams departing. The spotlight will be on senior Cobi Hamilton, who averaged just under 16.0 yards per catch in 2011. Tight end Chris Gragg will also see his numbers increase this season. But the Hogs' offensive staff is surely hoping that a few players out of a group comprised of Marquel Wade, Quinta Funderburk, Julian Horton, Madrecus Humphrey and Javontee Herndon are able to pick up the offense and produce early in the season. Keep in mind that head coach Bobby Petrino was really hoping to land Dorial Green-Beckham, the top recruit in the Class of 2012, or Notre Dame signee Davonte Neal to help out in the passing game. So while there are concerns on defense, maintaining a strong passing attack will be crucial for Arkansas, which had its first 11-win season since 1977, to have any chance of winning the SEC West.
A healthy Davis
Running back Knile Davis broke out in a big way in 2010, rushing for 1,322 yards to lead all SEC backs. He added 13 touchdowns on the ground, and he averaged 147 yards over the final seven games of the season. But he was lost for 2011 when he fractured his ankle in preseason camp. However, he said that he's "100 percent and ready to ride" and that's huge for this offense as Wilson gets more comfortable with his pass-catching options. But there is concern because of the running back's history of injuries. The broken ankle was his third going back to high school, and he has also suffered a broken collar bone. New coordinator Paul Petrino, who arrived from Illinois after Garrick McGee left for the head job at Alabama-Birmingham, will likely ease him back into the fold. However, expect the Hogs to lean on Davis when the season begins.
Questions on defense
New defensive coordinator Paul Haynes, who arrives from Ohio State, is challenged with the task of elevating this Razorbacks defense to the level that Petrino expects it to reach if the Hogs ever want to break through and knock off the likes of Alabama and LSU. He'll be aggressive and creative, but the Hogs must replace two starting linebackers, two starters in the secondary as well as pass-rushing defensive end Jake Bequette. They do return end Tenarius Wright, however, and he needs to become a dominant force off the edge.
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