NWADG College Football


Issue link: http://www.epageflip.net/i/1017602

Contents of this Issue


Page 39 of 47

40 Arkansas Football Sunday, August 26, 2018 The SEC schedule-makers couldn't have planned it much better. Mississippi State fans should be grateful that Mullen stayed in Starkville as long as he did and led the Bulldogs to seven consecutive bowl games and a 69-46 record. But no doubt the Bulldogs and their fans will be hyped to beat Mullen because that's just the way it is when someone leaves you. New Mississippi State Coach Joe Moorhead should be grateful to Mullen as well, con- sidering the talented team he left behind in Starkville. 7. AUBURN AT MISSISSIPPI STATE, OCT. 6, STARKVILLE, MISS. This will be a matchup of two of the nation's top quarterbacks with Jarrett Stidham for Au- burn and senior Nick Fitzgerald for Mississippi State. The game also could go a long way toward determining if the Tigers or Bulldogs will be the top challenger to Alabama in the SEC West. Both teams have strong defensive fronts, so even with the star power at quarterback, it might turn into a low-scoring game. Mississippi State has the home-field advan- tage, but the Bulldogs will be coming off what figures to be an emotionally draining game against Florida and former Bulldogs' coach Dan Mullen while Auburn will have a noncon- ference game against Southern Mississippi the previous week. 8. FLORIDA VS GEORGIA, OCT. 27, JACKSONVILLE, FLA. This game may return to national relevance if Florida Coach Dan Mullen can find a play- maker at quarterback and revive the Gators quickly. For sure the game should have national title implications for Georgia, which looks to be a power for years to come under Coach Kirby Smart. Mullen was riding high at Mississippi State last season when the Bulldogs started 3-0 — including a 37-7 pounding of LSU — before running into Georgia. Georgia provided of a dose of reality for a good, but not great, Mississippi State team by beating the Bulldogs 31-3 between the hedg- es. Georgia beat Florida 42-7 five weeks later, which ended Jim McElwain's time as the Ga- tors' coach and opened the door for Mullen to take over the program. 9. ALABAMA AT LSU, NOV. 3, BATON ROUGE, LA. Is there anything LSU fans want more than to beat Nick Saban? Saban won a national championship at LSU in 2003, but he's won five titles at Alabama since 2009. LSU fans can't help but wonder what would have happened if Saban has stayed in Baton Rouge rather than become the Miami Dol- phins' coach. Would LSU now be dominating the SEC in- stead of Alabama? And if Saban was going to return to college football, did it have to be with the Crimson Tide? Alabama has beaten LSU seven consecutive times since the Tigers won the teams' 2011 regular-season matchup 9-6 in overtime. The Crimson Tide won the rematch that sea- son 21-0 in the Sugar Bowl to win the national championship. 10. AUBURN AT ALABAMA, NOV. 24, TUSCALOOSA, ALA. Auburn's Gus Malzahn is the only SEC coach left who has beaten Alabama under Nick Sa- ban, and he's done it twice. The Tigers beat the Crimson Tide 34-28 in 2013 in Malzahn's first season as Auburn's coach and won last season's Iron Bowl 26-14. Tommy Tuberville, a Camden native, beat Ala- bama six consecutive times as Auburn's coach from 2002-07, including 17-10 in Saban's first season with the Tide. Now it's Malzahn, also an Arkansas native, who has been a thorn in Alabama's side. In addition to being 2-3 against Saban and Alabama as a head coach, Malzahn was Au- burn's offensive coordinator in 2010 when the Tigers rallied to beat the Tide 28-27 en route to winning the national championship. SEC v Continued from Page 39 Arkansas FAQ 2018 By Tom Murphy 1. WHO WILL WIN THE STARTING QUARTERBACK JOB? Perhaps it's appropriate to discuss this from short-term and long-term perspectives. Ty Sto- rey's devotion to film study and steadiness with the starting unit has appeared to give the red- shirt junior a leg up over Cole Kelley, the more prototypical quarterback with a higher upside but more up-and-down and less maturity to his game. The coaching staff did not let on who had the edge at starter or who was rising fast- est among the freshman cluster of Daulton Hy- att, Connor Noland and John Stephen Jones. The long-term answer could come from that trio if the veterans falter. There's a greater likeli- hood of three quarterbacks playing vs. Eastern Illinois than one. 2. CAN THE DEFENSE BE BETTER THIS FALL? The real question is will it be marginally better or substantially better, because it will improve in Season One under coordinator John Cha- vis. There is veteran talent to work with on all three levels and the man coverage capabilities of Ryan Pulley, Chevin Calloway and company should allow Chavis to run a variety of blitzes. Truly, there is nowhere to go but up for a unit that gave up 196 rushing yards, 242 passing yards and 36.2 points per game in 2017. The Razorbacks also allowed 48 percent third down conversions and a school-record 42.13 points per SEC game. 3. WILL THE HOGS HAVE A 1,000-YARD RUSHER? No. Though any of the five contenders are well capable of hitting the 1,000-yard milestone, it's unlikely because the carries will be spread among Devwah Whaley, T.J. Hammonds, Chase Hayden, Rakeem Boyd and Maleek Williams. Whaley seems to have solidified the top job, and he's in much better shape than last year, but Hayden and Hammonds have shown the chops to be effective backs in the SEC and Williams' camp was off to a rousing start at the halfway point. Boyd's talent is un- deniable and if has the conditioning together and the playbook down, he should contribute as well. 4. WILL DE'JON HARRIS AND DRE GREENLAW POST 100 TACKLES AGAIN? Doubtful. It's John Chavis' preference that he rest his two standout linebackers enough during games that they can be sturdy at crunch time and won't have to reach triple digit tackles. For the last several years, the Razor- backs have seemed to be stuck on using only two or three reliable linebackers. The hope is Grant Morgan, Dee Walker, Hayden Henry, Bumper Pool and perhaps others will play well enough to spread the tackles around better. 5. WHAT WILL THE RECEIVER ROTATION LOOK LIKE? Jared Cornelius, Jonathan Nance, La'Michael Pettway and maybe Mike Woods looked like the top bunch coming out of spring. However, in training camp speedsters De'Vion Warren, Jordan Jones and Gary Cross made quick pushes, while walk-ons Tobias Enlow and Ty- son Morris have made their presence known since the arrival of Chad Morris, coordina- tor Joe Craddock and position coach Justin Stepp. Deon Stewart, second on the club with 33 catches last year, has some catching up to do after a brief hamstring issue in camp. Sophomores Jarrod Barnes and Koilan Jack- son, coming off knee surgery, and 6-5 transfer Chase Harrell cannot be ruled out. Can Nance lead the team in receptions two years in a row or will someone knock him off? 6. OVER OR UNDER 25 SACKS? We're taking the over, based on the veteran talent on the roster and the propensity of Cha- vis teams to find ways to strike opposing quar- terbacks. The Razorbacks did limited pressure packages last season and had trouble zeroing in on the passer on many of them. Their suc- cess rate will go up this fall, and they will also cause more hurried passes. 7. WILL A TIGHT END LEAD THE TEAM IN RECEPTIONS? This could definitely happen, based on how well players at the spot performed in the spring. Cheyenne O'Grady tied for third on the team with Jordan Jones with 21 catches last year and his role as a pass catcher should expand. A full year of conditioning has done wonders for Jeremy Patton, who was nicked up with an ankle injury for a time in camp, but he should blow well past the 11 catches he had last year. Austin Cantrell, a primo block- er, had 13 catches in 2017. Grayson Gunter's receiving bonafides have flashed here and there, so it's not a stretch to say he could be a breakout star in the new offense. NWA Democrat-Gazette File Photo/BEN GOFF • @NWABENGOFF The Razorbacks' defense is expected to be better this season under defensive coordinator John Chavis — the only real question is, how much better? v Continued on next page

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of NWADG College Football - 2018