NWADG College Football


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in each of the past three games at AT&T Stadium but has twice lost in overtime and struggled inside the 5 last year. Give this one to the hungry, hungry Hogs, with the Aggies projecting to be less dynamic at quarterback. 5. Can the Razorbacks average 200 rushing and passing yards per game? Almost. Bret Bielema's teams regularly av- eraged 200 rushing and 200 passing yards per game at Wisconsin, but he hasn't been able to reach that milestone at Arkansas. The Razorbacks came close in 2015, when they averaged 268 passing yards and 197 rushing yards in their first season with co- ordinator Dan Enos. 6. Will the Razorbacks produce a 1,000- yard rusher for the fifth consecutive sea- son? Certainly. Devwah Whaley should get enough action to surpass the 1,000-yard plateau as a sophomore to give Arkan- sas six 1,000-yard rushers in the past five years. He could approach 1,200 yards if the Hogs kick their run game up a notch, and graduate transfer David Williams could hit the 600-yard mark as Whaley did last year if he can get 130 with a 4.7-yard aver- age. It looks as if Chase Hayden, Maleek Williams and T.J. Hammonds will be the next three ball carriers. 7. Will the secondary be much improved? The signs say yes. Far too often, when the Razorbacks' defensive edge was breached last year, a defensive back was either blocked, screened, took a bad angle or whiffed. Solid tackling is expected to be a hallmark for coordinator Paul Rhoads. The group was a much better cover team in 2016 and should maintain that ability this fall, led by corners Ryan Pulley, Henre' Toliver and Kevin Richardson. Improved tackling at safety, led by Santos Ramirez, De'Andre Coley and Josh Liddell is the key to a better year. 8. Is there enough depth at linebacker to be effective in the base 3-4? This has always been the underlying con- cern with the scheme switch in philosophy. The outside positions will lend themselves to "hybrid" types, both ends and safeties, enabling them to stack personnel, and the Razorbacks have adjusted their recruiting designs to fit the scheme. Keeping Dre Greenlaw and De'Jon Harris healthy in the middle is paramount to a big jump in per- formance. The big question is whether the depth will hold this fall. 9. Will Arkansas rank in the top 25 in total offense, defense or in the polls? Tricky, tricky. It will be difficult for the last season's No. 76 defense to move up 51 spots. The offense, No. 54 with 428.4 yards per game, will need pick up about 40 yards per game, probably on the ground, to reach the top 25. We'll predict a No. 29 final slot here. If the Razorbacks beat well-regard- ed TCU on Sept. 9 and get over the Texas A&M hump two weeks later, they could start 5-0 and are definitely in the top 25 heading into Tuscaloosa, Ala. Beyond that, we'll see. 10. Will Arkansas improve on its 7-6 record in 2016? Yes. The Forecast is projecting an 8-4 regular season record for Arkansas. For record- picking purposes, we assigned two games — at Alabama and at LSU — as losses, five games as victories and these games as toss-ups: TCU, vs. Texas A&M, at South Carolina, Auburn and at Ole Miss. We have guessed the Razorbacks will go 3-2 in those swing games. In this scenario, if Arkansas wins a third bowl game in four seasons under Bret Bielema, the Razor- backs would hit the nine-victory plateau for the first time under Bielema. Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/BENJAMIN KRAIN Arkansas freshman running back Devwah Whaley runs for a touchdown Oct. 1 in the first quarter of the Razorbacks' 52-10 victory over Alcorn State. 2356 N. College • 479.521.7990 1860 N. Crossover • 479.443.8007 fayetteville, ar www.lahuertafayetteville.com Free Cheese Dip When you buy an entree (Only with this coupon at La Huerta) Authentic Mexican Food Monday-Thursday 4-8 pm No Appointment Necessary – Walk-Ins Welcome 3317 N Wimberly Dr • Fayetteville (479) 521-0091 • www.ozark-ortho.com CARE TODAY s Orthopaedic Care on YOUR Schedule Injuries rarely happen between 8 and 5. • Do you have time to wait at the ER? • Why overspend when you might pay only your insurance co-payment? Ozark is ready to assist whenever injury strikes and provide the specialized care you deserve. Sunday, August 27, 2017 29 NWA Democrat-Gazette College Football Preview v Continued from preceding page PH TO REPRINTS available for purchase online at nwadg.com/photos

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