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Arkansas, under first-year coach Sam Pittman showed some improvement in 2020. They were 3-3 after the first six games and would have been 4-2 if the referees hadn’t blown a call taking a victory away from them at Auburn. They lost their last 4 games and ended the season with a 52-3 loss to Alabama which dampened the early momentum they had. They welcome 17 starters back to Fayetteville in 2021 and enthusiasm is high for the Hogs. They have a difficult schedule so it might take another year or so of continued Top-25 recruiting and building up the talent base to get back to the top division in the SEC.
Offense: QB, Felipe Franks entered the transfer portal after the season and backup KJ Jefferson had a good spring and was given the job for 2021. He made one start in the season finale and threw for 295 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for another one. He is a big key to Arkansas’s season. Trelon Smith rushed for 710 yards last year and he returns along with T.J. Hammonds. All-SEC wideout Treylon Burks (51 catches for 820 yards and seven touchdowns) is back and there are two good tight ends in Blake Kern and Hudson Henry. The offensive line returns all five starters and they are bigger and stronger after going through the offseason conditioning program.
Defense: The Arkansas defense returns three players who stood out in 2020. All-SEC linebacker Grant Morgan who had 111 tackles, and 2nd-teamers, safety Jalen Catalon and linebacker Bumper Pool return. Catalon leads an experienced secondary that returns 4 starters. The defensive line needs to find a pass rush that can get to the opposing QBs as the Razorbacks only recorded 14 sacks. The linebacking group is as good as any in the SEC.
9/18 Georgia Southern
10/23 Arkansas-Pine Bluff
The non-con schedule features four home games. Rice and Pine Bluff are gimmes and they should beat Georgia Southern. Razorback Stadium will be sold out and rocking when old Southwest Conference rival Texas comes to town. This game is very winnable and if the Hogs can pull off a win one the Longhorns, they will have a ton of momentum to build on.
9/25 Texas A&M at Arlington
10/9 at Ole Miss
11/6 Mississippi State
11/13 at LSU
11/20 at Alabama
The schedule is tough as Arkansas drew Georgia on the road from the East division. That is more than likely a loss. They have games at LSU and Alabama which will be difficult as well. A key game will be at Ole Miss and that is a 50-50 game that could be big in achieving a winning season. They have a must win at home against Mississippi State and the other two home games with Missouri and Auburn are winnable. The neutral site game against A&M will be entertaining as the Razorbacks always play the Aggies tough.
Summary: Pittman has the program heading in the right direction and needs to keep adding talent. The non-conference schedule has three wins for sure and maybe four. If they win a couple of close games in the conference they could pull out a winning season and a bowl berth.
Predicted Finish: 6th Place in the SEC West
Overall Record: 6-6
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