2. KEYS TO THE SEASON
Biggest Key To The Arkansas Offense
How about start by not screwing up? There’s plenty of talent to get excited about, but it’s young, several parts are being thrown together, and the offense has a whole needs to be more consistent. But first, the O has to move the chains, and second, it has to stop giving up the ball.
The Hogs were dead last in the SEC by a mile in third down conversions, coming through a pathetic 31% of the time. The offense only past 35% four times.
The turnovers, though, were what turned games into ugly routs, with the O giving the ball away 26 times on the season and two times or more in ten games. The fumbles were bad, but the interceptions were worse. More on that in a moment.
Biggest Key To The Arkansas Defense
The back seven needs the depth and the rotation to emerge in a hurry. It was a great spring for the D under coordinator John Chavis, but there are still positions to be solidified and a rotation needing to be found at most of the spots. Fortunately, the starting group should be good out of the gate – and the secondary has to immediately play well.
The Hogs only came up with five picks on the year and got bombed on late, giving up 16 touchdown passes with just two interceptions over the final seven games. Worse yet, the D allowed over eight yards per pass, with only Tulsa and North Texas failing to hit the 63% completion mark.
Key Player To A Successful Season
QB Ben Hicks, Sr.
Or Texas A&M transfer Nick Starkel. To be fair to 2018 leading passer Ty Storey, he wasn’t exactly throwing to Antonio Brown and DeAndre Hopkins, but it was still a rough season with ten interceptions and not enough third down plays. Cole Kelley wasn’t much better, hitting just 52% of his throws with five interceptions.
Hicks was okay last year at SMU without Chad Morris at the helm, but he lost his star receivers from the 2017 team. Two seasons ago, he threw for 3,569 yards and 33 touchdowns, but he gave up 12 picks.
Starkel is a bigger option, but he doesn’t know the O quite as well. He was good as a freshman at Texas A&M – throwing for close to 1,800 yards and 14 touchdowns – but Jimbo Fisher came in and went with Kellen Mond.
No matter how this shakes out – likely Hicks for this year and Starkel next season – the position needs to be a plus.
Key Game To The Arkansas Season
at Ole Miss, Sept. 7
It’s the cliché early statement game. The Hogs should beat Portland State to start, and yes, they should beat Colorado State after last year’s debacle of a loss. They should also get by San Jose State, so a win in the SEC opener over Ole Miss will almost certainly mean a 4-0 start with a winnable game against WKU down the road.
The Hogs had a four-game winning streak over the Rebels before last season’s 37-33 loss. Lose this one, and the program will be on a 12-game SEC losing streak with the last win coming in 2017 … at Ole Miss.
– Arkansas Schedule Breakdown & Analysis
2018 Arkansas Fun Stats
– 4th Quarter Scoring: Opponents 113 – Arkansas 66
– Red Zone TDs: Opponents 35-of-57 (61%) – Arkansas 16-of-37 (43%)
– Average Yards Per Interception: Opponents 11.3 (on 18) – Arkansas 1.1 (on 5)