Arkansas Razorbacks Preview 2022: Previewing, predicting, and looking ahead to the Arkansas season with what you need to know and keys to the season.
Arkansas Razorbacks Preview
Head Coach: Sam Pittman, 3rd year, 12-11
2021: Overall: 9-4, Conference: 4-4 2021 Preview
Keys To The Season | Season Prediction, What Will Happen
Arkansas Top 10 Players | Arkansas Schedule & Analysis
Arkansas Razorbacks Preview 2022
On a national scale, it really did get lost in the 2021 narrative.
Georgia was the star of the SEC, Alabama was Alabama, Lane Kiffin was Lane Kiffin, Florida was imploding, LSU was crashing, Tennessee was fun, Auburn wasn’t, South Carolina was surprising, Texas A&M and Mississippi State were relatively disappointing, and …
Arkansas won nine games.
It’s the SEC program without the flashy brand name head coach, it didn’t have a huge national superstar, and it got the job done with great line play, solid defense, and with a smart style that worked.
There was one bad performance against Auburn. The other three losses came to Ole Miss (a 52-51 shootout that could’ve gone either way), Alabama (a great gut-check fight to make it 42-35), and Georgia (no shame there).
All that, and remember, winning three games in 2020 against an all-SEC schedule was considered a huge step forward under head coach Sam Pittman. The program won 11 games over four years and hadn’t won more than eight since 2011, and now it appears to be poised and ready to be an even bigger player.
It’s still the SEC West, and the schedule appeared to go out of its way to create unnecessarily dangerous matchups in non-conference play, but this team has the potential to be even better than the 2021 version, even if the final record doesn’t show it.
And this time, Arkansas will get the national attention.
Arkansas Razorbacks Preview 2022: Offense
The offense took off under offensive coordinator Kendal Briles, and now it should keep on rolling. In theory, the Arkansas offense works best when the great offensive line is able to control the game and bash away, but the rushing attack is more about open spaces than power.
The Hogs led the SEC in rushing, had the tenth-most efficient passing game in the country, and averaged 442 yards and 31 points per game overall.
KJ Jefferson turned into a star. The 6-3, 245-pound junior was a rushing threat – 664 yards and six scores – hit 67% of his passes, threw 21 touchdowns and just four picks, and now he’s got the experience to blossom and do even more.
The passing game lost Treylon Burks to the Tennessee Titans, but in comes Jadon Haselwood from Oklahoma to go along with a few nice deep threats. Burks was special, but there’s enough talent back to be fine.
The offense line might be not be the best in the SEC, but it shouldn’t be too far off. Center Ricky Stromberg and guard Brady Latham are rocks for the ground game, but this group has to be far better in pass protection. There were too many tackles for loss allowed.
Jefferson led the team in rushing, but Raheim Sanders and Dominique Johnson can handle the workload in the rotation. They’re big backs with speed.
Arkansas Razorbacks Preview 2022: Defense
The defense needs to find more of a pass rush, and there were a few games when things just didn’t work, but overall there was a huge improvement under former Missouri head man Barry Odom. The D allowed over 400 yards just four times after giving up that many or more eight times in ten games in 2020 and nine times in 2019.
There wasn’t enough of a pass rush last year, and it doesn’t help to lose the guys who produced. 245-pound hybrid Zack Williams is the leading returning sacker with just 3.5, but the production will come from all over to let the big front three hold up against the run.
Bumper Pool has the game to go along with the name as one of the SEC’s best all-around linebackers. With Pool combining with Alabama transfer Drew Sanders, the Razorbacks have a good combination to work around.
The Hogs get as many defensive backs on the field as possible – they’ll often work with a 4-2-6 alignment. There might be a few key losses, but the group that helped generate 13 picks last year has a good group returning helped by big-tackler Jalen Catalon coming back after missing half of last year with a shoulder injury.
The transfer portal brings a big boost with Latavious Brini coming in from Georgia to take one safety spot and Dwight McGlothern stepping in from LSU to take over at corner with Greg Brooks going the other way to Baton Rouge.