C Jonathan Luigs

2007 Statistics

Coach: Bobby Petrino
1st year
2007 Record: 8-5
TROY WON 46-26
at Alabama LOST 38-41
at Mississippi WON 44-8
FIU WON 58-10
at Tennessee LOST 13-34
at Louisiana State WON 50-48 (3OT)
Missouri LOST 7-38

2007 Final Rankings
AP-31, Coaches-39, BCS-UR

2008 Outlook

It's a new day for Arkansas football. The politics of Houston Nutt's departure actually unified much of the fan base, and in a good way. Nutt stepped down willingly after the general pubic took out an ad in an early '07 local paper to tell him of their displeasure with his (lack of) effort. New AD Jeff Long, who replaced legend Frank Broyles (50 years of service at UA), must have been working some back-room deals to assure Nutt's departure was so smooth and the hiring of the school's 30th head coach, Bobby Petrino, quickly followed Petrino's last days in Atlanta (with the NFL Falcons). Unlike at West Virginia, where we all know the alums/fans will never forgive former coach Rich Rodriguez for the way he departed, the healthy transition should provide a seamless flow into the upcoming season.

Petrino brings his own legend, the stuff that will have fans recognizing little from what they have seen since football here began. The changes have everything to do with bringing a viable aerial assault to the ground-oriented personnel already trained to run, run, and keep running. If you have never heard of the quarterback here, then you don't know Dick...Casey Dick, that is, or his brother, backup Nathan. And you definitely don't know about his arm's ability since he's only thrown for 200 yards in a game twice in three years. What's almost amusing is that, as a dual-threat prospect with 4.6 speed in their used-to-be, age-old running attack, Casey also was rarely allowed to use his wheels (he's had only five career carries that resulted in positive yards in his career). The new administration has brought in Garrick McGee to help Paul Petrino bring his technician up to speed, and all signs point to the elder Dick finally hitting on all pistons. The next biggest question after the ones concerning the overall offensive approach/look have to do with who replaces one of the best RB tandem in the last decade at this level. Flying under the radar while Jones and McFadden were ruling the roost, Mike Smith will finally be the man, but Barnett and newbie Curtis are the durable types who will have a place...remember how much Petrino likes big backs? And do you remember how well the Petrinos procure no-name receivers into huge producers? People who think there aren't any sets of capable hands will soon find this out. With a strong line to facilitate the offensive proceedings, points will come, at times in droves.

But in the SEC, it's all about defense. New coordinator Willy Robinson is being put to task: solve the run-stopping troubles in the front seven with the same basic parts, and keep the secondary strong, even though they turned most of the starters over. Robinson has a background working with DBs, so new blood back there will fall in line without the past system to confuse them. The LBs and DLmen are a rag-tag bunch; like everyone else, they are reborn under Robinson's system. Lessons learned will hopefully equal better results, but just due to having another year at this level, they will be better. We think the biggest question marks are on this side of the ball - what happens here will most define the season and how many wins come.

The mental aspect needed to approach this schedule is to take one game at a time. OK, so the first two are gimmes, and the Razorbacks surely realize their first real game is in Austin. And that introduces a four-game span as tough as any in college football - at Texas, home tilts with Alabama and Florida, and then at Auburn. Emerging from these first six games with a winning record would answer any lingering questions about whether the new-look Razorbacks have arrived yet. Even going 3-3 would mean a win against one of these powerhouses (none is currently in our top five, but each could easily be by the time UA gets to them). It's not like they win out from there, but the rest of the games look as though Arkansas can compete for the win with each opponent.

Anyone who's been sleeping since November wouldn't recognize this team, except for the uniforms. Like so many staunch programs, this 102-year old Arkansas team has proudly denied the new-fangled gridiron changes as long as possible. But with the coaching turnover - like we've seen at Auburn, Nebraska, Michigan and Ohio State in the past decade - new regimes have meant needed updates. Like at OSU, once these changes are embraced and put into motion on game day, fans will wonder why their guys waited so long to implement them. With the mind of Petrino spearheading the new era, it won't be long before the hardcores are naming their kids Bobby.

Projected 2008 record: 5-7
QB - 3 DL - 3.5
RB - 3.5 LB - 3
WR - 2.5 DB - 3
OL - 4 ..
2007 Statistical Rankings
Total Off:
Sacks Allow:
Total Def:

Passing: Casey Dick, 150-262-10, 1695 yds., 18 TD

Rushing: Michael Smith, 46 att., 303 yds., 3 TD

Receiving: Andrew Davie, 14 rec., 115 yds., 3 TD

Scoring: Alex Tejada, 17-23 FG, 58-60 PAT, 109 pts.

Punting: Jeremy Davis, 60 punts, 40.0 avg.

Kicking: Alex Tejada, 17-23 FG, 58-60 PAT, 109 pts.

Tackles: Freddie Fairchild, 92 tot., 54 solo

Sacks: Freddie Fairchild, 4.5 sacks

Interceptions: Jerell Norton, 5 for 174 yds., 1 TD

Kickoff returns: Michael Smith, 5 ret., 22.2 avg., 0 TD

Punt returns: Jerell Norton, 18 ret., 7.9 avg., 0 TD


LB Freddie Fairchild
OFFENSE: Peyton Hillis-FB, Marcus Monk-WR, Robert Johnson-WR, Robert Felton-OG, Nate Garner-OT, Darren McFadden-TB (NFL), Felix Jones-TB (NFL)
DEFENSE: Marcus Harrison-DT, Fred Bledsoe-DT, Chris Wade-DE, Weston Dacus-MLB, Michael Grant-CB, Matterral Richardson-CB, Matt Hewitt-SS, Kevin Woods-FS, Freddie Fairchild-LB (dismissed)

After leaving Louisville as one of the top offensive minds in the game, Bobby Petrino and his OC brother Paul arrive in the heartland, a place where running the ball has been a part of the football proceedings for decades. What a break for Casey Dick, the supposed dual-threat who has never been tapped for his 4.6 speed and was barely ever tapped for his arm by ex-coach Nutt. Former OU quarterback Garrick McGee has been brought in to bring Dick up to speed in the spread types of looks now seen. McGee's Northwestern offense was the top passing squad in the Big Ten last year, and he created similar magical results at his stop in Toledo. Casey has really embraced the revamped scheme. "It's a great offense to be in," Dick said. "If you see a look, and you don't like it, you're able to change the protection, change the whole play if you need to, so it's squarely on your shoulders. You've got to know what you're doing." If his 33-for-49, 404-yard, two TD performance in the final spring scrimmage didn't confirm he's doing well so far, then it says the Razorback DBs are in need of more work. Petrino & Co. are confident the balance seen two years ago in Louisville will translate here immediately with a healthy Dick. Younger brother Nathan is eerily similar in prep numbers and a step faster in moving around the field, but he isn't nearly ready to take over, so a healthy older sibling will bring the most wins.

More than the overall scheme, the biggest question this off-season pertains to the running game and how you replace two All-Americans who have been here since forever. McFadden is irreplaceable for the entirety of what he brought to the table, but his production shouldn't be hard to find. As many could already guess, starting the same backfield for nearly four years means lots of capable runners have been waiting for 2008. Maybe the best running back you've never heard of, Michael Smith has averaged nearly seven yards per carry his entire career. This scat-back has speed and soft hands, but durability will be the question with Smith (he had an abbreviated senior year of prep due to injury, though, he squats 515lbs). Brandon Barnett, like Smith, was brought here by Nutt, but this JUCO product is destined to be the bigger back in RB rotation. Supposedly a step faster, Barnett has to be in the mix since Smith has to get a hernia fixed, as well as dealing with a hip pointer on one side and a bruise on the other. Still, Smith had 61 more yards in the spring scrimmage on four less carries than Barnett, showing production even when banged up, so Smith is the top back. De'Anthony Curtis is the No.6 RB in this year's national incoming class, and he looks like a durable type who can take some of the hits meant for the others to keep all healthy. Both fullbacks will be H-Backs with few touches to add to their stat lines. This RB unit is decent, but depth will come into play if this small handful is hurt.

Maybe the hottest spring session was had by David Williams, an Algie Crumpler-type who seems pretty tough to bring down. "D.J." is ahead of incumbent Andrew Davie, quite a statement since Davie is strong in both aspects of tight ending. And speaking of snarlers, London Crawford had the longest catch (61 yards) of '07, but this deep threat has to get over his tendency to drop a few per game. Salters had a huge spring to shore his starting spot, but Fish and Miller have been pushing him and Wade all spring. Wade was a Scout Team hottie, and big things are expected if his position on the learning curve remains as vertical as it's been. Jarius Wright is this year's No.30 WR prospect, but the corps has been strong enough in its development that he might redshirt. That's some statement when you consider how the 2007 incoming class only had one receiver amongst the recruits...really, who knew of the changes to come? Petrino brings in three WRs besides Wright, so help is on the way. The wildcard is ex-dual-threat QB Joe Chaisson, an athletic specimen who could fit here if given the shot. Chaisson opens the playbook with his versatility.

The holes will come with last year's Rimington winner (finalist in '06) Jon Luigs leading the new blocking schemes. This local's engineering degree is appropriate for having the line built around him. Mike Summers is another Petrino follower, providing boss Bobby with his OL coach since 2003. His 2004 Cardinal line earned 3,005 rushing yards, so anyone thinking similar rushing numbers to what have been seen here for the past three years cannot happen again is sadly mistaken. Mitch Petrus has a tight end/fullback past and a pension for abuse to earn his All-SEC nod. Jose Valdez had a breakout campaign at left tackle, starting there after being no more than a glorified reserve prior to 2007. Allowing 13 sacks in last year's run-heavy attack isn't such an amazing feat, but it means Valdez is a lock there still (after holding onto the spot last year until his ankle gave way toward the end.) Ray Dominguez has far surpassed his two-star recruiting ranking, and after almost getting the nod at left tackle when Valdez went down, he has slid into the opposite tackle slot nicely. Then-frosh DeMarcus Love bumped into a starting role by the end of '07, and now he's the starter at right guard. Wade Grayson was employed right out of high school, but the other redshirts from his incoming class are now ready and are the future of the program…and a versatile bunch, at that.

Expect a balanced attack that leans on the run a bit more than the pass - Coach Bobby seems to have a consistent philosophy that transfers from team to team, so until he plays his hand differently, expect his combination of conservative and creative to challenge defenses.


OG Mitch Petrus


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB Casey Dick-Sr (6-2, 215) Nathan Dick-Fr (6-4, 217)
Alex Mortensen-Jr (6-2, 220)
FB Lance Thompson-Sr (6-4, 227) John Durmon-Jr (5-11, 217)
RB Michael Smith-Jr (5-7, 173) Brandon Barnett-Jr (5-10, 206)
WR Marques Wade-So (6-3, 192) Rod Coleman-Jr (6-1, 192)
WR Carlton Salters-So (6-0, 191) Lucas Miller-Jr (6-3, 201)
WR London Crawford-Jr (6-2, 200) Reggie Fish-Sr (5-7, 160)
TE D.J. Williams-So (6-2, 250) Andrew Davie-Jr (6-5, 266)
OT Ray Dominguez-So (6-4, 315) Grant Cook-Fr (6-6, 320)
OG Mitch Petrus-Sr (6-4, 305) Kareem Crowell-Fr (6-4, 333)
C Jonathan Luigs-Sr (6-4, 314) Seth Oxner-Fr (6-4, 300)
OG DeMarcus Love-So (6-5, 302) Wade Grayson-So (6-4, 292)
OT Jose Valdez-Sr (6-5, 313) Michael Aguirre-Jr (6-6, 315)
K Alex Tejada-So (6-1, 207) ..



It's very basic - if you cannot stop the run in the SEC, you're pretty much done. From the prior year, Arkansas' run stopping gave up 45 more yards per game (160.2) in ‘07. Consistency was the main issue. New coaching can take what was and often turn the same into much more, but even that is no guarantee for improvement. Regardless, it will have to be - six starters return to the front seven, and the venerable Willy Robinson has the task of finding better run stopping results. Robinson is a DB guy (safeties specifically), so he will rely on assistant Kirk Botkin (from UL Monroe), further putting in doubt the team's defensive destiny since Botkin has never coached a DL before now (he will oversee the ends, specifically).

The attitude of Antwain Robinson works well in letting out aggression when it's found on the field, but such has also made his future muddled after he lost the starting assignment mid way through 2007 due to off-the-field immaturity. Ex-safety Adrian Davis (cousin of Philadelphia Eagles DB Michael Lewis) was tapped in Robinson's wake and found the spot something he liked, so Davis kept it for the rest of 2007. Their stat sheets show similar results for the two, which makes the right end possibly the second-strongest position on the team (next to center). Hard work and improved athletic ability over the off-season have secured local RS frosh Jake Bequette for the other start ahead of incoming classmate Damario Ambrose, who was actually brought along last year more quickly than Bequette, and subsequently lost his redshirt. We guess that the local legacy's time on the scout team paid off, and then to pass the proven Ambrose speaks volumes. They will shuffle in and out for each other ala Davis-Robinson, making the left end spot theirs as a pair of 1-1a guys. Ernest Mitchell has been great since his sophomore season, but knee-surgery this off-season allowed other to get needed first team reps. Mitchell brings penetration in the middle, but holding in his lane more will help stop runners. Cord Gray has to take his shot (like Mitchell did as a soph) to displace his predecessor for the start, but that isn't likely since he has yet to fulfill a starters role and this is his last chance to dance. Malcolm Sheppard slides back over after filling in at end; he is properly sized to play anywhere up front as evidenced by his 10 total TFLs from his split assignment. Consistency has earned Pat Jones the reserve nod over Lampkin (needs weight to go with his 6'5 size in order to get the push he needs), Shavers (shoulder surgery) and all-around athlete Stumon.

The linebackers are a bit thin due to the arrest and subsequent suspension of Freddie Fairchild. Expected to lead the corps, Fairchild has never had any troubles before, so his 50-50 prospect of return means eyes will focus forwards until he's back. That means Freddy Burton gets to show what he's learned since last year's true freshman campaign. Fairchild tore his ACL in 2006 after his Freshman All-American effort out of the gate, and 2007 proved how he's not quite yet all better. Burton seems better in coverage being an ex-safety with excellent speed, but the option of having both is a great problem to have. Jerry Franklin brings even more speed (also an ex-safety), and his knowledge from being an all-state prep RB/WR seems to have him making moves with authority and precision. He'll have to stay strong to hold off Jermaine Love. Love played as a true frosh, too (like Burton), and Love's sheer strength and tenacity (with speed, to boot) make up for his sub-6' stature and make him a prototypical fit at MLB (he'll be found near the line most often). The leader of the pack, if Fairchild is still missing, will become senior Elston Forte, another local ex-safety who finally earned time in the starting rotation for the first time last year and showed some decent chops. But Forte's hold on the WLB spot isn't so strong since Ryan Powers is in favor. The future of the weakside is Powers, but he has a bit of developing to do, and this off-season has proven that growth occurred as needed. This is an underdog corps that seems to have over-achievers written all over them. UPDATE: LB Freddie Fairchild has been dismissed from the team.

DC Robinson gets almost an entirely new neighborhood of DBs to shape into his secondary. That will likely mean a step back for what was the No.2 pass efficiency defense. But with Lorenzo Ward coming from Virginia Tech - a place that accentuated his ball-hawking ethics - the DBs should remain in the top echelons for INTs (T-10th in the nation with 20). Having Jerell Norton to build around is definitely an asset, for he is good enough to be left out there alone (only four of his 34 tackles were assisted). Five INTs (one returned 100 yards for a score) and 10 pass breakups as mainly a nickel/reserve in '07 will give the new guys a leader by example and a lockdown corner in Norton. The 6'1 NLR-local on the other side is Jamar Love; three sacks prove his direct approach works at the line as well as it does in coverage(s). Madison's stock will rise as he overcomes his true freshman mistakes, and we think he gets the nickel nod more often than perennial Shedrick Johnson will with Johnson’s inconsistent showings. Baton Rouge product Darrell Glasper came out of the blue into the mix this spring, offering needed help (had the most INTs in scrimmage-type settings of all UA DBs). Central Christian's Joe Adams may get a look upon arriving, if he doesn't convince the staff he should play on offense (WR). Depth at corner is suspect past the second string, and Robinson may have to get creative if injuries occur. Robinson couldn't ask for a better lineage to tap for talent, but with Matt Harris - Dallas Cowboy legend Cliff Harris's son - keen instincts seem to be, well, instinctual. Harris makes a few bad decisions still, hence his failure to start until now. Ex-WR Rashaad Johnson really improved his status seeing how he was starting by season's end, so Johnson will push Harris to stay sharp, or else be replaced by last year's sixth leading team tackler. Dallas Washington showed up this spring and proved to the new regime that his troubles on the field are ironed out to a large extent. Washington is a strong guy in coverage, but he has never put together a strong effort since arriving three years ago. Hard-hitting Brett Harris is on the upside of his learning curve. Walner Leandre's no-show this spring due to shoulder injury gave the strong safeties time to compete, but as the guy with the best raw ability at the position, his return will shuffle the two-deep again. There is enough backfield talent that Robinson will have a good, solid group by fall. Moreover, the individual units all seem to be self-reliant and won't need to lean on each other.

Keeping expectations modest due to the youth and new system is wise, but being surprised won't fly when the D comes together by midseason since you're reading this.


CB Jerell Norton


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Jake Bequette-Fr (6-5, 265) Damario Ambrose-So (6-5, 253)
NT Ernest Mitchell-Sr (6-2, 305) Cord Gray-Sr (6-1, 305)
DT Malcolm Sheppard-Jr (6-3, 277) Patrick Jones-So (6-2, 297)
DE Adrian Davis-Jr (6-4, 238) Antwain Robinson-Sr (6-2, 258)
SLB Freddy Burton-So (6-2, 221) ..
MLB Jerry Franklin-Fr (6-2, 229) Jermaine Love-So (5-11, 226)
WLB Elston Forte-Sr (6-0, 219) Ryan Powers-So (6-1, 207)
CB Jamar Love-Sr (6-1, 197) Shedrick Johnson-Sr (5-10, 188)
CB Jerell Norton-Jr (6-0, 190) Isaac Madison-So (6-0, 181)
SS Dallas Washington-Sr (6-0, 210) Bret Harris-Fr (6-0, 209)
Walner Leandre-Sr (6-2, 213)
FS Matt Harris-Jr (6-2, 192) Rashaad Johnson-Jr (6-1, 191)
P Jeremy Davis-Sr (5-9, 206) ..




Alex Tejada had a strong freshman year, even going only 4-for-8 from 40+. His miss in the Auburn game was the difference for an L, but there were no residual effects. Arkansas gave up the third most punt return yards in the SEC, depicting how they kicked directly to return guys and lost nine yards of field position each time they did. That will change - senior Jeremy Davis will become a placement type of punter to help the net results. The only card not yet shown is who will become the runback guys, but there is enough speed all over the roster so that (Petrino playing his hand close to the vest means) lots of players get their chances to let real game results then sort out the depth chart.