DT Malcolm Sheppard
9-19-09 GEORGIA
9-26-09 at Alabama
10-3-09 Texas A&M @Dallas, TX
10-10-09 AUBURN
10-17-09 at Florida
10-24-09 at Mississippi
11-14-09 TROY
11-28-09 at Louisiana State
Coach: Bobby Petrino
5-7, 1 year

2008 Statistics

2008 RESULTS: 5-7
at Texas LOST 10-52
at Auburn WON 25-22
at Kentucky LOST 20-21
at South Carolina LOST 21-34
at Mississippi State LOST 28-31

2008 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR


2009 Outlook

Did anyone really expect then-new head coach Bobby Petrino to come into Fayetteville with a completely new pass-first spread offensive approach and successfully transform the Razorbacks from a rather straight-forward running team into a 21st century juggernaut? Adding to Petrino’s intimidating challenge was the loss of phenom running backs Darren McFadden and Felix Jones, both as first round draft selections. No one really knew what the initial outcome would be.

After barely beating Western Illinois and Louisiana-Monroe in the home openers while also giving up 95 points over the last three games, the blank slate of 2009 affords the learning curve to kick in. Depth and the experiences of ‘08 will mean development and efforts this year that will surpass those just seen.

Stay the path, you Hog faithful. Petrino is starting to bring in elite skill position recruits, and many of them have already paid their dues. The most evident improvements will be at receiver, a position that rarely, if ever, has had more than one promising talent on the field under past regimes. This corps is deeper, faster and more equipped to fit the current Petrino passing scheme. None of this makes any difference, however, unless the man throwing the ball has the pedigree and skills to work these schemes.

Arkansas may have found their guy in transfer Ryan Mallett (who ironically left Michigan after it shifted away from being a pro-style set). This former five-star high school recruit has already demonstrated that the hype surrounding the strength of his arm was no hoax. Coaches have continually addressed the difference Mallett has already made with his touch on the deep pass, which, in turn, is exactly what this offense needs in terms of spreading the field. Mallett is not the savior just yet; he still has some learning to do in working the entire field, especially with the stroke of his short game.

For years, Arkansas has been hampered by a quarterback unit that seemed to be nothing more than guys who were taught to "not lose". Mallett left Michigan 3-0 in his limited starts as a freshman. He is going to be a great fit for Petrino's system in time.

On the other hand, the running numbers predictably dropped. Still, the fact that Michael Smith is one of the most gifted ball carriers in the south should mean more ground production. The offensive line has a ton of experience but has a long way to travel in the improvement department. This front was largely responsible for the rushing downturn. More importantly, the OL hampered the passing game (118th nationally in sacks allowed). Turning the line’s quality of play upward will go far toward improving the ‘W’ column.

However, what killed Petrino's rookie season wasn't his offense...the defensive production was substandard. This was the worst defense in the SEC (for rushing, pass efficiency, total and scoring). Experience has to pay off since ten starters return on this side of the ball. Injuries and suspensions are hopefully a thing of the past with battle-tested troops like these populating the entire lineup. Whether the coaching changes had anything to do with the stopping troubles of a year ago remains to be seen. With another year under defensive coordinator Willy Robinson's tutelage, this defense is going to be much better (which may not take much if tough lessons are heeded).

Six of the first seven games on the ’09 slate are akin to these Hogs avoiding the slaughterhouse. Georgia, Alabama, Texas A&M, Auburn, Florida and Ole Miss...these Hogs had best be ready. Such a slate will preclude Arkansas, unless they lose only one of these, from hopping into any early top 25 voting. How this team finishes once the schedule lightens will truly tell their tale. The horrid finish like that of a year ago would certainly leave this team out of bowl eligibility.

As new talent continues to pour in, the future here still looks bright...it may be just waiting another year down the road until Arkansas returns to SEC/national prominence. But, for sure, the 2009 Hogs will be more competitive than 2008’s version.

Projected 2009 record: 7-5
RB Michael Smith
2008 Statistical Rankings
Total Off:
Sacks Allow:
Total Def:

Passing: Tyler Wilson, 11-22-2, 69 yds, 1 TD

Rushing: Michael Smith, 207 att., 1072 yds., 8 TD

Receiving: D.J. Williams, 61 rec., 729 yds., 9 TD

Scoring: Michael Smith, 10 TD, 60 pts.

Punting: None

Kicking: Alex Tejada, 4-9 FG, 20-21 PAT, 32 pts.

Tackles: Jerry Franklin, 87 tot., 54 pts.

Sacks: Malcolm Sheppard, 6.5 sacks

Interceptions: Ramon Broadway, 2 for 26 yds.; Jerry Franklin, 2 for 11 yds.

Kickoff Returns: Dennis Johnson, 41 ret., 22.1 avg., 1 TD

Punt Returns: Michael Smith, 5 ret., 8.8 avg., 0 TD


QB Ryan Mallett - He has already been named the starter in his first year of eligibility. The Michigan transfer is proving the hype that comes with his strong arm is no joke.

OT Matt Hall - The 6'9 redshirt freshman is going to be one of the best blockers to come out of the Petrino era here. While still in the learning curve phase, he has been masterful in one-on-one competition.

DB Rudell Crim - The Butler C.C. transfer was the top rated JUCO defensive back in 2008 according to Rivals.com. The Tallahassee native (former teammate of Michael Smith) will get an immediate shot and will have impact at safety for this struggling unit.

2009 College Football Preview
OFFENSE: Casey Dick-QB, Jonathan Luigs-C, Jose Valdez-OT, Nathan Dick-QB (transferring), Andrew Davie-TE (NFL)
DEFENSE: Antwain Robinson-DE, Ernest Mitchell-NT, Elston Forte-LB, Jamar Love-CB, Dallas Washington-SS, Jeremy Davis-P


No one was really sure who would be the starter here going into spring competition. Previous starter Casey Dick graduated while his brother Nathan Dick transferred. By the end of April, Coach Petrino tabbed Michigan transfer Ryan Mallett as the No. 1 guy. The 6-7 five-star prospect from Texas sat out last year via NCAA transfer rules. Mallett possesses one of the strongest arms in college football. His last playing time was in Ann Arbor as a backup to Chad Henne. He managed to start three games for the Wolverines that ’07 season but never really tapped his potential. Mallett needs to work on the finer details such as better touch on his short tosses. Still, his deep ball skills may be just what the doctor ordered in Fayetteville for stretching the field. Tyler Wilson started the spring at the top of the depth chart. He earned the backup job last season before being diagnosed with mononucleosis. Before being granted a medical redshirt, Wilson completed 50% of his passes (22 attempts). Bottom line: no quarterback on this roster has started a game for the Razorbacks.


Despite the talent in this backfield with headliner Michael Smith rushing for just over 1000 yards last season, Coach Petrino was the first to step up and pinpoint the struggles of the SEC’s 10th-ranked ground game. The need for improvement here was the off-season cry. The fact Smith was sidelined all spring after undergoing hamstring surgery did not help confidence, but the workhorse in this ground attack also returns as the team's second leading receiver. Given the proper blocking up front, Smith is capable of doing much more. De'Anthony Curtis looks to be the next best option after battling with several others. Curtis’s confidence appears to be growing to match his natural abilities (speed, power and soft hands). The focus will be developing Curtis into the tackle-breaking weapon towards which he has shown some promise. These two, combined with kick return artist Dennis Johnson, supply enough talent to allow the rushing attack to get back to its feared ways. SEC foes should expect nothing less despite the new pass-oriented approach.


The receiver position is deep, more so than what has been available on this roster in a very long time. Several worthy talents are fighting to earn a starting spot. Much of the talent pool can be attributed to Petrino’s open offensive philosophy that has attracted only elite receivers in his past two recruiting efforts. The spring has made sophomore Jarius Wright the top dog of the unit. He has developed into one of Mallett's favorite targets and continues to get better with every practice. One of many upperclassmen, senior London Crawford caught the final pass of the 2008 season, the one that beat LSU 31-30 on the game’s last play. Coaches hope the momentum will propel Crawford into being a more consistent receiver (numerous drops have been his career downfall). Joe Adams and former walk-on Lucas Miller, also multiple game starters with Crawford a year ago, each maintain production, so this offense knows how to spread the ball around. D.J. Williams caught 61 passes and was voted an AP First Team All-SEC selection at tight end last fall. He has been hitting the weight room and concentrating on his blocking skills this off-season. Expect Williams to be one of the better all-around tight ends on a national level.


The Hogs are going through a major shake up on the front line. Gone are two full-time starters on the outside. However, four guards will return with significant starting experience and each has been given an opportunity at multiple positions on this wall. Starting guard (2007) Mitch Petrus returns after taking a redshirt last year. Wade Grayson has been moved to center to make way for Petrus; Demarcus Love has been shifted to tackle. Don't count out 6'9 redshirt frosh Matt Hall, one of the better linemen in one-on-one drills. Before his college time is done, Hall could be one of the better blockers to emerge from the Petrino era. This unit really struggled last season while adapting to its then-new offensive system. If the offense is to take steps forward, it will have to find much better pass blocking (118th nationally in sacks allowed). The running game took a big step back in the stats department, and that explains the position shifting across this front. Plenty of experience is still available, and with another year under this coaching staff, improvements should finally be evident.


TE D.J. Williams


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB Ryan Mallett-So (6-7, 248) Tyler Wilson-RFr (6-2, 202)
FB Van Stumon-Jr (6-1, 266) Mitchell Bailey-So (5-11, 221)
RB Michael Smith-Sr (5-7, 176) De'Anthony Curtis-So (5-9, 211)
WR London Crawford-Sr (6-2, 204) Greg Childs-So (6-3, 204)
WR Joe Adams-So (5-11, 177) Carlton Salters-Jr (5-11, 195)
WR Lucas Miller-Sr (6-3, 204) Jarius Wright-So (5-10, 174)
TE D.J. Williams-Jr (6-2, 251) Ben Cleveland-Jr (6-4, 249)
Chris Gragg-So (6-3, 222)
OT Ray Dominguez-Jr (6-4, 329) Grant Freeman-So (6-7, 289)
OG Grant Cook-So (6-4, 322) Seth Oxner-So (6-4, 305)
C Wade Grayson-Jr (6-4, 289) Clay Bemberg-Jr (6-2, 287)
OG Mitch Petrus-Sr (6-4, 315) Michael Aguirre-Sr (6-5, 319)
OT DeMarcus Love-Jr (6-5, 305) Matt Hall-RFr (6-9, 328)
K Alex Tejada-Jr (6-0, 205) ..




It all starts up front for the Razorback D. Experience is the key word associated with both lines, and the defensive side boasts the most with all four starters returning. The end spot could be the strength of the team, according to coaches. Senior Adrian Davis has 17 starts under his belt and eight career sacks to his credit. The former safety (first moved to linebacker and then to defensive end) has added even more weight this off-season and is playing well. Jake Bequette has also bulked up (6'5, 271lbs) but has not been quite the sack producer coaches desire. Still, his size on the outside makes him hard for blockers to move. The leader of this front is found inside in All-SEC honoree Malcolm Sheppard. He is one of only two defensive players to start all 12 games last season, and Sheppard’s work ethic during practice has earned the praise of every teammate. While the experience looks fantastic on paper, the statistics of a year ago suggest this group needs better production holding ground, literally. This was the worst rushing defense in the SEC last year, a factor that, if not improved, will continue to hamper the loss column.


This unit was decimated with injuries and suspensions through the first four games of '08 before coaches finally found a combination that worked. This shuffling is directly related to the poor run stuffing numbers. That starting combination of Davis, Burton and Franklin remains in tact, and the trio is still sporting the top spots on the depth chart. Wendel Davis has been making the most significant strides this spring. After coming back from injury and an off the field issue, his mid-season return helped this defense to finally find some form of an identity. He has become a leader and in this, his last season, his presence continues to make this front seven even better. Jerry Franklin is the team's leading tackler from a year ago. He is the other defender (than Sheppard) to start all 12 games. His starting job has never been in question. With so much experience and leadership returning to the line up, expect much better production here. No reason exists why Arkansas should still be weak in the middle defending the power game with this bunch.


Like at LB, the 2008 version of this backfield underwent a good many changes, but all four players that started the final game are back in the lineup. Nothing is set in stone, so some beneficial position battles will provide depth, and a good many elite recruits are still on the way. The only cornerback who has separated from the pack thus far is Isaac Madison, which should be no surprise seeing he was not about to relinquish the slot he secured a year ago. The first option opposite Madison is Ramon Broadway, who came on strong after having to step in for injured senior Jamar Love last fall. Broadway is one of the team's fastest players. Strong safety Jerico Nelson recorded seven starts as a true freshman (some of them at linebacker). Elton Ford also racked up eight starts as a true freshman before being lost for the season with a neck injury. The return of Ford means that senior Matt Harris could wind up moving back to strong safety, but either way, Harris gives coaches the luxury of a player that can play both safety spots. Harris, too, is the lone senior in this secondary. But no worry, for this youthful bunch has seen plenty of action despite their short time in the program. This summer will welcome in highly decorated JUCO safeties Rudell Crim (Butler C.C. - Kansas) and Anthony Leon (College of the Sequoias - California). Crim was rated by Rivals.com as the top JUCO defensive back while Leon ranked seventh.


LB Jerry Franklin


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Jake Bequette-So (6-5, 271) Damario Ambrose-Jr (6-5, 268)
NT Zach Stadther-So (6-1, 289) Alfred Davis-RFr (6-1, 322)
DT Malcolm Sheppard-Sr (6-2, 280) Patrick Jones-Jr (6-1, 309)
DE Adrian Davis-Sr (6-4, 250) Tenarius Wright-RFr (6-1, 233)
WLB Wendel Davis-Sr (6-1, 222) Khiry Battle-So (5-11, 222)
MLB Jerry Franklin-So (6-1, 237) Jelani Smith-RFr (6-0, 205)
SLB Freddy Burton-Jr (6-2, 227) Bret Harris-So (5-11, 210)
CB Ramon Broadway-Jr (5-9, 191) Jerell Norton-Jr (6-0, 200)
CB Isaac Madison-Jr (5-10, 181) Greg Gatson-Jr (5-10, 166)
SS Jerico Nelson-So (5-9, 197) Chris Raggett-RFr (5-11, 202)
FS Elton Ford-So (6-0, 204) Matt Harris-Sr (6-2, 190)
P Briton Forester-Jr (5-10, 185) ..




Place kicker Alex Tejada handled field goal duties much of last year and struggled at times. So Arkansas hired former Michigan State head coach John L. Smith in January to coordinate the special teams. Smith's first order of business was to simplify the thought process for Tejada, who has the leg but lacks a few fundamentals and therefore consistent accuracy. Expect to see a much finer tuned Tejada. The only player who punted last fall (Davis) has departed, and Briton Forester, a transfer out of Palomar College, will not arrive until the fall. Forester initially lettered at Hawai'i, and going 28-of-31 handling extra points there (2006) proves he can take on double kicking duties if needed. Jarius Wright, Michael Smith and Jerell Norton all handled punt returns in 2008, and all three are back. Wright and Smith are two of the team’s biggest open-field playmakers, so it makes sense to see them here. Dennis Johnson returns after setting the school record for kickoff return yards in a season (905, to compliment his one return TD). The talent is here, and now a worthy director of said talent is in place. Hiring a coach of Smith’s quality will pay dividends across the special team's board.