#21 Arkansas Football 2015 Preview

Arkansas Razorbacks

Overall Rank: #21
#6 SEC

Arkansas Team Page#21 Arkansas Football 2015 PreviewBuy Arkansas Football Tickets

Hope springs eternal in Fayetteville as the Arkansas Razorbacks finished the 2014 season in style with wins over LSU, Ole Miss and Texas in their last four games. Head Coach Bret Bielema has the luxury of a returning starting quarterback in senior Brandon Allen and a road-grading offensive line that returns four starters. This combination will set Arkansas up nicely to have a shot at eight wins and a .500 record in SEC play.

2014 Record: 7-6, 2-6
2014 Bowl: Texas Bowl vs. Arkansas (W 31-7)
Coach: Bret Bielema 10-15 at Arkansas, 78-39 overall
Offensive Coordinator: Dan Enos
Defensive Coordinator: Robb Smith

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Jonathan Williams, RB, 1,190 yards
Passing: Brandon Allen, QB, 2,285 yards
Receiving: Keon Hatcher, WR, 558 yards
Tackles: Brooks Ellis, LB, 72
Sacks: Taiwan Johnston, DT, 4.5
Interceptions: Three with 2 each

Other Key Returnees: RB Alex Collins, TE Hunter Henry, OG Sebastian Tretola,, LB Josh Williams, SS Rohan Gaines, CB  Jared Collins, RT Dan Skipper, C Mitch Smothers, K Adam McFain

Key Losses: LB Martrell Spaight, DE Trey Flowers, S Alan Turner, CB Tevin Mitchell

This Razorback team should feel very confident heading into the 2015 season as they finally started to learn how to win. Another strength will be Brandon Allen and the group of quality running backs returning once again in 2015. Jonathan Williams ran for nearly 1,200 yards and Alex Collins ran for over 1,000 yards as well. The offensive line, led by Denver Kirkland and Dan Skipper, is going to keep the chains moving and allow Arkansas to impose its will on opposing defenses. Defensively, linebacker Brooks Ellis will look to lead a defense that was among the top 20 in the nation to even greater heights. Ellis will have to pick up the slack for the loss of Martrell Speight. Speight was a war daddy defensively for the Razorbacks as he had 128 tackles at linebacker and was a big reason along with Trey Flowers and Darius Philon for the back-to-back shutouts of LSU and Ole Miss.

Replacing the lost production from the defensive line is going to be a critical component to the success of Arkansas this season. Trey Flowers and Darius Philon were relentless at causing havoc for opposing offensive lines throughout the SEC. It is going to be up to Taiwan Johnson and JaMichael Winston to set the tone for a defensive line that, while it may not put as gaudy of numbers, it will deep enough to hold up over the course of the season. The passing game could use more of a dynamic big play threat. Keon Hatcher is the leading returning receiver for the Razorbacks and is very reliable. It will be interesting to see how new offensive coordinator Dan Enos will evolve the passing game in 2015, especially with the arrival of incoming junior college wide receiver Dominique Reed. If Reed can make an instant impact and stretch the field, it will force defenses to not stack eight or nine guys in the box to stop the running attack.

The Bottom Line:
The schedule sets up well for a 3-0 start for the Razorbacks as UTEP, Toledo and Texas Tech are all home games that Arkansas should win without too much of a problem. September 26th will be a fork in the road type of game against Texas A&M as the inability to put the Aggies away came back to bite the Razorbacks last season in a 35-28 loss in Arlington. If Arkansas can step up and get the win this go around, it will set them up with a lot of confidence heading into a three game gauntlet against Tennessee, Alabama and Auburn. Overall, Arkansas should continue to move forward and play better football, but it may not reflect in the win column as dramatic as some Razorback fans might like. Look for at minimum eight win regular season with a chance for ninth win in a bowl game in 2015.

Projected Bowl: TaxSlayer Bowl

2014 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 218.0(24th in nation, 5th in conference)
Passing Offense: 188.0 (100, 11)
Total Offense: 406.0 (60, 8)
Scoring Offense: 31.9 (42, 7)
Rushing Defense: 114.6 (12, 2)
Pass Defense: 208.8 (37, 5)
Total Defense: 323.4 (10, 2)
Scoring Defense: 19.2 (35, 9)
Turnover Margin: 0.54 (27, 4)
Sacks: 1.85 (84, 10)
Sacks Allowed: 1.08 (11, 1)

Madness 2016 NFL Draft Rankings:
#82 Denver Kirkland
#91 Henry Hunter
#101 Dan Skipper

Madness 2015 Recruit Rankings:
#134 C.J. O'Grady
#184 Hjalte Froholdt


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