2012 was supposed to be a special year for the Razorbacks. They were coming off of an 11-2 season and were looking to take the final step in the SEC West arms race against Alabama and LSU. Instead of taking a step forward, the Razorbacks took a giant step backwards as their season started to unravel before they even hit the field and when it was all said and done the Hogs whimpered to a 4-8 finish in which they won just two SEC games.
Arkansas made one of the biggest coaching splashes during the coaching carousel by picking up Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema. Bielema made his bones at Wisconsin by running the football and playing solid defense. Sounds a lot like the formula at Alabama and LSU. Bielema will bring in a familiar SEC face Jim Chaney (Tennessee OC) to run the offense and help him attempt to navigate shark infested waters.
Chaney has his work cut out for him as he will try to replace two year starter Tyler Wilson. He also loses the triumvirate of RBs Knile Davis, Dennis Johnson and Ronnie Wingo Jr. Did I mention Cobi Hamilton, who had 69 more receptions than anybody else on Arkansas last season, was a senior? Spring practice will be very telling as rising sophomore Brandon Allen tries to nail down the starting QB spot and new stars try to emerge. Will Chaney give former QB Brandon Mitchell a shot along with Allen?
Arkansas has a lot of questions on the offensive side of the football but they might have even more on defense. There were only four SEC teams that gave up more points last season than they scored and Arkansas was one of them (only Kentucky gave up more points). The Hogs gave up over eight more points per game in 2012 than in 2011,
2013 is going to be a rebuilding season for Bielema and Arkansas. They will be changing schemes and you will see a ton of new faces leading the way for the Hogs. The biggest thing Bobby Petrino failed to do at Arkansas (besides cover up his affair) was recruit on the level with Alabama and LSU. If Arkansas truly wants to compete with the big boys, Bielema has to do a better job recruiting on both sides of the football and make Arkansas a destination spot for gifted athletes. While there is no doubt that Arkansas will be rebuilding in 2013, there is no reason they shouldn't be a lot better than their 4-8 2012 finish.
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