…and that is not just because we could not get much worse. We have two talented, veteran, linebackers, who may be the best pair in a very long time at Arkansas. So, LB is better. We have Pulley, Calloway, Richardson, Curl, and Santos in the secondary. There is talent and experience there so the secondary is better. We have reports that Ramsey may be a beast at a speed rushing end, that Agim will play well at DE, and we are hearing hints that Bell and some of his friends may be responding to Caldwell and coming on strong. So, we may be better at DE. In the interior, we are 2-3 deep with good if not yet great players (Capps, Guidry, Marshall, etc.) who may can grow into a plugging the middle role with a little push in the pass rush to let us be a little better in the interior of the D-line. They seem to be responding to Chavis’ system, so there is hope for improvement on defense.
My worry is the offense. We have a nationally recognized offensive genius as the head coach who has proven his system at Clemson in a big way and at SMU in a sneaky, strong way. Can he win with the players he has inherited or do we have to suffer through a long season of square pegs trying to fit in round holes and slowly adapting to the new system?
From the get-go, will we be better at QB? Doubtful. Passing accuracy in the spring was very low. Adjusting to the new offense appeared to be a work in progress with a long learning curve ahead.
Will we be better at center? Not even close. We will be lucky to get mediocre play from two walk-ons trying to replace the best offensive lineman in America from last year.
Will we be better at guard? Yes. Froholdte will be All-SEC & Gibson will be OK.
Will we be better at tackle? Like the defense, how could we be worse? There is hope that our tackles are more finesse than physical and they may be better suited for the spread. That may save us, but there is no sign or rumor of suddenly improved tackle play in the spring.
Will we be better at tight end? I think this is the really bright spot and there is a chance that Patton and O-Grady can be a nightmare for SEC defenses. This position could be very good.
Running back? I think our backs may be unleashed with more room to run and not having to run into a stacked box like last year. We may have a very effective running game if we get adequate line blocking. That may be a big if!
Receiver? They will get more out of the receiving position than last year but will they get enough to feed this offense and overcome the shortcomings at QB? The speediest returning receivers (Jones, Warren, Martin) have struggled the most to adapt to the new system. There was very little evidence of ability to get wide open in the spring (maybe that means we will have a great secondary…probably not) and our spring QB’s needed a wide open receiver to have a chance of getting the pass caught by a guy in the right jersey.
Kicking game? Again, how could it get much worse? Very poor return game, very weak field goal kicking, inconsistent and rarely long kickoffs, ‘meh’ coverage, and just OK punting. CCM has a reputation of coaching up special teams so there may be some hope for improvement here but we are a very long way from having big play potential on special teams.
Being weak at center, QB, and the tackles is not a good start seeking a good offense. Our formerly worst in the west defense may have to carry the offense initially if not all season. If that don’t scare you as a Hog fan, you don’t have a pulse.