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2019 SEC Football Preview: Arkansas Razorbacks

2019 SEC Football Preview: Arkansas Razorbacks

The 2019 football season is just 14 weeks away and less than 100 days. Starting this week until the first SEC game of the year we’ll breakdown each team in the conference. August 24th can’t get here soon enough.

2018 Review

2019 SEC Football Preview: Arkansas Razorbacks
2018 Schedule

2018 Record: 2-10 (0-8)

7th in the West

Former SMU head coach Chad Morris is hoping for better results in his second year at Arkansas. The 2018 season ended up being a complete disaster as he tried to implement his own style and players into a run-heavy Brett Bielema offense.

The Razorbacks went 2-10 last year, 0-8 in conference play. It marks the second time since 2013 Arkansas has failed to win a conference game. The last time they went winless twice in the SEC the same decade goes all the way back to the 1941 and 1942 seasons.

The Razorbacks went just 1-10 against FBS opponents last year, the lone win coming against a 3-9 Tulsa team. A road loss at 3-9 Colorado State and a blowout loss at home against 9-4 North Texas capped a 2-2 out of conference schedule.

2019 Schedule Breakdown

2019 SEC Football Preview: Arkansas Razorbacks
2019 Schedule

Ceiling: 7-5 (3-5)

Floor: 2-10 (0-8)

2019 Projected Record : 5-7 (1-7)

Conference Standings: 7th in the SEC West

  • Week 1 Portland State: W
  • Week 2 @ Ole Miss: L
  • Week 3 Colorado State: W
  • Week 4 San Jose State: W
  • Week 5 Texas A&M*: L
  • Week 6: Bye
  • Week 7 @ Kentucky: L
  • Week 8 Auburn: W
  • Week 9 @ Alabama: L
  • Week 10 Mississippi State: L
  • Week 11 Western Kentucky: W
  • Week 12: Bye
  • Week 13 @ LSU: L
  • Week 14 Mizzou: L

Expect the Razorbacks to increase their win total from last year. Though that shouldn’t be hard to do. Many of the losses predicted on the schedule can swing either way, giving the Razorbacks a serious chance of making a bowl game appearance in 2019.

Although they went 2-10 last season, it’s important to note the SEC’s history with teams that go winless in SEC play. Since 2009 there have been eight winless SEC teams. The following season for those teams has seen an average win increase of 2.4 in SEC play and 2.9 overall.

2019 SEC Football Preview: Arkansas Razorbacks
Chad Morris will enter his second year as Arkansas head coach. (Photo courtesy of wholehogsports.com)

Chad Morris brought in the 23rd best-recruiting class in 2019, good for 10th in the SEC per 247sports. With some new reserves coming in Arkansas should be able to run the table in their out of conference schedule. Colorado State was a close miss last year and Morris should get his revenge this year.

That being said there are four swing games that could really determine the final outcome of this season. Games against Ole Miss, Kentucky, Mississippi State and Missouri should be close and are games Arkansas can win. Even winning just two would put the Razorbacks into bowl eligibility and make Chad Morris’s second season a definite success.

Arkansas hasn’t lost a game at Ole Miss since 2013, and the Rebels have a lot of talent to replace. Kentucky and Mississippi State will both be regressing next year. And Missouri will be experimenting with a new quarterback and a team that isn’t bowl eligible due to NCAA violations. It’s realistic to think the Razorbacks can come out of this season with a possible two or more SEC wins.

2019 Holes to Fill

Find a Starting Quarterback

First thing’s first, Chad Morris needs to find a quarterback. 2018 junior starter Ty Storey announced his decision to transfer about a month after the 2018 season. Backup Cole Kelley also chose to transfer to Southeastern Louisiana to be closer to home.

2019 SEC Football Preview: Arkansas Razorbacks
Ben Hicks will join his former SMU coach as a graduate transfer at Arkansas. (Photo courtesy of arkansasfight.com)

This leaves Morris with just sophomore Connor Noland as the only returning quarterback who’s logged meaningful minutes as a Razorback. Morris did add his former quarterback at SMU Ben Hicks who will be eligible immediately as a graduate transfer.

Incoming 4-star KJ Jefferson out of Sardis, MS also has a chance to take the starting position for the Fall. The 6-foot-3 211-pound dual-threat quarterback turned down offers from the likes of Kentucky, Indiana, Baylor and Georgia.

Replace an Already Bad Offensive Line

The Arkansas offensive line was guilty of allowing 32 sacks last year. Additionally, they’ll need to replace fourth-round draft pick Hjalte Froholdt who was a big factor at 6-foot-6, 315 pounds.

The good news is Chad Morris added two JUCO offensive linemen in this year’s recruiting class. The 6-foot-5, 300-pound Myron Cunningham will be a sure thing to start at the tackle position. 6-foot-5, 290-pound tackle Dylan Rathcke can also provide some much-needed help.

Freshmen Secondary Providing Much Needed Help

The Arkansas secondary struggled greatly in 2018. They’ll be bringing in two big-time four-star recruits to provide some support.

Edna Karr standout Devin Bush and West Jefferson Gregory Brooks Jr. will need to be factors early for the Razorbacks. They’ll be joining a defense that ranked 88th in passing yards allowed per game last season.

Recap

Second-year head coach Chad Morris needs to make an impression this year. His 2019 recruiting class offers a lot of hope for the Razorback fan base. If they can fill the holes left from 2018 there’s no reason they can’t win six games and earn bowl eligibility. This is a team that has big hopes with the possibility of a low ceiling.

 

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