The beginning of last season couldn’t have gone worse for the Razorbacks, who lost Four of their first six Games with a few of them coming at home, most notably to Toledo and Texas Tech. Bret Bielema’s team eventually figured things out with some big road wins, but could face some growing pains again this year with a largely inexperienced offense.
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The first issue comes at quarterback where Austin Allen has been named starter, the younger brother to previous starter Brandon Allen. Austin Allen is a junior, but his experience is limited having watched his brother lead the offense the last couple years. Another question is at running back where Kody Walker and Rawleigh Williams step into starting roles. Unfortunately, Walker broke his foot and is missing the majority of offseason practices. While the Razorbacks have been a great running team under Bielema, new players at QB and RB to go with a mostly new offensive line doesn’t bode well for the same kind of success.
Arkansas has to replace three spots on the line, but the good news for the offense is that the receiving corps is loaded. If Allen can find his targets, Drew Morgan (843 yards, 10 TDs), Dominique Reed (535 yards, 6 TDs) and Keon Hatcher are all great options. If Allen struggles, it doesn’t matter how good the receivers are.
The other end of the field looks a little better for Arkansas, who returns the majority of its starters. They had one of the better rush defenses a year ago and that will probably be the case again, especially with some new options at linebacker. The Razorbacks only used two linebackers last season because they couldn’t find a consistent third guy. The secondary is the bigger issue for this group though after getting gashed a little too often in 2015. And so, they brought in former Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads to coordinate the DBs, which could pay immediate dividends. At the least, they have experience, especially with a couple seniors at cornerback.
The Razorbacks will get to see just how good their secondary is right out of the gates with Games against TCU and Texas A&M in September. And in October, the Razorbacks draw a back-to-back with Alabama and Ole Miss. The beginning of the year could look be a repeat of 2015 if Allen isn’t up to speed early on at quarterback.
Arkansas was 8-5 last year with a bowl win and they’ll be sitting around that mark again unless they can start the season with a bang. Their Schedule isn’t friendly, but at the least play a lot of their toughest matchups at home.
2016 Arkansas Razorbacks Football Schedule
Sept. 3 vs. Louisiana Tech
Sept 10 at TCU
Sept. 17 vs. Texas State
Sept. 24 vs. Texas A&M (AT&T Stadium)
Oct. 1 vs. Alcorn State
Oct. 8 vs. Alabama
Oct. 15 vs. Ole Miss
Oct. 22 at Auburn
Nov. 5 vs. Florida
Nov. 12 vs. LSU
Nov. 19 at Mississippi State
Nov. 26 at Missouri