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Team Capsule; The University of Arkansas
by bamafan4ever
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Nickname: Razorbacks
2006 Record: 10-4 (SEC West Champions, 15th AP, 16th USA Today/Coaches Poll)
Head Coach: Houston Nutt (10th year at Arkansas, 103-66 overall)



Overview

Razorback fans, for the third year in a row, get to watch their team open the season against the Trojans. This time, they can take solace in the fact that this is the Trojans from Troy, Alabama. After two years of starting the season with embarassing starts against the USC Trojans, which led to a 4-win season in 2005 but an SEC West title in 2006, the Hawgs look to start their 2007 campaign with a little momentum instead of early season rebuilding when they play Alabama in the second game of the season.

Defensive Coordinators will know exactly how to prepare for the Razorbacks in 2007. Stop Darren McFadden. The problem is, not many people have figured out how to do that. The 3rd year RB phenom reeled off 1,647 yards in his sophomore campaign and was invited to New York for the Heisman ceremonies in 2006. Although McFadden has lost some of his wall of protection along the OL to graduation, the Hawgs have recruited well enough in the last couple of years the Razorbacks will not miss a step with eager underclassmen ready to fill the shoes of departed stars like Tony Ugoh.

Defensively, the Razorbacks Defensive Coordinator, Reggie Herring, loses 7 starters from his 2006 team that ranked 26th in the nation overall. Losses on the defensive side of the ball included Sam Olajubutu and junior sensation, Jamaal Anderson.

Despite off the field problems that have seemingly plagued Coach Houston Nutt during the off season (for example, the departures of much heralded Springfield recruits Mitch Mustain and Damian Williams) the Hawgs remain a dangerous team in the SEC West. In order for the Razorbacks to make noise in the BCS, however, they will need to fair well within the SEC and that will be no easy task with road games in Tuscaloosa, Knoxville and Baton Rouge. The Razorbacks do host the Auburn Tigers in Fayetteville on October 13th for their only home game of note. The Hogs out of conference schedule is abysmal with showdowns against such “powerhouses” as North Texas, Chattanooga and Florida International. Yes, even the Troy Trojans rank as the Razorback’s best out of conference game.

Offense
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Darren McFadden

The Arkansas Razorbacks running game, although very dependent on the wheels of Darren McFadden (average of 5.8 yds. Per carry in 2006 and 14 TD’s) will have another formidable weapon in the backfield in 2007, Felix Jones. Jones could start for just about any team in the nation and only gets overshadowed in Fayetteville by the prowess of McFadden. In 2006, Jones added another 1,168 yards for the Hawgs with an astounding 7.6 yards per carry.

With the departure of Mitch Mustain, it looks as if there will be very little QB controversy in Fayetteville this year with Casey Dick making perceived strides in his game during the Spring. Dick threw for 991 yards and 9 TD’s in 2006 splitting duties with the aforementioned Mustain and utility backup Robert Johnson. Senior receiver Marcus Monk decided to forgo the NFL draft and is back in 2007. The 6’6” speedy SE was responsible for gathering 962 yards and 11 touchdowns for a 19.2 yard average per reception. Opposing coaches need not forget about McFadden and Jones on special teams either. Both showed the ability to return the ball all the way for a TD in 2006.


Defense
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Defensive Coordinator Reggie Herring

With 7 starters lost on last year’s squad, Coach Reggie Herring will have a very young unit taking the field for the Razorbacks in 2007. Regardless of the personnel on the field, opponents should expect more of the same from the Razorbacks in 2007. Coach Herring likes to blitz early and often from multiple sets. The top returning tackler from last years squad will be 6’3” Weston Dacus, who was responsible for 95 tackles, 8 tackles for a loss and 3.5 sacks. Dacus was also credited for 1 interception in the 2006 season.

Sack specialist Antwain Robinson will also be counted on to bring experience back to a squad that saw the early departure of Jamaal Anderson. Robinson was responsible for getting to and sacking the QB on 8.5 occasions for losses which added up to -63 yards, 14.5 tackles for loss and was also credited with 1 interception in 2006.

The Arkansas secondary will be a question mark heading into the fall. Only senior FS Michael Grant will make a return appearance as a starter in the Razorback secondary. The other pieces of the puzzle will not be answered until the Hawgs take the field against the Troy.

Special Teams
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Felix Jones

Arkansas in 2007, when returning kickoffs, will be dangerous. Felix Jones will one again be the primary kickoff returner but will be flanked by Heisman candidate Darren McFadden. Returning punts and looking to vindicate his self-created disaster in the 2006 SEC Championship game will be Reggie Fish, unless Coach Nutt has a change of heart. Fish returned 16 punts for 98 yards in 2006 to lead the Razorbacks.

Opposing fans will be disappointed not to see the quirky Jacob Skinner, who was lost to graduation, punting the ball in 2007. Returning, however, will be PK Jeremy Davis.
 
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