Arkansas football didn’t expect to be 2-4 on the season and 1-2 in the SEC heading into the bye week. Now the backstretch of the schedule begins Saturday, and the Razorbacks play four of their next six games at home.
The Auburn Tigers find themselves in a similar situation at 1-2 in conference. Both teams looked great on paper when the season started, now they’re playing a survival game in the SEC West gauntlet. Arkansas looks to build on its conference win at Tennessee and continue its momentum going into the final six games.
Here is a quintet of Razorback players who need to show progress in the second half of the season:
- Kody Walker, RB, Junior
Walker was one of the top running back recruits in the country coming out of high school, and the Missouri native’s five rushing touchdowns in his first year were tied for the most in the NCAA among true freshman before he got injured. Now a fourth-year junior, Walker returns to the field this week from a hand injury. He has just 278 career rushing yards. Although he’s not the featured back behind the biggest offensive line in football, he needs more touches, and yards — whether running or receiving.
- Dwayne Eugene, LB, Sophomore
The heralded Louisiana native has made little impact for the Razorback defense lately. Eugene has just seven total tackles through six games. If high-flying offenses get on the field more times than the Arkansas coaches want, then Eugene needs to show he can play a vital role on the defense.
- Cole Hedlund, K, Freshman
Hedland was one of the most decorated kickers in the country as a high school senior while helping lead his Argyle (Texas) High School team to a state championship. He went 24-of-30 with a long of 57 yards that season. This year he’s perfect on extra points but is just 5-of-8 on field goals. He’s 0-for-1 on kicks from 30-39 and 40-49 this year and is 4-of-5 from 20-29 yards. Games down the stretch could come down to one kick.
- Rawleigh Williams, RB, Freshman
Williams led the state of Texas in rushing last season with 2,814 yards, so he can tote the rock. Though running back Alex Collins gets most of the carries behind the gigantic offensive line, Williams is set to have a breakthrough game at any moment. He has 236 yards through six games for just 39.3 yards per game with just one touchdown. He’s young and fresh, so now he needs to find his college speed and power if he wants to become a premier back.
- Jared Collins, DB, Junior
A stellar sophomore season brought Athlon Sports preseason honors for Collins, who was an all-everything player at Tulsa’s Booker T. Washington High School. Though Collins has one interception this season, he has only one pass breakup (13 in 2014) and no tackles for losses like he did in 2014. With Auburn slinging the ball around this weekend, it would be a good time for Collins to jumpstart the second half of the season and lead the Razorback secondary to enough wins to become bowl eligible.