FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas is 5-3 overall and 1-3 in SEC play entering its bye weekend.
Here at SEC Country, we’re breaking down the performance of each position group through eight games during the bye week. Here’s our look at how the Razorback defensive line has performed to this point.
By the numbers
128: Total negative yardage from the defensive line’s tackles for loss.
26.0: Number of tackles for loss recorded by Arkansas D-linemen this season. Wise is the leader of that group with 4.5.
15.0: Number of sacks recorded by Arkansas defensive linemen — and, actually, the entire defense — this season.
5: Number of pass breakups by Arkansas defensive linemen. Deatrich Wise Jr. has three and Jeremiah Ledbetter has two.
3.0: Wise has recorded 3.0 sacks this season. He vowed at SEC Media Days in July that he would have at least 13 sacks as a senior.
2.5: Number of sacks per game Wise would have to average over the final four regular-season games to meet the goal listed above.
The Arkansas defense is surrendering an average of 221.8 rushing yards per game. That ranks 111th out of 128 in the country and 13th out of 14 in the SEC.
Obviously, the Razorbacks’ porous run defense isn’t entirely the fault of the defensive line. The lack of linebacker depth and safety struggles has contributed heavily to those numbers.
But it all starts up front. This Arkansas defensive line — touted during the preseason as one of the best in the SEC — has failed to live up to expectations.
And next season, this unit could take a step back. Starters Wise, Taiwan Johnson and Jeremiah Ledbetter will all be gone in 2017, as well as backup JaMichael Winston.
To be fair, true freshmen McTelvin Agim and Austin Capps have shown flashes of their immense talent at times this year. Highly-touted defensive tackle Briston Guidry is redshirting. Also, starting defensive end Tevin Beanum will be a senior in 2017.
It will be interesting to see how well this group plays down the final stretch. Especially intriguing is Wise, who was projected as a 2017 first-round pick in the months before the season began. Has his draft stock been damaged?
Considering linebacker depth issues, poor safety play and various injuries on the Arkansas defense, the Hogs’ defensive line is hardly the biggest problem. But the D-line has also underachieved relative to its preseason expectations.