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. Here’s our look at how the Razorbacks running backs have performed.
By the numbers
1,124: Combined rushing yardage this season for Arkansas’ top rushers, Rawleigh Williams III and Devwah Whaley
110: Number of rushing yards for sixth-year senior Kody Walker, whose career ended after he needed another foot surgery earlier this month
55: Williams’ longest rush of the season in Arkansas’ Sept. 24 loss to Texas A&M
6: Total touchdowns for Williams (5 rushing, 1 receiving)
5: Number of Arkansas running backs who have received at least 1 carry this season
2: Number of fumbles by Arkansas running backs (1 from Williams and 1 from Walker)
Coming off a terrifying neck injury suffered last season, Williams has mostly been terrific this year. His biggest problems — and, frankly, many of the team’s biggest problems — have been the result of a porous offensive line.
Every season that Bret Bielema has been a head coach — whether at Wisconsin or Arkansas — at least one running back has rushed for 1,000 yards or more.
Williams has rushed for 807 yards this season and looks like the guy who will keep that streak alive. Whaley sits at 317 yards, so it would take a Herculean effort for him to get there.
It was a major bummer that Walker’s career ended the way it did. That poor guy has just been snake-bitten.
I still expect big things from true freshman T.J. Hammonds during his career. Maybe he’ll move to receiver next year, when the Hogs lose Keon Hatcher, Cody Hollister and Drew Morgan. They desperately will need guys to catch passes. Or maybe Hammonds will stay at running back and be part of a great backfield full of young talent.
Bottom line, though: None of what these guys do will matter much if they don’t make drastic improvement on the offensive line.
Overall grade: B
Williams has been very good this season — when the offensive line gives him room to breathe and even sometimes when it doesn’t — and Whaley has been worked into the lineup more and more during the last several games. I think the Hogs have a lot to be excited about when it comes to Whaley, who has shown bursts of his superstar-level talent.
Bielema’s offenses clearly operate at their best when he has two or three top-level backs at his disposal, and right now, it’s not clear that he does.