Arkansas spring football has so much to keep an eye on
With your bacon, have some Hogs for Breakfast. It’s SEC Country’s weekday column and roundup on all things Arkansas. Opinion, numbers, inane babble and more! And now with ironic exclamation points. There is no place like it on the Web.
One more day to football. That’s all we have to endure to make it.
Bret Bielema’s fifth year in charge gets underway in earnest Tuesday. Arkansas opens spring practice on the fields outside the Fred W. Smith Football Center at 4 p.m.
The Razorbacks will hold a total of 15 practices, the maximum allowed by the NCAA, over the course of the next several weeks. Fourteen workouts lead up to the finale, the Red-White Spring Game on Saturday on April 29. Fifteen practices over five weeks, so figure about three practices per week between now and then.
Questions abound for this team, ahead of anyone’s first look at the players in more than three months. The 2016 season ended a mixed bag. Wins against Texas Christian and Florida were high points. Collapses against Missouri and Virginia Tech, which also happened to be the team’s final two games, were the low ones.
Arkansas is entering a season for the first time under Bielema in which it wasn’t better the year before. Meaning, Bielema’s first three seasons all saw the Razorbacks improve their win total. They won seven last year, down from eight the previous season.
Of course, much of the feeling about the season changes if Arkansas beats Virginia Tech in the Belk Bowl.
But it didn’t. Robb Smith is out as defensive coordinator now and Rory Segrest is gone from coaching the defensive line. Paul Rhoads was promoted to DC and Chad Walker and John Scott Jr. were hired in Smith’s and Segrest’s vacancies.
The loss of several important seniors, including four-year starters Dan Skipper and Brooks Ellis, bears watching. As does Dre Greenlaw’s return from injury. And Britto Tutt’s. A bevy of new wide receivers dots the roster. So does the SEC’s best quarterback, per Pro Football Focus, Austin Allen.
Really, though, for now, just take it in. Forget the questions and the “who is gonna be the third-string punter?” stuff and just enjoy that football has returned to us. For a month, anyway.
Look who leads the SEC
The Arkansas baseball team officially is a force with which to be reckoned.
Dave Van Horn’s crew already matched its SEC series win total from last season. When the Diamond Hogs took two of three from Missouri this past weekend, including the capper in dramatic fashion, Arkansas started 2-0 in SEC series to begin the season. The Razorbacks won exactly two SEC series during the entire 2016 season.
And it isn’t just winning series. Arkansas is dominating. The Razorbacks have lost only one SEC game in six so far — that’s a 5-1 record for those who do math like I do. Good enough to lead the entire SEC. Better than LSU. Better than Vanderbilt. They’re better than Florida. Better than Ole Miss. In fact, the only teams that can equal what Arkansas has done so far in conference play are Kentucky and South Carolina in the East and Auburn in the West.
I’m not sure about you, but if you were to ask me to put in order the teams likeliest to keep up the pace, the worst I’m putting Arkansas is second.
And the schedule going forward helps. Alabama, tied for last in the West at 1-5, hosts Arkansas next weekend. Another two wins in three games would put Arkansas in a golden position heading into the middle part of conference play.
Arkansas fans — well, a lot of them, anyway — cheered when both Florida and Kentucky failed to make it out of the Elite 8 in the NCAA Tournament over the weekend. Neither Malik Monk (Bentonville, Kentucky) or KeVaughn Allen (North Little Rock, Florida) will play for a national title. Those who cheered are engaging in schadenfreude.
But the reverse hurts, too.
Mississippi State’s women’s basketball team did make the Final Four. The coach is Vic Schaefer, formerly an assistant at Arkansas. On top of that, Jordan Danberry will be on the Bulldogs roster next season. She was the two-time Arkansas high school Gatorade Player of the Year who left the Razorbacks this season to transfer. She also was one of the six players who knelt in the Razorbacks’ exhibition game during the national anthem. Danberry wasn’t a starter at Arkansas, but Mississippi State wanted her on its roster.
Wonder what happened there.
- The Razorbacks men’s tennis team snapped a four-match SEC losing streak over the weekend, beating Auburn. Arkansas is eighth in the SEC with a 3-4 record.
- The Arkansas women weren’t as fortunate. South Carolina, ranked 24th in the country, beat 18-rated Arkansas on Sunday in Columbia. Both teams are 4-3 in conference play.
- The 15th-ranked women’s golf team took home a third-place finish down in Baton Rouge from the weekend. Arkansas played in the LSU Tiger Golf Classic, finishing just behind 11th-ranked Duke and 19th-ranked Oklahoma State.
Yee-Haw! Today in Arkansas
Remember the Duggars? Of course, you do. Well, my neighbors are back in the news.
Son Josh, who came under heat when it was exposed he had an AshleyMadison.com account, has been served with legal papers, per In Touch Weekly. The suit alleges Duggar used the photograph of one Matthew McCarthy in his profile on the site. McCarthy’s suit says he’s suffered damage because of it.
You only thought you were finished.
Skip Breakfast? C’mon. It’s too important. Catch up with previous versions here.