Some people just want to be angry. About anything. Doesn’t matter. Politics. In-laws. Arkansas football.
So, by popular demand, as I wrote about how truly excellent the Arkansas offense could be next year on Thursday, and it went over like a rock, here’s one about the Arkansas defense.
It could stink.
Or it could be great.
Most likely, it’ll be somewhere in between.
The offense is a known quantity except at wide receiver. The defense is almost completely unknown, save cornerbacks. If coach Bret Bielema is being straight — and he almost always is — Arkansas’ change to a 3-4 scheme provides even more unknowns than a typical year with ordinary roster turnover. This is especially true because we haven’t seen many of the likely linebackers who’ll play in that scheme. Not significantly, anyway.
Dre Greenlaw is a good player. We know that much. But how good? We’ve only seen him for a season and five-plus games. Even during that first season, when he finished second on the team in tackles, he had some errors. It appeared through those six games this season, until he was hurt early against Alabama, Greenlaw had mostly grown out of them. But he also didn’t go up against the high-quality offenses the SEC has, either. So, technically, the jury remains out.
De’Jon Harris is a player I love. And he was he good enough to earn All-SEC Freshman honors. But he played fewer than 40 percent of the snaps this season and will only be a sophomore.
Randy Ramsey was good in his return to the team, playing as an edge rusher. He’ll do the same if the 3-4 comes to fruition, as he has an ideal outside linebacker body. He may or may not be a three-down player, though, because we’ve only seen him exclusively as a get-to-the-quarterback guy.
Then there are old hats Khalia Hackett, Dwayne Eugene and Josh Harris. Eugene is on top of that list but looks like a backup. Hackett has the most potential, but he’ll be a senior, where “potential” is a misnomer. Coaches love Harris on special teams, but hate that he isn’t even 6-foot tall. He’s stuck there.
New guys: Giovanni LaFrance, Alexy Jean-Baptiste and Dee Walker. Walker is the most likely to impact, as he’s the one coaches talk about the most Jean-Baptiste is a former defensive back, so he’s an outside linebacker, potentially a pass rusher. LaFrance is the thick one and could be a prototype inside linebacker in a 3-4, but he had an up-and-down redshirt season, a source said.
And that’s just at linebacker. Defensive line has lots of young bodies, too. McTelvin Agim will be one of the three up front, but no one knows where exactly. Austin Capps saw snaps here and there. Bijhon Jackson is still around. Briston Guidry has potential as a redshirt freshman.
See where this is going? It’s hard, if not impossible, to predict what Arkansas’ defense will do next year. Never mind the fact the high probability a coach from that side of the ball will be leaving.
Doesn’t mean they’ll stink again. Doesn’t mean they’ll be great.
How’s that for middle ground?
Quit doubting Arkansas basketball
Just stop already. The excuses have been regular this year.
“I’ve seen this before.”
“Wait until they play someone.”
“Get them out of Arkansas and see what they do.”
Like the topic above, I have to wonder — damn, do y’all just wanna be angry? Mike Anderson’s team is 11-1 and the pre-SEC portion of the schedule is over. They won every game but three by double-digit points. They won in Texas against the team picked third in the Big 12 — a league far better than the SEC (where Arkansas was picked fifth, by the way).
This is the thing, though: If Arkansas loses to Florida in its SEC opener next Thursday, the boo birds will return, calling for Anderson’s job, saying “SOS” — and, no, not the call for help one — and just being generally pissy. Things will be exacerbated, too, if Arkansas football loses in the Belk Bowl earlier that day.
But what if Arkansas beats Florida, everyone’s choice as the second-best team in the SEC? What should happen is some respect, because Anderson has this thing rolling.
- Part of the reason for the 3-4 switch may be because Arkansas is swinging and missing with some recruits along the defensive line. Hogs still looking for another in this class, our Trent Shadid writes.
- Bielema shared a photo of his wife Jen’s ultrasound photo on Twitter on Thursday night. I “liked” it. Good for them, man.
- Arkansas’ win against Sam Houston State gave the Razorbacks eight straight for the first time under Anderson.
Ya filthy animal.
A fun thing to end here. As anyone who follows me on Twitter knows, I’m a big lists and rankings guy. So, for the why-not of it, here’s a list of my five favorite Christmas movies. What’re yours?
4. Miracle on 34th Street
3. A Christmas Story
2. It’s a Wonderful Life
1. Home Alone