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Poor man’s SEC preview: Arkansas

What is being hailed as the “best. conference. ever.” by analysts, the 2007 brand of the SEC should produce one of its most entertaining seasons in recent memory. There are about 7 to 8 teams with enough talent to compete for the title, so stay tuned. I know Phil Steele and Kige Ramsey pretty much have the market cornered on “the preview”, but who needs all that girth?

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“Da-da, can I apply for a Freedom of Information Act against Coach Nutt, too?”

State of the program: Utterly bizarre. In case you haven’t been keeping record, or if you forgot Arkansas was even in the SEC (common mistake, learn from it), here’s a brief recap. Generally, when you have hoards of message boarding fans acting as dirt-digging journalists in an attempt to not only get the head coach fired, but also ruin his marriage, it signifies a program in desperate need of a facelift. Then you remember that the Hogs won the SEC West a season ago, and you wonder why the fans want Houston Nutt’s head on a platter…deep fried first, of course. Then you remember that it’s Arkansas, and that it’s best to just not ask questions.

So you’re saying there’s a chance: (positives)
In Jr. RB Darren McFadden, the Hogs posses a talent that could be starting in the NFL, today. It’s only a matter of time before McFadden lines up at center, snaps it to himself, hands it off to…himself, and proceeds to do his own blocking before pushing through the subsequent carnage into the endzone. When he’s tired, nay, bored, shifty Jr. Felix Jones keeps defenses scrambling with his ability to take it long each time he touches the ball. You simply can never underscore the significance of an effective running game. The Hogs put 12 players on the preseason all-conference list, and figure to be as imposing on the line of scrimage as any team in the league.
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“This is my whip. It’s slower than me.”

Hey, what was all that one and a million talk: (negatives)
They’d like to think QB Casey Dick can be merely solid enough to keep defenses from stacking the box the entire game, but judging by last season, this is certainly no guarantee. In what can only be categorized as a ‘dick move’, the Jr. was benched early in the season for the now departed super-frosh Mitch Mustain, and looked ineffective and confused when sharing time at the end of the season. Having a Heisman frontrunner is the backfield is dandy, but Dick has to grow and stiffen his resolve if they have any shot of defending their crown.

“So you boys from Arkansas, huh? Well, I’ve been through there, Little Rock’s a fine town.”

Schedule: Thankfully for everyone involved, the whole USC experiment is over. We all hated to see Arkansas whore themselves out to the Trojans at the expense of the SEC’s rep. Anyway, the point was made, and from the looks of their non-conference schedule (Troy, North Texas, Chattanooga, Florida Int’l), the Hogs will be ‘practicing’ safely in ‘07.

Giving back to the community: DE Donnell Sanders was arrested several weeks back, and charged with drunk in public, disorderly conduct, and third-degree assault. Sanders was allegedly yelling at passerbys from a car, when he got out and shoved a man to the ground. The motive? Said Sanders of the shove, “he was in my space.” Obviously not a facebook guy.

What’s in a name? Comedy (best name): It’s easy to go with Dick (seriously, change your name dude), but I’m going to break away from the chalk and give the award to…ok, Casey Dick.

In conclusion:
Arkansas rode McFadden and a talented defense to the SEC Championship game a season ago, despite spotty play under center. The off-season circus that saw the exodus of the OC, franchise QB, stud WR and several NFL draft picks certainly does little to suggest improvement, and you have to wonder if Houston Nutt even wants to win for a fan-base hell bent on seeing him splatter on rock bottom. But McFadden is that good. They’ll certainly have a shot each Saturday, but an even better SEC will see to it that they will not be returning to the Georgia Dome, and Nutt will no longer be in Fayetteville. Sorry Bubba:

Article written by John Dubya

The Twitter: @Johnawilk