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Future looks bright for Petrino's Hogs

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

Seeing his team come back in the final seconds Friday to win 31-30 over defending national champion LSU was sweet enough for Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino.

Then he glanced down his roster.

Just about everybody making a play for the Razorbacks in their season-ending win over the Tigers will be back next season.

The Hogs (5-7, 2-6 SEC) fell one game short of making the postseason in Petrino's first year, but they did set a tone for the offseason. One more solid recruiting class, and this is a club that could be a factor in the Western Division race next season and certainly by 2010.

As fate would have it, one of the few guys who won't be back next season for Arkansas, senior quarterback Casey Dick, served up a memorable performance in his final game. He came off the bench in the second half after his younger brother, Nathan Dick, injured his thumb on his throwing hand, and rallied the Hogs from a 30-14 deficit.

Casey Dick's 24-yard touchdown pass to London Crawford on fourth-and-1 with 21 seconds to play won it for Arkansas, which was in every game after that wretched three-game stretch against Alabama, Texas and Florida earlier this season. Three of the Hogs' last four losses were by a total of six points.

And while Casey will be departing, Nathan will only be a sophomore next season, and the guy all the Arkansas fans can't wait to see at quarterback is Michigan transfer Ryan Mallett.

The Hogs lose a couple of key offensive linemen, including center Jonathan Luigs, but all of the guys they leaned on offensively against LSU will be back -- running back Dennis Johnson, tight ends D.J. Williams and Andrew Davie and receivers Jarius Wright, Greg Childs, Lucas Miller and Crawford. That doesn't even count 1,000-yard rusher Michael Smith, who missed the game because of a hamstring injury.

The Razorbacks took their lumps on defense this season. But they were playing a lot of young players, and the top 10 tacklers from this season are scheduled to return.

The more I think about it, the more I like Arkansas to be the breakthrough team in the West next season similar to Ole Miss this season.

Think Petrino is already looking forward to spring practice?