Season report card: Arkansas

Arkansas was in the BCS hunt right up until the very end of the regular season, but fell short after a trip to Baton Rouge, La.:


Coach Bobby Petrino has shown throughout his coaching career that he knows a little bit about how to run an offense. The Razorbacks brought in new quarterback Tyler Wilson, who was equipped with four future NFL wide receivers, and led the SEC in total offense. Wilson led the SEC in passing, averaging 285.2 yards per game, and he also had 22 passing touchdowns. Wilson was very efficient for the Razorbacks, completing 63 percent of his passes and tossing just six interceptions. Jarius Wright and Joe Adams ranked in the top 10 in the SEC in receiving, with Wright leading the league with 93.5 yards per game and 11 touchdowns. Arkansas worked with a pretty inexperienced offensive line, but it was a line that grew as the season progressed. That growth became more evident in the running game. The Hogs started the season being very inconsistent running the ball and couldn't find a true number one to replace the injured Knile Davis. Following Week 6, Arkansas' running game gained more consistency and found a leader in Dennis Johnson, who led Arkansas with 637 yards. Arkansas' offense would have been even better with Davis in the lineup. He was arguably the most complete back in the league, but missed the season with an ankle injury.


This was supposed to be Petrino's best Arkansas defense, but the Hogs fell well below expectations. Injuries did pile up, but Arkansas' lack of depth became a glaring issue throughout the year. Arkansas allowed 31.8 points against ranked opponents. Against SEC opponents, the Razorbacks allowed 24.6 points per game. While Arkansas won 10 games, the defense ranked ninth or worse in the SEC in scoring defense, total defense, rushing defense and passing defense. Opponents averaged nearly 19 first downs per game against Arkansas and converted almost 38 percent of their third-down conversions. There were some solid individual performances for the Hogs, as linebacker Jerry Franklin led Arkansas in tackles (93) for the fourth straight year and ranked sixth in the SEC. Defensive end Jake Bequette overcame injury to record eight sacks in just nine games. Linebacker Alonzo Highsmith enjoyed a solid first year in Fayetteville with 10.5 tackles for loss, including 3.5 sacks.


Adams showed why he's such a dynamic athlete by becoming the human highlight reel on punt returns, including his scintillating 60-yard return for a score against Tennessee. He had three touchdowns on returns, and tied for first in the league with 16.2 yards per return. Johnson and Marquel Wade made Arkansas' kickoff team very dangerous. Both ranked in the top 5 in return average and combined for two touchdowns. Zach Hocker led SEC kickers with 8.9 points per game, and hit 18 field goals and 53 extra points. Dylan Breeding led the SEC with 45.2 yards per punt and downed 14 inside opponents' 20-yard lines. Arkansas also ranked third in the league in kickoff coverage.


Petrino had the Hogs in the thick of the BCS hunt yet again in 2011. A win over LSU at the end of the year might have put the Hogs on a path toward the national championship. His team overcame a flurry of injuries to grab double-digit wins for the second straight season. It's no shocker that offensive coordinator Garrick McGee was lured away to become the head coach at UAB after another season of directing Arkansas' offense. The Hogs ranked 26th nationally in offense, averaging 445.8 yards per game. Where Arkansas fell short was on defense. Arkansas was supposed to turn the corner there, but never did during the season and was pushed around by Alabama and LSU. Former defensive coordinator Will Robinson resigned at the end of the regular season.