The wait is over! College football is back and it’s game day, Hog fans. The off season this year has built high expectations for the Razorbacks. With the number one tight end recruiting class in the nation, the addition of JUCO All-American receiver Dominique Reed. and 5th year starting quarterback Brandon Allen on the Manning watch list, we have good cause to look forward to big things this year for Razorback Football.
On the topic of big things, let’s not forget the massive offensive line we are putting on the field. Weighing in at a 328 lb. average, the word “big” starts to become an understatement while the word “massive” begins to better fit the largest o-line in the SEC. I find myself asking the old question, is bigger always better?
Nov 22, 2014; Fayetteville, AR, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks offensive lineman Denver Kirkland (55)Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports
This is now the second year that the Hogs have had the Goliath front. However, with being a “run first” offense, were the results on the ground as big as the Goliath itself?
Let’s look at another team that has the same style of fighting it in the trenches, Georgia, who lead the SEC in rushing in 2014. The Bulldog front averaged 304 pounds with and average of 258 yards per game on the ground. The Hogs, ranked 6th in the SEC, put up 218 yards a game with only 2 more attempts than the Dogs, for a total of 2,834 yards. Georgia ran 3,352 yards for the year, averaging a yard more per carry than Arkansas with 6.04.
That is a whole lot of stats but what does it amount to in all reality? Breaking it down to a fun stat of pounds per yard efficiency, the Razorbacks .66 yards per pound is dwarfed by the Dog’s .84 yards per pound average.
So is bigger always better? No.
Should you panic? No.
The definition of insanity is trying the same thing multiple times expecting different results. Though some might disagree, Bret Bielema is not insane. Changes have come to player positions with Denver Kirkland moving from right guard to left tackle, and Dan Skipper going from left tackle to right tackle. Some are already worried that this will only worsen rather than help, but according to Bielema, “Nothing is permanent.”
The biggest change from last season comes at the head of the offense itself with the hire of former Central Michigan head coach, Dan Enos.
Jul 15, 2015; Birmingham, AL, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks head coach Bret Bielema speaks to media during SEC media days at the Wynfrey Hotel. Mandatory Credit: Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports
The main key to success however, comes by having four returning starters. The experience that Kirkland, Skipper, Tretola and Smothers have will be a game changer this season.
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Although it’s the first day of the SEC football season, the razorback football team’s new and improved o-line won’t be taking the field until Saturday at 2:30 to face off the UTEP Miners. I look forward to seeing the Hogs meet and exceed the expectations of the new season by learning from the mistakes of the previous.