The Arkansas Razorbacks were one of the most surprising teams of the 2021 season and they are looking to continue their upward trend in 2022. Sam Pittman is looking like an excellent hire as head coach. The Razorbacks finished 9-4 and were ranked as high as 8th during the season. They finished with wins over Texas, Texas A&M, Penn State and LSU. Pittman’s team has one of the hardest schedules for the upcoming season but matching their win total for 2021 should still be the expectation.
Arkansas has plenty of reasons to be excited about the upcoming season and one of them is their exceptional quarterback KJ Jefferson. Jefferson was one of the best and most efficient quarterbacks in the SEC last season. He tossed 21 touchdowns with only four interceptions. Jefferson was third in the SEC in yards per attempt (9.10) and fourth in completion percentage (67.3%). His running ability sets him apart from other quarterbacks in the SEC. He finished second in rushing yards by a quarterback (664 yards) only behind former Florida Gator Emory Jones.
The Razorbacks will be looking to replace former wide receiver Treylon Burks. Burks was one of the best wide outs in the SEC catching 66 passes for 1104 yards and 11 touchdowns. He was the primary target for Jefferson. The Razorbacks will rely on Warren Thompson and Jadon Haselwood. Thompson is the leading returning receiver after totaling 304 yards last season. Haselwood is a transfer from Oklahoma who will likely be inserted into the starting position. He is a big target standing at 6’3″ while weighing about 205 pounds. Haselwood also brings a wealth of experience after starting for the Sooners and catching six touchdowns. Finding a way to replace Burks’ production is vital to the success of the Razorbacks offense as they relied on him heavily each game.
The defense is being rebuilt through the transfer portal. The Razorbacks have added six defensive players who will likely play key roles. One player in particular to watch is linebacker Drew Sanders. Sanders is a former five star player who transferred from Alabama. Sanders suffered an injury halfway through the season which limited his playing time in the second half of the season. He made a crucial tackle against Florida to prevent the Gators from converting on their two point try when attempting to tie the game. Having a player of Sanders’ caliber on the Arkansas defense could be a gamechanger and help elevate the team.
Another player to watch on the defense is Dwight McGlothern. McGlothern is a defensive back who transferred from LSU after two seasons. He played in nine games finishing with 34 tackles, 1 interception, 5 pass breakups and a forced fumble. His lone interception was returned for a touchdown. The former four star defensive back will likely start at cornerback for the Razorbacks. Arkansas will face numerous top tier wide receivers which means having lock down cornerbacks is necessary. McGlothern has not quick shown his ability to be a lock down cornerback yet but he possesses the talent to become one.
The schedule for Arkansas is not friendly. Nonconference games against Cincinnati, BYU and Liberty make for a difficult slate. The Razorbacks did luck out with their away games as they only have four true road games. They will host Alabama, Ole Miss, LSU, and South Carolina. The matchup against Texas A&M is being played in Arlington at the home of the Dallas Cowboys. Arkansas will need a few upsets to reach nine wins again but the talent is on the team. Pittman has proved himself as a competent head coach and should be at the reigns for the foreseeable future.