We are at that time of the year where the pre-season rankings and pre-season talks start REALLY ramping up with less than 11 days until the Razorbacks Kick Off. Let’s look at some of the pre-season talking that has already happened and is sure to really get the dust stirring when it is brought up again, and again, and again, and again.
So without too much further ado, here are 3 of the biggest questions I think we will all see brought up whenever Arkansas is mentioned in any type of media setting.
1. “Arkansas is always under-rated heading into the season. Why?? I wish we were ranked higher!” – We all here this from fans all day long. As Arkansas Razorback fans we would LOVE to see that coveted “#1” next to our state’s name on ESPN, in the AP and USA TODAY Polls. We would love to FINALLY get recognized for the talent we have on our team! And to you I say “NO!” We don’t want that recognition! Consider this stat fact:
- There have only been 9 times in the past where the pre-season No. 1 has gone on to win the National Championship(this does not include USC in 2004)
- Since 1950, the pre-season No. 1 has only had a 15% chance of winning it all
- The average final ranking for the pre-season No. 1 is 5.29
- SIDE NOTE: The most successful team has been…The OU Sooners, making it all the way 4 times!
So even though that ‘1’ does look really good! I would rather start with a different number, and work our way up. A number in the low single digits to the mid teens(7-17) would be nice. Anything lower and it would be hard to gain enough rankings during the year to make it to the title game. But, any team that gets that ‘1’ next to their name gets an automatic target on their back and every team’s best shot. Which makes the season that much more difficult. And considering that Arkansas plays in the BEST division in the BEST conference, the less attention we get, the better.
2. “Can Dennis Johnson and/or Ronnie Wingo fill the void that Knile Davis left at Running Back?” – Yes AND No. It will be extremely hard for the Razorbacks to
replace the production that Knile was able to provide before his injury. He was an all around back. The best at every aspect in his position on the team. So now, the “professional analysts” from all the major sporting outlets are already counting Arkansas out of contention for even the SEC West! But, one thing they aren’t looking at…are the stats.
- Dennis Johnson has lots of stats to get to. And to save time and space here are his career stats. And keep in mind he was injured in Week 2 of the 2010-2011 season. So he has 2 years and 2 weeks under his belt of playing time at Arkansas.
27 = Games played at Arkansas
2,014 = Kick off return yards (leads SEC)
2 = Kick off returns for TDs
23.98 = AVERAGE Kick off return yardage
102 = Rush Attempts
608 = Yards on Rush Attempts
2 = Rushing TDs scored
5.96 = AVERAGE Yards per Rush
These stats are not bad for a 2nd year player. In 2009 he ranked 9th in the SEC in total offense with 111.15 yards with only 2 starts, against then No. 1 Florida and against Eastern Carolina in the Liberty Bowl game. Dennis Johnson can carry a load at Running Back. Enough to keep defenses off of Petrino’s and Wilson’s scent.
- Ronnie Wingo, Jr. is not the running back you want to write off. Even though his numbers aren’t stellar…well, you will see for yourself.
26 = Games played at Arkansas
90 = Rushing Attempts
572 = Yards on rush attempts
6.36 = AVERAGE yards per rush
4 = Rushing TDs scored
32 = Passes Caught
373 = Yards gained on pass catches
5 = Passing TD catches
These next stats will be from 2009 which is a good indication of 2011 because Knile Davis didn’t emerge until 2010 so Wingo saw about as much action as he will in 2011-2012.
8.5 = AVERAGE yards per carry in the “CRITICAL ZONE” (30yd line – Goal) Led the SEC
6.5 = AVERAGE yards per carry (1st on team in 2009)
7.78 = AVERAGE yards per carry in the 2nd half (27th nationally)
So there you have it. Will Arkansas suffer without its feature back Knile Davis? Possibly, but the stats seem to suggest that between the two backs that remain as “leaders” at their position, Arkansas looks like it will be in good hands, or should I say arms…anyway, Arkansas is a LONG way from out of the race for anything in 2011!
3. “Tyler Wilson is an unproven QB. He played ONE game last year…you have to take that game with a grain of salt!” – WRONG! WRONG! WRONG! This is the SEC West! Where every week, just like the NFL, any team could lose to any other team! Now, if Wilson posted his stats on say, Vanderbilt, then yes, grains of salts would be taken in regards to Tyler Wilson. BUT, since his stellar outing came against the eventual NATIONAL CHAMPIONS, I would say it was a pretty dang good indicator as far as what we can expect from him. And now…you guessed it…stat time.
- Tyler Wilson came on only in relief of Ryan Mallett last season. He never started a game and never received any lengthy playing time other than against Auburn. So I will give you his career stats and remind you of his stats against Auburn in 2010.
13 = Games Played at Arkansas
67/109 = Pass Completions/Pass Attempts
740 = Passing yards
61.47 = Completion Percentage
7 = TDs Thrown
Ok, here are his stats from the Auburn game in 2010. AND keep in mind that he acquired these in less than 3 full quarters of playing time.
332 = Passing yards
4 = TDs Thrown
25/34 = Pass Completions/Pass Attempts
73.53 = Completion Percentage
So as you can see, if Wilson puts up those numbers against the eventual National Champion in under 3 quarters of work. It is easy to see him shredding defenses this season. So there is no need to have grains of salt anywhere near Tyler Wilson. He has proven himself and will only get better when he is the main QB working and throwing to arguably the best stable of WRs in the country.
There is always cause for concern with college teams. They can’t trade, participate in a supplementary draft, or hire a free agent when their top Running Back goes down. They have to shift and make do. And I think the Running Backs we have in reserves and the supporting cast that is around them to help them out are more than sufficient to fill the void. There is NO WAY Arkansas can completely be counted out of anything.
So when your Bama/LSU/Auburn homer friends want to try to drag down the Razorbacks. Throw these stats at them and see how they like it. See how they like 332 yards in less than 3 quarters against the National Champ’s Defense in 2010. See how they like 23.9 yard average kick off returns. And ask them how they like Wingo’s 6.3 average yards per carry.
When they can’t think of anything to say, just smile, say a snide “Woo Pig Sooie” and walk away. Nothing else will need to be said. So let the entire country doubt and under-rate us. They are putting us exactly where we want to be.
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