I love me some top 10s. I usually stay up for David Lettermen's first 30 minutes before I start dreaming about beating Georgia, Alabama or Ole Miss.
So why not find my own top 10? How about the 10 reasons why Arkansas could sweep those three SEC foes? I've got ‘em and unlike past seasons, the idea isn't that farfetched.
Arkansas could go 12-0. It won't, but there are reasons why it could. I can see winning every game. I can also see some that they probably won't win.
But in this space today, it's going to be the top 10 reasons the Hogs will win them all.
1 - Ryan Mallett. No one in the SEC has anyone like him. He's healthy, mentally focused and having a great fall camp. This is about the time Mallett took off on a tear. I expect that to happen any day now. He's been getting sharper by the day. He's the number one reason the Hogs could go 12-0 this season. Every coach in the SEC (or the country) would take Mallett in a heartbeat. He's as good as there is in college football.
2 - Greg Childs, Joe Adams, Jarius Wright, Cobi Hamilton, De'Anthony Curtis, Lance Ray, Maudrecus Humphrey, Marquel Wade, Julian Horton and Javontee Herndon. That's a top 10, too. No school in the country has a wideout group that dazzles more every day in practice. You could spend an entire day of practice just watching the UA wideouts and have an awesome time. This group is deep and talented and well coached. They are weapons.
3 - Alfred Davis, Dede Jones, Lavunce Askew, Patrick Jones, Byran Jones and Zack Stadther. It's the best defensive line the Hogs have put on the field this century. (Yeah, I know, the century isn't very old. But it's a nice phrase to make a point.) You aren't going to make it far in the SEC without defensive tackles. That's the main difference between this Bobby Petrino team and his first two. You are going to love Alfred. He's a 320-pounder with ability to run. He's added stamina. He might be as good an SEC player as there is on this team.
4 - Jake Bequette, Damario Ambrose, Tenarius Wright and Chris Smith. The Hogs are toying with the idea of putting Bequette, Ambrose and Wright on the field at the same time. I'd use all four of them at the same time in third-and-long. Bequette is much improved. I've always liked his long, lean frame and ability to run. But he looks like he's finding the ball better now. He is poised for a breakout junior year and the others may be right on his heels. The secondary is going to love some of the hurried tosses they see with these guys chasing the quarterback. One of Petrino's keys to playing defense is to hit the quarterback. That's going to happen this season.
5 - Improved kicking. I believe that is finally going to become a reality. Competition makes the world rotate. It also makes a football team better. Alex Tejada will have to be a better kicker if he's to get on the field. And if he makes a mistake, Eddie Camara will be waiting in the wings. Both appear to be more than adequate to win games through the first two weeks of camp. Camara is already a better kicker than I've seen this century at Arkansas. (Sorry, I did it again.) No one wins them all without great kicking. The Hogs have more parts to have a great kicking game and that's a great sign.
6 - Unlock the safety. That's what I think has happened with the Arkansas defense. There are safeties ready now. Tramain Thomas, Elton Ford and Rudell Crim all look like SEC players to me. If they can help eliminate the big play, this Arkansas team could win every game. That would be just the improvement the Hogs need to get over the hump.
7 - DeMarcus Love and Ray Dominguez. Switching Love to the weak side and Dominguez to the strong might have been the trick to solidify this offensive line. They are solid SEC tackles at their current spots. Love is an All-SEC type as a backside protector. Keeping Mallett clean could lead to a 12-0 season.
8 - Nastiness. That's what they say Chris Klenakis brings to the offensive line. If this bunch is truly nasty, it might be the last piece to the puzzle. There's nothing wrong with a nasty group up front to spring loose Dennis Johnson, Ronnie Wingo, Broderick Green and Knile Davis. Oh, wouldn't Bobby Petrino at the SEC title game be a nasty blow to all of those folks in Atlanta. A big year from the O-line could make it happen.
9 - D. J. Williams, Chris Gragg, Ben Cleveland, Austin Tate, Garrett Uekman, Brad Hefley, Van Stumon. It's the deepest tight end group in the country to match the deepest wideout group. There are blockers, pass catchers and some that do all of the above. Cleveland is probably the most forgotten man on the team and he's a solid SEC tight end ready for a great final season.
10 - Bobby Petrino. He came to the Ozarks advertised as the best playcaller in college football. He hasn't done anything to tarnish that reputation. And he's quietly gone about the task of doing much more to restore the pride in Razorback Nation. He shouldn't be expected to take this team to a 12-0 season, but he might!
All of this should carry an asterisk. It's not a prediction of a 12-0 season. I went on record this week with a forecast of a 9-3 regular season with a bowl win.
But if they somehow catch fire -- and are poised to do that -- I also want to be on record with something that hinted that I saw it coming. I'll have this with 10 big reasons.
State of the Hogs: Perfection
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