With one month of college football behind us, has the Arkansas team met or failed expectations thus far?
Arkansas was a preseason Top 10 team, so 1-3 isn't meeting expectations. The season took a downward turn when Tyler Wilson went out with a concussion against Louisiana-Monroe. The Razorbacks led 28-7 early in the second half, but lost 34-31 in overtime. The 52-0 loss to Alabama was played without Wilson. He returned against Rutgers, but defensive problems swallowed the Hogs after an early 10-0 lead.
What one player has been the key factor in the first 3-4 games?
There's little doubt that Wilson's injury - and the loss of cornerback Tevin Mitchel - have been the key factors in the disappointing start. The Hogs have suffered through cornerback issues with Mitchel out and senior corner Darius Winston falling out of the lineup because of poor play.
What are the key improvements that need to be made in order to ensure a successful season?
Improvement would have to be measured first on defense where the Hogs have been gashed for big plays in the passing game. There has been little help at linebacker where Tenarius Wright has fallen out of the lineup in the middle. The running game has been ineffective despite the return of preseason All-SEC running back Knile Davis. He's gotten little help from his offensive line.
How would your team define "success" this season?
After three straight losses, success is hard to define for Arkansas right now. There have been few bright spots as the Hogs try to recover from the loss of Head Coach Bobby Petrino in the offseason. John L. Smith was given a 10-month contract in the spring and few things have gone right for Smith so far. Offensive Coordinator Paul Petrino and Defensive Coordinator Paul Haynes are trying to improve the details and find ways to impact execution errors. One of the big issues is turnovers. The team is last in the nation in turnover ratio.
What is the most dominant headline the remainder of the season?
The most dominant headline won't happen until a new coach is named. It's clear that Smith isn't going to be it. He was never given the interim title, but it's quickly become obvious that it won't be a long-term contract. The speculation on the new coach will dominate talk in Arkansas for the coming weeks.
Thanks to Hawgs Illustrated's Clay Henry for his in-depth contribution to this report.