Arkansas Notebook: Razorbacks Razor Sharp

Whenever Darren McFadden walks onto the field, he becomes the one defense's won't let out of their sight. The only question will be from which direction. Will they be in front of him or behind? The odds on favorite to win the Heisman Trophy this season, McFadden was compared to Barry Sanders in Houston Nutt's forty minute press conference at SEC Media Days on Wednesday afternoon.


What's entertaining about the Razorbacks this season is their multi-faceted attack. This is not a one man show, by any means. Arguably the best backfield in the country, Felix Jones has been called the Scottie Pippen to McFadden's Michael Jordan by Athlon. A great comparison, it exemplifies everything about this tandem. The attention focused on the running game frees up Marcus Monk, an explosive senior split end.

Nutt on the offseason:

"I'm proud of how hard our guys worked. I'm proud of their commitment. I'm proud of their attitude. Our guys have been through quite a bit during the offseason. I think we've become very, very close."

Nutt on being the underdog:

"I think the one thing that got overshadowed was our championship run. It's hard to get that, guys. It's really hard to get to Atlanta (showing the ring). You never pick us. That's okay. We probably won't be picked again this year to get there, and that's okay."

The Offense

The Darren McFadden show roles out September 1st against Troy, a team Coach Nutt said is extremely underrated.

McFadden didn't do much last year, except rush for 1,647 yards and 14 touchdowns. His co-star in the backfield, Felix Jones rushed for 1,168 yards and six touchdowns of his own.

While the defense was bearing down on the ground attack, senior Marcus Monk snagged 50 balls for 962 yards and 11 touchdowns.

It goes without saying, junior QB Casey Dick has much to be thankful for. As if that isn't enough, Dick has junior center Jonathan Luigs, an All-SEC first team performer, in front of him. He also has senior right guard Robert Felton beginning his third year as a starter.

The key to Arkansas' success is the development of Casey Dick. Last year, Dick completed only 49 percent of his passes, but if he can develop into a more efficient passer, Arkansas can be a national power.

Darren McFadden was quick to dole out the confidence in his starting quarterback, "Casey Dick is something we don't have to worry about. Casey is experienced and ready to play."



Quarterback Casey Dick will have the luxury of arguably the best backfield in the country working behind him this season.


Defense:

The defense returns six starters this season but has been decimated by graduation, the NFL and injury. Replacing Jamaal Anderson, Keith Jackson, Jr., Chris Houston and Sam Olajubutu will be tough, but the loss of Tackle Marcus Harrison to a torn knee ligament in the spring was exactly what the unit did not need.

Antwain Robinson, Weston Dacus and sophomore Freddie Fairchild are the heart and soul of the unit. Much has been made about the raw talent and possibilities of Fairchild. Defensive coordinator, Reggie Herring calls Fairchild one of the most courageous young men he's ever seen.

Weston Dacus said one of the main keys to the team's success this year is the defense's ability to "come out strong."

"The biggest thing we can do is come out strong. We have come out slow on defense the last couple of years. This year we have to come out on fire with Alabama being the second game."

In conclusion:

Being underrated and lacking respect, to a degree is something this Razorback team seems to feed off of. After a wild offseason of transfers, injuries and attacks into the personal life of Head Coach Houston Nutt, the team has gelled, according to Weston, Nutt and McFadden, like never before.

Nevertheless, the 2007 Arkansas Razorbacks will be fun to watch. If the defense can keep them in the game, the offense will likely do the rest.


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