FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas will begin spring football drills on Thursday, March 9, and many questions will begin to be answered in those 15 practices.
For the first time since Sam Pittman has been at Arkansas the offense and defense will have new coordinators. Barry Odom left to become head coach at UNLV and Kendal Briles accepted the offensive coordinator position at TCU after previously considering Mississippi State. Gone are three other assistants with two of them becoming coordinators elsewhere.
With new brings excitement and anticipation. The departing coaches did very good jobs, but the unknown is always intriguing. With Dan Enos the fans are very familiar since he was here for three years including one when Pittman was the offensive line coach (2015). Enos will obviously coach the quarterbacks.
Travis Williams and Marcus Woodson are co-defensive coordinators. Williams has the linebackers while Woodson will be in charge of the secondary. Deron Wilson comes over from Florida to help with the secondary and should provide a boost with Louisiana recruiting. Morgan Turner will coach the tight ends and is considered an elite teacher and developer with many of his former Stanford players in the NFL.
Fans are anxious to see how the new offense and defense will look. All that won’t be known in the spring, but some answers should emerge. Here’s to hoping for good weather on April 15 to avoid last spring’s disappointing final scrimmage in the Walker Pavilion. That is the day for the Red-White game.
A lot of eyes will be on three new wide receivers who transferred in from other schools. Arkansas added Texas A&M-Commerce’s Andrew Armstrong, Hillsdale College’s Isaac TeSlaa and Bowling Green’s Tyrone Broden from the transfer portal.
Each of the three come from smaller colleges, but dominated at that level. Each were very highly recruited as well.
They will join such holdovers as Bryce Stephens, Jaedon Wilson, Isaiah Sategna and Sam Mbake among others.
The nonconference schedule is easier this season than last year, but the overall slate is an interesting one.
Arkansas opens the season on Saturday, Sept. 2, at Little Rock to face Western Carolina. After the opener the Hogs will return to Razorback Stadium to host Kent State and BYU.
It’s after that the schedule gets interesting. Not that long ago the Hogs and LSU played on Black Friday to end the regular season. Then Texas A&M and LSU plus Arkansas and Missouri took on that role. LSU has still been later in the schedule though. But this season, Arkansas will head to Baton Rouge to face LSU on Saturday, Sept. 23, to open SEC play.
In an oddity of sorts, Arkansas won’t play an SEC game in Fayetteville until Saturday, Oct. 21, when Mississippi State is in Fayetteville. After LSU, they go to AT&T Stadium to face Texas A&M on Sept. 30. The Hogs will go to Ole Miss on Oct. 7 and Alabama on Oct. 17.
After hosting Mississippi State, the Hogs will get a bye week to close out October. Then on Nov. 4 they go to Florida. Didn’t the Hogs just go to Gainesville in 2020? I’m not sure if the SEC is aware planes can fly from Gainesville to XNA as well.
After another trip to Gainesville, the remainder of November will be good for Arkansas fans. The Hogs will host Auburn (Nov. 11), FIU (Nov. 18) and then close out the regular season with Missouri coming to Fayetteville.
Return of Deke
For the first time since Pittman has been at Arkansas he will have the same defensive line coach for a second season assuming Deke Adams stays as it appears he will.
That is good for the program since the players have had to experience a different coach each season up until now. I only say assuming Adams stays because I remember Brad Davis left the staff in late spring to join LSU. In the coaching world nothing is ever seemingly set in stone, but it does appear Adams will return for the 2023 season.
He has two new edge players who are interesting. John Morgan III came from Pitt and Trajan Jeffcoat landed with the Hogs after previously playing at Missouri. They join such returning players as Zach Williams, Jashaud Stewart and Landon Jackson among others.
Arkansas is still searching the transfer portal for an interior defensive lineman.