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Arkansas Razorbacks get an indifferent opinion from an anonymous SEC coach

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – There’s a lot of time between now and the start of the 2024 college football season for Arkansas. The landscape of the sport is changing rapidly and will likely look different sooner or later.

For Arkansas, things always seem to stay the same. Outside of the Chad Morris debacle, it has been difficult for anyone to truly predict the Razorbacks season for over a decade.

That wasn’t the case for Arkansas from 1998 to 2011 during the height of the program’s success in the SEC. Houston Nutt and Bobby Petrino led the Razorbacks to three 10-win regular seasons. Those also happen to be the only seasons in which the Hogs have won 10 times since joining the SEC. Expectations were high that the team would remain competitive after Bret Bielema was hired after seven successful seasons at Wisconsin. That era ended with a 4-8 season and death penalty, along with two seasons under Morris with a 4-20 record.

Clearly, Sam Pittman enters the 2024 season from a national perspective with one of the hottest seats in the country. Pittman has done a good job returning the Razorbacks to a respectable state despite unprecedented circumstances within 90 days of taking the job. What he has done well is hire skilled coordinators with head coaching backgrounds to help him navigate being a new head coach. Sure, he’s been paid millions of dollars to lead and he’s made more and more progress. Here’s what an anonymous SEC coach thinks about Arkansas early in the offseason.

“This is the most important task for the SEC heading into the season. Sam (Pittman) is such a respected guy in this industry, you really feel that he has a guy like (new offensive coordinator Bobby) Petrino, who the fans and boosters probably think should be head coach, coming under him . That’s the SEC right there.”

Anonymous coach, Athlon Magazine

Now he not only brings one of the greatest offensive minds in football, but also a celebrated head coach from Arkansas to lead the offense once again. The perception that Petrino is only there to take Pittman’s job is foolish. He knows his place in the structure of the Arkansas organization. It’s doubtful there will even be a conspiracy to overthrow Pittman as head coach. That’s even if the Razorbacks return to their 2021 winning ways.

One of the biggest questions heading into next season is whether or not transfer quarterback Taylen Green can run offense in the SEC. There is tape for him from his time at Boise State as a starter. Moreover, he showed himself quite dynamic in a vanilla version of Petrino’s offense in the Red-White Spring Game.

Nearly half of Arkansas’ roster is made up of transfers and true freshmen. The external pressure this season seems to be mainly focused on Green’s maturation and development under Petrino. This anonymous coach believes a successful season depends on how the former Broncos quarterback and new Razorbacks’ offensive coordinator turn out.

“If Petrino can get (quarterback) Taylen Green ready, they might have a shot at .500 years, but they’re in a shaky situation with their offensive line losses in the spring. Is .500 enough to keep Sam?”

Anonymous SEC coach, Athlon Sports

One of the more underrated position groups on the Arkansas team is the defensive line. Led by returning starters Landon Jackson, Cam Ball and Eric Gregory, this unit should be one of the bright spots next season. They will be joined by FCA Albany transfer Anton Juncaj, who was named an FCS All-American last year after totaling more than 50 tackles with 21.5 for loss and 15 sacks. Optimism for a dominant defensive line cannot be ruled out and this coach agrees.

“The defensive line is probably their best unit, but they just don’t have the overall defensive talent to compete in this league right now.”

Anonymous SEC coach, Athlon Sports

Arkansas has a lot of questions up and down the roster. It makes sense between staff changes and a revision of schedules. Summer will likely last a while, with 2024 being a milestone year in college athletics.

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