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Texas A&M Football

Arkansas hoping for a big turnaround after disastrous 2018 season

June 6, 2019

If history does indeed repeat itself, the Arkansas Razorbacks are hoping for echoes to reverberate from long ago.

Arkansas is hoping to rebound from last season’s 2-10 disaster — which included losses to Colorado State and North Texas. It was arguably the worst football season in the program’s history.

Indeed, the only season in which the Razorbacks have managed fewer victories was in 1932 when they finished 1-6-2 and lost to something called Missouri Rolla.

However, the next year the Razorbacks bounced back to post seven victories.

Truth be told, second-year Arkansas coach Chad Morris would probably take seven victories right now. That would almost double the four Southeastern Conference wins Arkansas has managed over the past three seasons.

But truth be told, seven wins is likely too ambitious. The Razorbacks will likely have to scratch and claw just to make a legitimate run at the six wins necessary for bowl eligibility.

Alex Parker, TexAgs
Rakeem Boyd, who started his career as an Aggie, has the potential for a 1,000 yard season with the Hogs in 2019.

The Razorbacks no longer have guard Hjalte Froholdt, their best offensive lineman last season. Productive linebacker Dre Greenlaw completed his eligibility. Cornerback Ryan Pulley, their top defensive back, opted for early entry to the NFL draft. He wasn’t selected, but he signed as a free agent with the Arizona Cardinals. Last year’s quarterback Ty Storey transferred to Western Kentucky, leading receiver La’Michael Petway transferred to Iowa State and tight end Austin Cantrell just quit football.

But there are reasons to the Hogs to be encouraged, too.

Star defensive lineman McTelvin Agim shunned the NFL draft and returned for his senior season. He’ll head up the defense along with linebacker De’Jon Harris, who last season accumulated 118 tackles. Running back Rakeem Boyd, who started his collegiate career at Texas A&M, is a legitimate threat to rush for 1,000 yards. Help is coming from a recruiting class that was ranked 23rd in the nation.

The Razorbacks also are getting help with quarterback transfers Ben Hicks from SMU and Nick Starkel from Texas A&M.

Hicks passed for 2,582 yards and 19 touchdowns last season. Starkel, an A&M starter in 2017, passed for just 169 yards last season. The strong-armed Starkel projects to emerge as the starting quarterback, which should give the Razorbacks an immediate and obvious upgrade.

Still, that leaves Arkansas counting on a backup Texas A&M backfield – Starkel and Boyd – to crawl out of the SEC West cellar.

Arkansas Razorbakcs

  • Coach: Chad Morris
  • 2018 record: 2-10, 0-8
  • Postseason results: None

Returning starters:

  • Offense (6): RB Rakeem Boyd, C Ty Clary, LT Colton Jackson, TE Cheyenne O’Grady, WR Deon Stewart, WR Mike Woods
  • Defense (6): DT McTelvin Agim, SS Kamren Curl, MLB De’Jon Harris, CB Jarques McClellion, NB D’Vone McClure.
  • Special teams (4): P Reid Bauer, K Connor Limpert, PR Deon Stewart, KR De’Vion Warren.

Areas of strength: The running back position is very sound with starter Rakeem Boyd, a legitimate 1,000-yard threat. He averaged 6 yards per carry while rushing for 734 yards, including a 102-yard effort against Alabama. There’s solid depth with senior Devwah Whaley, who opened last season as the starter.  He’s rushed for 1,529 yards in his career. If only they can get sufficient blocking…

The offensive line wasn’t good last year, and that was with Hjalte Froholdt, a fourth-round draft pick of the New England Patriots.

Areas of concern: The offensive line wasn’t good last year, and that was with Hjalte Froholdt, a fourth-round draft pick of the New England Patriots. The Razorbacks must replace two other departed seniors, too. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though – last season Arkansas ranked 13th in the SEC in rushing offense and 12th in sacks allowed. Perhaps some new starters to join tackle Colton Jackson and center Ty Clary will be an upgrade.

Top players:

  • Rakeem Boyd, RB: Didn’t start the first four games and still rushed for more than 700 yards behind a suspect line last season. He’s a good receiver, too.
  • McTelvin Agim, DT: Sosa, as he’s known, has been a productive fixture in the defensive line since his freshman season. He shunned the NFL draft to come back for his senior year. Agim led the Hogs in tackles for loss and quarterback hurries as a defensive end last season. He’s expected to shift inside where his quickness must compensate for his lack of size at 280 pounds.
  • DeJon Harris, LB: A two-time All-SEC selection, Harris posted 118 tackles (including 62 solos) in 2018 after posting 115 as a sophomore in 2017. He’s consistently productive, but is recovering from a surgery to insert a screw in a slightly fractured foot. That forced him to miss most of spring drills.

Biggest loss: The temptation is to put Froholdt here. But the Razorbacks line struggled even with him. A bigger loss might be linebacker Dre Greenlaw, who posted 320 tackles in his career. Greenlaw was selected in the first round of the NFL draft by the San Francisco 49ers. 

Impact newcomer: The answer is whoever starts at quarterback. That could be Texas A&M transfer Nick Starkel or Ben Hicks, who started for Morris at SMU in 2017. The guess here is Starkel, who at least has experience in the SEC. Starkel started at A&M in 2016 and has passed for 1,962 yards and 15 touchdowns in his career. He’ll play behind a suspect line and without proven receivers, but still should be an upgrade over 2018 Arkansas starter Ty Storey.

2019 schedule:

  • Aug. 31 vs. Portland State
  • Sept. 7 at Ole Miss
  • Sept. 14 vs. Colorado State
  • Sept. 21 vs. San Jose State
  • Sept. 28 vs. Texas A&M at Arlington
  • Oct. 5 OPEN
  • Oct. 12 at Kentucky
  • Oct. 19 vs. Auburn
  • Oct. 26 at Alabama
  • Nov. 2 vs. Mississippi State
  • Nov. 9 vs. Western Kentucky
  • Nov. 16 OPEN
  • Nov. 23 at LSU
  • Nov. 30 vs. Missouri
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