2012 UK opponent preview: Arkansas

jclay@herald-leader.comAugust 27, 2012 

Arkansas Spring Football

Tyler Wilson was the first Razorback in school history to be named first-team All-SEC quarterback. He threw 31 TD passes last season.

APRIL L BROWN — ASSOCIATED PRESS

  • Arkansas' schedule

    Sept. 1Jacksonville State

    Sept. 8x-Louisiana-Monroe

    Sept. 15Alabama

    Sept. 22Rutgers

    Sept. 29At Texas A&M

    Oct. 6At Auburn

    Oct. 13Kentucky

    Oct. 27x-MISSISSIPPI

    Nov. 3TULSA

    Nov. 10At South Carolina

    Nov. 17At Mississippi State

    Nov. 23LSU

    x-at Little Rock, Ark.

Date: Oct. 6 at Fayetteville, Ark.

Coach: John L. Smith will serve as the interim coach after Bobby Petrino was fired following revelations that he hired a former girlfriend/mistress for a position in the football department. Smith was 83-43 as head coach at Utah State, Louisville and Michigan State. He was an assistant at Arkansas under Petrino before briefly taking the head coaching job at Weber State. He returned to Arkansas when Petrino was fired.

Offense: Eight starters return from a high-powered unit that led the Southeastern Conference in scoring last season, averaging 36.8 points per game. Back is quarterback Tyler Wilson, and the Razorbacks hope to have running back Knile Davis, who sat out last season after ankle surgery. He led the SEC in rushing with 1,322 yards in 2010. But an important piece is not back. That's Petrino, who coordinated the offense and was one of the nation's best coaches on that side of the football.

Defense: Six starters return from a unit that was just ninth in total defense last year in the SEC. Linebacker Alonzo Highsmith leads the way for new defensive coordinator Paul Haynes, who came to Fayetteville from Ohio State. Haynes coordinated the Arkansas defense in the Cotton Bowl and the Razorbacks held Kansas State to just 87 yards rushing. The Wildcats averaged 185.5 on the season.

Overall: Expectations are high but so are the distractions after Petrino's sudden and messy departure. Smith's familiarity with the job and the personnel should help and he has the experience of being a head coach. But the Arkansas offense is sure to miss Petrino's play calling.

Series: Kentucky is 4-2 against Arkansas since the Razorbacks entered the league in 1992. UK has won the last two meetings, including a 21-20 victory over Petrino and the Hogs in 2008. That was the last meeting between the two teams. John L. Smith was 2-3 against Kentucky during his five years at Louisville.

Schedule: The biggest game for the Razorbacks is Sept. 15 when defending national champ Alabama comes to Fayetteville. Arkansas finishes the season with road games at South Carolina and Mississippi State before coming home to play LSU.

John Clay: (859) 231-3226. Twitter: @johnclayiv. Blog: johnclay.bloginky.com

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