Bret Bielema is gone and first-year head coach Chad Morris is now the head man in charge in Little Rock. Morris spent three seasons at SMU, amassing a 14-22 overall record and an 8-16 record in the American Athletic Conference. Things won’t get any easier in the SEC but Morris will have some pieces to work with. Offensively, senior left guard Hjalte Froholdt (6’5, 315) and sophomore running back Chase Hayden (5’10, 200) will be tasked with making plays in the running game. Froholdt has started 25 straight games at guard after transitioning from the defensive line. Hayden finished the 2017 season with 326 yards and four touchdowns on 61 carries before suffering a leg fracture in October. Defensively, the linebackers are the position group of strength. Junior linebacker De’Jon Harris and senior linebacker Dre Greenlaw (6’0, 227) have the talent to transition to new defensive coordinator John Chavis’ 4-3 defense after playing in the 3-4 in 2017. Chavis comes from Texas A&M after spending five years at LSU. The new defensive coordinator is used to coaching in the SEC and his units consistently produce NFL draft picks. In a season which could include its bumps and bruises, expect the Razorbacks defense to adapt quicker than its offense.
Troy’s player to watch
8 De’Jon Harris 6’0 244 LB-Junior
The junior linebacker did it all for the Razorbacks defense last season. He led the team in tackles (115), tackles for loss (8.5) and sacks (3.5) in 2017. Harris finished second in the conference in tackles and was named second-team All-SEC. The list of NFL linebackers Arkansas has produced includes Matrell Spaight, Caleb Miller and Tony Bua. Harris is an every-down linebacker who will be counted on to lead the Razorbacks through a rebuilding process.
Game of the season
September 29th vs. Texas A&M
Arkansas won just one conference game last season but did take Texas A&M into overtime before ultimately falling. The Razorbacks will get a chance to avenge their loss from a year ago in Arlington. A win against the Aggies could drastically accelerate the rebuild in Little Rock.
Arkansas won just four games last season but DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson is predicting a two-game improvement in 2018. The Razorbacks will suffer losses to North Texas, Auburn, Texas A&M, Alabama, LSU and Mississippi State. The Razorbacks may become bowl-eligible, but still are a long way from competing with the conference’s elite teams.