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Author Topic: From the Bench: Winning Season is in the Bank Barring Injuries  (Read 973 times)

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Robert Shields


Winning Season is in the Bank Barring Injuries

Robert Shields

The upcoming Razorback football season has the potential to be one of the best in a very long time. The schedule could not be more favorable with eight home games. At home in conference play, the Hogs face only one really tough team in Auburn. It has Kentucky, Mississippi State, and South Carolina as its other SEC games at home.

There are a few tough road tests such as Alabama, LSU, and Tennessee. Ole Miss at Oxford is also never a cake walk for the Hogs, but that is just life in the SEC. Overall, this is a schedule set up for success with four rent-a-win non-conference games with USC thankfully falling off the schedule. You can count eight games in the bank. As a matter of fact, from my perspective, anything less than nine wins will be disappointing and underachievement.

The Hogs’ offense will be as loaded as any time in history. But as the old adage goes, you win championships with defense. The offense, though, can do its part keeping the defense off the field, which it couldn’t have done under the last offensive coordinator’s sandlot scheme.

What will make or break this season? Special teams play will be pivotal again, and it is anyone’s guess how or if the Hogs’ special teams play will improve from the complete debacle in the kicking game that came in the last three games last season.

A short recap: Against LSU, a missed extra point forced the Hogs to go for two points to try to regain that lost kick. There was also the LSU kickoff return for a touchdown and the Hogs’ inability to kick a field goal when on the LSU side of the field. In the Florida game, the Hogs had a punt blocked, missed a field goal, fumbled a punt into the end zone for an automatic Florida touchdown, and allowed a fake punt for a Florida first down.  For Wisconsin, the Hogs allowed another blocked punt and missed a field goal that set the tone for the rest of the game.

Needless to point out, forget everything else about the offense’s lack of ability to throw the ball -- special teams play destroyed your team.

Almost as important as special teams play for the Hogs this season will be injuries, as it is for any team. This, though, is especially true for the Hogs, in both dealing with past injuries and preventing future ones.

The defense will be good if Michael Grant (who into the season was playing as well as any safety in the country), Freddie Fairchild at linebacker, and Marcus Harrison on the defensive line all get well.

The loss of graduating senior Sam Olajubutu at linebacker makes the return of Freddie Fairchild all the more crucial. Fairchild has the look of an NFL linebacker. He could anchor the defense if he is ready to go. Is he ready to go?

Coming off the complete freak knee injury, Grant could anchor the secondary that will need help and may be the weakness of the defense. Harrison was a mainstay on the defensive line. He has had the shortest recovery time, but is needed up front. The defense gains much depth with the return of these players.

Other past injuries may also play a part. Quarterback Casey Dick has not had to go all the way for an entire season. His durability is still in question after a back injury slowed him early at the beginning of last season.

The same can be said about Peyton Hillis. He has had to deal with being banged up from back to thigh during his time in Fayetteville. My hunch is that he is ready to go and will have a very productive senior season.

Darren McFadden was injured going into the bowl game. For Wisconsin to catch him from behind tells you he was not completely healed. I am sure he is now going into this season. He is durable like a tank, and it’s still incredible that he almost lost his toe last year before the season and in just a few weeks was playing again and ended up the Heisman Trophy runner-up.

The list of players just written is the who’s who of this team, and they have all been injured. It is critical for a successful season that they all stay well.

But if there's one thing I know for sure this season, it's that World Granite is going to rock your world.


Send your list to fromthebench@yahoo.com
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majestic

Re: From the Bench: Winning Season is in the Bank Barring Injuries
« Reply #1 on: August 06, 2007, 01:15:18 pm »

Wally Hall called and wants his article back.
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Re: From the Bench: Winning Season is in the Bank Barring Injuries
« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2007, 01:41:59 pm »

"The offense, though, can do its part keeping the defense off the field, which it couldn’t have done under the last offensive coordinator’s sandlot scheme."

Not a bad article overall..........you are improving, but you just couldn't resist taking one more shot at Gus, could you?
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LSUFan

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Re: From the Bench: Winning Season is in the Bank Barring Injuries
« Reply #3 on: August 06, 2007, 02:06:11 pm »

Nothing bashing 10 year old kids again?
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