Arkansas' passing attack got most of the attention last fall when Michigan transfer Ryan Mallett came in and threw for more than 3,200 yards and 30 touchdowns.
Now the running game looks to get a major upgrade.
A four-way battle among juniors Broderick Green and Dennis Johnson and sophomores Ronnie Wingo Jr. and Knile Davis looms in the spring.
Wingo, who ran for 319 yards but averaged 6.5 yards per carry in 2009, is listed as No. 1 on the depth chart, with Davis (163 yards, 4.9 per carry) at No. 2.
Green, the transfer from Southern California, and Johnson are listed as sharing the No. 3 spot. Green ran for a team-best 442 yards (4.2 per carry), Johnson 342 (6.0) in 2009.
All are hard runners with Green, Wingo and Davis each topping the 6-foot, 220-pound mark. Johnson is a compact 5-9, 213.
With Mallett sitting out the spring, the competition at quarterback will determine his backup. Sophomore Tyler Wilson will begin drills with the No. 1 unit, but redshirt freshman Brandon Mitchell and early enrollee Jacoby Walker also are in the picture.
"I'm excited to see what Brandon can do," coach Bobby Petrino said. "He's 6-4, 230 pounds, and he can run. He adds some things to your offense by being able to make plays with his legs.
"He's got to show us he can be consistent throwing the ball, that he can convert third downs versus tight coverage. I know he's worked hard in the offseason and we'll see how it goes through spring ball with his ability to throw the football on a consistent basis."NOTES, QUOTES
SPRING OBJECTIVES: The Razorbacks are going to have to sort things at running back, where junior Ronnie Wingo starts out No. 1 on the depth chart ahead of sophomore Knile Davis and juniors Broderick Green and Dennis Johnson. The competition at quarterback among Tyler Wilson and Jacoby Walker will determine who is No. 2 behind starter Ryan Mallett, who is out. Three critical holes at end, tackle, and linebacker need to be filled on defense.
"We need to shed blocks, get off blocks and not stay blocked," coach Bobby Petrino said. "A lot of that is technique and a lot of it is attitude. We also need all 11 guys to run full speed to the ball. There were times last season we had four or five guys doing that, but not all 11."
BUILDING BLOCKS: QB Ryan Mallett gives the Hogs the top passer in the SEC for 2010. He threw for 3,624 yards and 30 touchdowns last year. Wide receivers Greg Childs, Jarius Wright and Joe Adams combined to catch 118 passes for 19 touchdowns last season, and TE D.J. Williams, who was tempted to leave early for the NFL Draft, had 32 receptions for three more scores. LB Jerry Franklin, the leading tackler in 2009, is back. CB Isaac Madison, out with a knee injury last fall, could make a big difference in the secondary if he is back to his 2008 form (48 tackles, one interception).
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I'm excited about the depth we have coming back and the guys we will have competing to try to take other guys' jobs. That's the first thing about spring football. It's about competition for positions. Everybody gets an opportunity to go out and see how they affect the depth chart. That's something I'm looking forward to." -- Coach Bobby Petrino, looking to the start of spring practice on March 30.STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
2010 OUTLOOK: Arkansas looks to be a point machine in 2010 with all the key players back from an attack that averaged better than 37 points and game last fall. QB Ryan Mallett threw for more yards and touchdowns than any other passer in the league, and his pass efficiency rating was better than that of Florida's Tim Tebow. If the Hogs can stop people -- they gave up 402 yards a game last year -- they will be a big factor in the SEC Western Division.
QB Jacoby Walker -- Walker is an early freshman enrollee out of Houston, Texas, who was recruited in case Ryan Mallett decided to enter the NFL Draft. Mallett is staying, but Walker now finds himself in a position to contend for a backup role. Coach Bobby Petrino calls him "very mature."
WR Lance Ray -- Ray played running back and safety in high school in Havana, Fla., and also returned kickoffs. He has nice size (6-3, 207) and is listed as No. 2 on the spring depth chart behind veteran Greg Childs.
LG Alvin Bailey -- Bailey, a redshirt freshman, is listed as 6-5, 323, and will compete with junior Grant Cook for a starting spot.
S Jerry Mitchell -- If nothing else, Mitchell, a redshirt freshman, should stick out in the secondary. He's stands 6-7. Mitchell is No. 2 on the depth chart behind senior Anthony Leon, who had two starts last year.
--QB Ryan Mallett (recovering from foot surgery) is the most notable player sitting out the spring. Also on the injured list with undisclosed injuries are DE Tenarius Wright and DB David Gordon.
--Junior CB Isaac Madison, who missed last season with a knee injury, is listed as No. 3 on the depth chart for the spring. He started 11 games in 2008, played in all 12, and had 48 tackles and one interception.
Previous Report: 04/09/2010