Can Arkansas Make a Huge Jump in 2014?
It didn't start off so bad, as the Razorbacks rushed out to a 3-0 start to the 2013 regular season. But things came crashing down in a hurry. Nine games later, Arkansas sat at 3-9, having run the table in reverse in the SEC.
To be honest though, expectations weren't exactly high in Bielema's first year.
The program was still in shambles from the firing of Bobby Petrino in early 2012, and even a proven coach like Bielema wasn't going to completely change the landscape of Arkansas football in one season.
But a new year has arrived, and with that comes high expectations for Bielema and his staff. Going winless in the SEC in your first year is one thing. Doing it back-to-back years is another.
So, can the Razorbacks make enough progress to prevent that from happening?
On offense, Arkansas returns its three biggest weapons in quarterback Brandon Allen, running back Alex Collins, and tight end Hunter Henry. The running game will continue to fuel this team, but can the offensive line be good enough to help the rushing attack be as effective as needs to be? And can Allen (or whoever wins the quarterback competition) at least make the passing game respectable?
Changes are in place on defense as new defensive coordinator Robb Smith takes over a unit that ranked 105th in the country in total defense a year ago. Needless to say, significant improvement needs to be made there if Arkansas wants to win games.
With all that said, do the Razorbacks really stack up with the top teams in the SEC? Not right now. And unless this team significantly improves by the time August rolls around, it could once again be in for a long season.
The 2014 schedule doesn't help matters, either, but that's the nature of the beast in the SEC West. The Hogs get Georgia at home and Missouri on the road to complete their conference schedule, and a non-conference battle at Texas Tech won't be easy.
It's hard to see Bielema finding much success in year two in terms of wins.
However, the progress will ultimately determine if the program can get back on a level playing field with the best of the best in the SEC. Speaking of the best of the best, Arkansas opens the season at Auburn on August 30.
It's safe to say we'll have a pretty good idea of how far this team has come after that game.
How do you think Arkansas will fare in 2014? Let us know by commenting below! For more college football talk, follow FanIQ College Football or myself on Twitter!