1. What's the feeling in Fayetteville coming out of the Razorbacks' spring drills?
Lots of excitement. The Hogs ended last season really strongly and bring back every relevant offensive player other than one lineman, but there's optimism because of some new receivers and the new offensive coordinator. There are more questions for the defense but everyone has so much faith on defensive coordinator Robb Smith that fans are, at worst, taking a wait-and-see approach.
2. I see that Brandon Allen had a nice spring game, and he's one of the few QBs in the conference with real experience coming back. Do you think he takes a step forward this year?
I'm not sure how big of a step but I do think there will be improvement as long as he stays healthy. It should be the best group of receivers he's had once Dominique Reed gets on campus, and they'll be helped by a really strong group of tight ends and linemen. New offensive coordinator Dan Enos is likely to install more of a short, quick, high-percentage passing game than what Arkansas' ran the last couple of years, so I expect Allen's numbers to continue to rise.
3. Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins will be the lead dogs, but does Kody Walker's big spring game vault him into the discussion as a playmaker for the Hogs?
I mean, he'll be involved but I don't see him taking many carries away from Williams or Collins. He had a great spring game because Williams was kept out of contact this spring and Collins tweaked his ankle a couple weeks into camp. Walker's a 5th year senior who came in under Petrino and weathered all that madness, so everyone is rooting for him to do well, but I'd be surprised if he's not kept mostly for short yardage/goal line situations as long as Williams and Collins are healthy.
4. The defense has to replace a couple of big-time playmakers like Martell Spaight and Trey Flowers. Is that something of a concern?
That's the biggest question mark on the team. The team lost four draft picks on defense, which was the strength of the team for most of the season. I'm not so concerned about the defensive line or the secondary because Arkansas still has some good players there. The concern is at linebacker. Arkansas has really struggled to recruit quality linebackers in big numbers in recent years. Brooks Ellis is good but most everybody else is unproven. One or two true freshmen will likely have to play. Josh Harris is a 5'9" walk-on that the coaches have been really big on and seems like he'll play some. Best case scenario is he turns into another Olajubutu for us.
5. What are reasonable expectations for this team in Bret Bielema's third season. It seems like Arkansas is becoming something of a chic dark-horse pick in the SEC.
I won't go so far as to say the Hogs are a dark horse pick to win the division, but I am pretty confident that the program is at the point that they'll be able to compete with anybody. 7-9 wins seems to be the standard prediction. As usual, Arkansas doesn't have a ton of depth at most positions. The starters are pretty good across the board but at some spots there's not much behind them. If Arkansas can avoid the injury bug as much as possible, they'll be dangerous throughout the year.