What are former Hog Quarterbacks’ predictions for the 2013 Football Season?
We asked 11 former Razorbacks Quarterbacks from the past 60 years for their predictions for the 2013 football season. Here are their answers.
This time last year, John L. Smith was Arkansas’ head coach in name but there was little doubt the program’s true leader was senior quarterback Tyler Wilson. That feeling was confirmed in September, after a blowout loss to Alabama, when Wilson showed an authentic passion and emotional investment in the program that the perpetually distracted Smith simply couldn’t muster.
This summer, there’s no doubt who steers the ship. Non-interim head coach Bret Bielema is expected to return Arkansas to the same Top 10 firmament that seemed its destined long-term home before an April 2012 motorcycle crash. His ultimate goal: Winning the SEC title, and the ticket to the national final or semifinal that would mean.
How close Arkansas gets to these targets, and how quickly, still rests on its next crop of Razorback quarterbacks. But presumed starter Brandon Allen won’t have as much responsibility to move the ball in Bielema’s offense as his predecessors Wilson and Ryan Mallet. Look for the offensive linemen, tight ends and running backs to share more of the burden.
How well will it all work out? Especially in this inaugural season of the Bielema Era, when Arkansas faces a murderers’ row of opponents to start its conference schedule – Texas A&M, Florida, South Carolina, Alabama?
We’ve all asked ourselves this question. As have some of the best Razorback quarterbacks in UA history. Guys who have been on the side of the mountain, in so-called rebuilding years, and guys who have been to the mountaintop.
Here are 11 former Hog Quarterbacks Predictions the 2013 Razorbacks football season:
George Walker (1954-55, 1957)
Prediction: 5 wins, 7 losses
On Bielema: “He’s doing a good job so far of building bridges and doing the right things.”
“I think they’ll play hard. That’s what I’m looking for. And if they’ll play hard, there will be good days in the future.”
Don Christian (1955-57)
“I think Brandon [Allen’s] gonna do a fine job,” he said. He added that more will hinge of the team’s ability to tackle and block than a single quarterback’s arm. The offensive line should be better than last year, when Tyler Wilson was repeatedly pummeled. “Poor guy, he should have gotten a Purple Heart for what he went through.”
Fred Marshall (1962-64)
“I think [Bielema] brings to the SEC what Arkansas needs. If you’re going to play the Alabamas and LSUs, you’ve got to out-Alabama them. And that means you’ve got to play great defense and don’t make mistakes on offense. And I think that’s exactly what he did at Wisconsin, so I’m pretty excited about it.”
“We’re not gonna beat Alabama with a hurried-up offense that throws the ball 50 times … we’re gonna beat them on defense and not give up the ball on offense. Kind of like the 1964 [Arkansas] team. I remember that team. They went undefeated. They won the national championship. They had a quarterback who couldn’t throw the ball – you happen to be talking to him.”
Joe Ferguson (1970-72)
“It’s gonna be a tough road, especially with the competition we have. But if the players like what they’re doing and they play hard, we’ll do well… With [offensive coordinator Jim] Chaney, we may not be as conservative as people think.”
“I think we’ll match up with anybody. We’ll play them hard… Play solid, don’t turn the ball over. You just gotta play solid.”
Ron Calcagni (1975-78)
Bielema “has a winning formula. He’s been around some great coaches in his career.”
“He’s got a good blueprint. He knows what to do. He knows what to do and how to tweak his blueprint… He’ll be in the game and have an opportunity to win it in the fourth quarter because of his style of football.”
Kevin Scanlon (1978-79)
“My heart wants to pick more wins, but my head tells me Coach B needs some time to develop his style and get the right players in place. Add to that the lack of experience at key positions and that’s why I’ll go with 7.”
Bielema’s “style of play fits perfectly for the SEC, especially if you look at the balance approach and success that Alabama has had in this conference. Coach Bielema’s Wisconsin offense, especially with Russell Wilson and Montee Ball, was very balanced, very explosive and highly successful. We can win in the SEC with that. I think he has put together a remarkable coaching staff that reminds me of the staffs that Coach Broyles and Coach Holtz had at Arkansas.”
“I think with any coaching change, particularly one that involves a significant approach change as we are doing from a pass heavy offense to a more balance approach, will take some time to get fully established, including getting the right players on campus to make the approach work. But I also think successful coaches like Coaches Saban, Spurrier, and Holtz have shown that they can have an immediate impact and achieve success in rapid fashion, just by their style, their program, their approach and what they teach and demand. I believe Coach Bielema is in that mold and will have a successful and quick impact. It may take a year or two to fully succeed, but he will win, he can lead us to an SEC title and have a long, great career with us.” [via e-mail]
Quinn Grovey (1987-90)
“Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney has the ability to spread it out and throw. I think it’s a perfect marriage between Bielema and Cheney.”
“I think the biggest thing is everybody getting adjusted to the new coaches and the staff and playing really hard. I think you’ll see a team that’s really engaged and plays hard.”
Clint Stoerner (1996-99)
“Expect the unexpected. We’re heavily underrated across the board. Last year is still looming in people’s minds … but I think our players are better than that, our players are more talented than that … I see us being bowl-eligible, right in the middle of the pack in the West.”
Still, “I don’t think Coach Bielema is ready to match up with Alabama, LSU and Florida quite yet.”
Stoerner added that he expects Arkansas to beat Ole Miss, Mississippi State (“I think they’re highly overrated”) and Auburn.
Zak Clark (2000-01)
On Bielema and his ability to one day deliver an SEC title: “It appears he’s the best all-around coach we’ve had in terms of recruiting and coaching. He plays a style that is physical and will keep us in games, but seems as good off-the-field in recruiting as he is on it. It’s tough to predict an SEC championship–certainly since it’s never happened–but I think he gives Arkansas its best chance to win one. It will take a few years for him to upgrade the roster and recruit to his style, so a key will be for the fans to stay patient these first couple of years.
In 2013, “the key will be getting off to a good start. I know we’ve got a murderers’ row in the middle, and if we can make it through that stretch with some confidence we may surprise people late in the year.” [via e-mail]
Matt Jones (2001-04)
On Bielema adapting to the SEC: “When you look at his Wisconsin team, one thing they were was efficient. In the last three years, I think only one of his losses was by double-digits. That means you have to be disciplined… so he’s in every game. They play smart.”
On Arkansas this year: ”The cupboard’s not bare. Last year was crazy, but two years ago they were winning some games. If they get hot, anything could happen….”
Casey Dick (2005-08)
“Everybody up there seems happy. [Bielema] has their back and they have his back, so they’re gonna go out there and fight for him.”
“We played him in the Capital One Bowl … they [the Wisconsin team Bielema then coached] had a humongous offensive line. The other thing that was very evident was they were well coached, they had great fundamentals. The biggest thing was they had their own identity – so they knew they were gonna run the ball but they knew they were gonna pass efficiently when needed.”
P.S. – All QBs were asked for a prediction. Some gave one immediately or after being pressed, others declined or said they didn’t have one.
Demirel talks with former and current Arkansas players throughout the season. Follow him here.