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Christmas wish list for Arkansas fans

Christmas wish list for Arkansas fans

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The Christmas season is upon us and there’s a lot to ask for if you’re an Arkansas Razorbacks fan.

Sam Pittman and the football team are preparing for the Liberty Bowl, which will be played Wednesday against Kansas at Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium in Memphis. Of course, the fans want a win in this game, but there is a lot more to ask of this team.

Head coach Eric Musselman and the Hoop Hogs have dealt with a pair of injuries to Trevon Brazile and Nick Smith Jr., but the team has the talent to run the table in the NCAA Tournament once again.

Could this finally be the year Dave Van Horn gets the Diamond Hogs over the hump in the College World Series?

Here’s a breakdown of what Arkansas fans are likely to want as Christmas Day approaches:

A 10-win football season

It’s no secret that the football team’s 6-6 record this year fell short of expectations. After going 9-4 in his second season as a Head Hog, Pittman set the bar higher than it should have been in his third year.

After losing a lot of talent to the trade portal and the NFL Draft, his team still has a chance to make it seven wins with a win over the Jayhawks in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl. But let’s face it, not many fans are putting much stock in this game.

The Razorback faithful are already looking ahead to next season. It seems like every day the list changes in some way, but expectations will be high again in 2023.

Arkansas hasn’t had a season with double-digit wins since 2012, when Bobby Petrino led the Hogs to an 11-2 record and a Cotton Bowl victory over Kansas State.

With KJ Jefferson returning for his third year as a starter, the Razorbacks will look to build around him at the skill positions.

Defensively, the line should be solid, but there is a lot of work to be done at linebacker and in the secondary.

Football is king and the Razorbacks are the king of football in the state of Arkansas. Winning double-digit games in 2023 is probably near the top of most Arkansas fans’ Christmas wish lists.

– Mason Choate, Managing Editor

A Nick Smith Jr. healthy

Arkansas fans have an excellent basketball coach and a great basketball team. Under Eric Musselman, the Razorbacks have experienced a renewed level of success, dating back to the program’s heyday in the 1980s and 1990s.

Entering this season, Arkansas signed the nation’s No. 2 recruiting class, highlighted by three McDonald’s All-Americans: Anthony Black, Jordan Walsh and Nick Smith. The first two have played well so far this season, while Smith has been hampered by a knee injury.

The Razorbacks are already losing a star player in Trevon Brazile, who is out for the rest of the season with a torn ACL. Smith’s nagging knee injury has Arkansas fans asking, “Why us?” and say things like “We can’t have anything nice” or “This show is cursed”.

The program has its best basketball roster in decades, a true national championship contender, and they lose their sixth man for the year and haven’t had a healthy freshman star and projected lottery pick for more than four games .

Despite all that, Arkansas is 11-1 and ranked in the top ten nationally. The Razorbacks have continued to struggle without Brazile and Smith, but have yet to hit the hardest part of their schedule. SEC play is coming up and coming fast.

A healthy Smith would be the perfect Christmas present for Arkansas fans. His return would restore fans’ hopes for a national championship and allow the state to rally around one of the best basketball players to come out of the state in recent memory.

– Jackson Collier, basketball writer

Sign a top 5 recruiting class

In terms of Rivals’ recruiting rankings, Arkansas hasn’t signed a class higher than No. 16, which it did in 2009. They came close this year with No. 18, but what fans really want for Christmas is enter the classification. this top level in the top 5.

What it would look like, at least in 2023, would be a class dominated by four-star recruits and topped off with a few five-star guys. Right now, Miami holds that No. 5 spot, and the Hurricanes have three five-star recruits, 16 four-stars and five three-stat guys.

Perhaps the class of 2024 could be the one. The Hogs sat in the Top 10 for the first part of 2022, and if the team can maintain positive momentum throughout the year, that Christmas dream could become a reality this time next year, but there a lot of work. this will have to be done.

Let’s see how much he will prioritize recruiting new hires for Pittman.

– Daniel Fair, football selection analyst

A successful season for the football transfer portal

A transfer portal wish list is very simple for most Arkansas fans. Defense, defense and more defense. Of course, the offense needs help as well, but the defense should be the main focus going forward. That said:

1) Drew Sanders 2.0: You’d think Arkansas should have no problem landing a guy like this after the numbers Drew put up this season. The Hogs picked up USF transfer Antonio Grier as a signee on Thursday, but could still use more experience at the position.

2) John Ridgeway 2.0 – Arkansas desperately needs a nasty big in the middle. With guys transferring/graduating/declaring, this position is paramount.

3) The lockdown cornerback: Dwight McGlothern was a bright spot in a secondary that struggled. With Quincey McAdoo emerging late in the season, landing another blocking corner would completely change the script in 2023.

4) Speedy WR – Time to show the offense some love. Arkansas already landed a great WR in Andrew Armstrong. Landing a guy to really take the top off the defense and get over guys under center (Matt Landers type) would help explode this offense.

5) Lockdown Security – You could argue that this is first on the list. Safety play this season has not been great. Having a guy in your back who won’t be outplayed on every other play would be music to the fans’ ears.

6) Elite offensive tackle: The offensive line was hit or miss in 2022. They finished particularly poorly, giving up six sacks against Missouri. With left tackle Luke Jones not returning next season, landing a guy on the left side of the line to keep Jefferson safe would go a long way in keeping him healthy and ultimately taking this offense to the next level.

If Arkansas can land at least six transfers of that caliber, plus other role players and depth pieces, the Arkansas fan base can start believing in Santa again.

– Riley McFerran, Transfer Portal Contributor

A College World Series title

It’s not exactly a secret that Razorback Baseball fans are insatiable. Regular-season losses feel like the end of the world, and even a third-place finish last season wasn’t good enough after the team had to travel to the regional round for the first time since 2015.

While the speech over the course of the season gets tiresome, it’s understandable. Dave Van Horn has now made seven unsuccessful trips to the CWS as the Razorback skipper, and fans don’t need to be reminded how close the 2018 team was to the top. For a perennial contender, that’s not good enough, especially when two of his main rivals have claimed the last two titles.

While the 2023 pitching staff will almost certainly be in the upper echelon of the SEC, it’s hard to say how the batting order will stack up against opponents from the nation’s best league. The lineup will look very unfamiliar to those who haven’t been paying attention since June, but Van Horn threw enough darts at the board of the transfer portal that some will have to hit. As long as he’s on top, Arkansas will have a chance to win it all.

– Robert Stewart, writer

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