The Arkansas Razorbacks are looking for a bounceback season in 2013 after stumbling in 2012. They have a new head coach in Bret Bielema who will bring his hard-nosed, physical style of play to both sides of the ball as he attempts to make the Razorbacks into an SEC contender. Helping his cause on defense next season will be senior defensive end Chris Smith who is poised to become a breakout star rushing the passer next fall.
Smith enjoyed a strong junior campaign, even as the team as a whole struggled. He led Arkansas with 9.5 sacks to go along with a team-high 13 tackles for loss and 12 quarterback hurries. His ability to get into the backfield routinely frustrated offensive tackles tasked with trying to block him and has sent his stock rising as he enters his senior season.
When combined with junior Trey Flowers, who had six sacks in 2012, Arkansas looks to have a potent 1-2 pass rush combination that they can unleash on quarterbacks next fall to help get their offense back onto the field. Using Smith to re-establish the line of scrimmage, particularly on the edge, in the offensive backfield will give the Arkansas defense a major advantage.
Last year, the Hogs gave up over 30 points per game and ranked No. 73 in total defense. That just won’t cut it in the rough and tumble SEC West and an improved pass rush from Smith will go a long way in closing the gap and get Arkansas into the race for the SEC crown. By season’s end, expect to hear Smith’s name often as one of the premier pass-rushers in college football.