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Team Report - ARKANSAS

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INSIDE SLANT

Arkansas set a program record-long losing streak in finishing the season with nine consecutive losses and went winless in conference play for the first time since 1942, when the Razorbacks were 0-6 in the old Southwest Conference for a second consecutive year.

Thus negative numbers far outweigh positives for the 3-9, 0-8 SEC, team.

The Hogs scored at an 20.7 points-a-game clip, their lowest since 1997 in Danny Ford's final season as coach.

They gave up 25 touchdown passes, a school record.

They ended up completing just 49.8 percent of their passes, their lowest figure in over a decade.

And they were outscored 194-117 from the third quarter on, including overtime, and 72-35 in the fourth quarter.

But if they can overcome the mental aspects of such negatives, and their play in their season-ending loss at LSU indicates they just might, better things await in 2014 in coach Bret Bielema's second year.

Though there are some key losses like center Travis Swanson and tackle David Hurd on offense and end Chris Smith on defense, a pretty good nucleus returns.

The Hogs should be strong at running back where Korliss Marshall looks to join Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams, who combined to rush for over 1,900 yards, in the rotation.

Brandon Allen should be more polished at quarterback after taking some hard knocks early in his sophomore season. He finished with some of his better performances over the last three games.

Defensively, Bielema faces some rebuilding, but freshmen like tackle Darius Philon, linebacker Brooks Ellis, cornerback D.J. Dean, who all started in the finale, are a good place to start.

The Razorbacks aren't likely to jump from last to first in the Western Division like Auburn did from 2012 to 2013, but better things -- and more wins -- should be coming.

NOTES, QUOTES

GAME OF THE YEAR: LSU 31, Arkansas 27. The Razorbacks were a decided underdog against the 17th-ranked Tigers, but were in position to pull off the upset until fading in the fourth quarter. It wasn't just the 99-yard drive the defense gave up and the breakdown that allowed an LSU receiver to get wide open for a 49-yard touchdown pass. The Hogs had problems offensively as well, gaining only 24 yards and controlling the ball less than five of the final 15 minutes, giving LSU time for its winning drive. Still, their effort showed the Razorbacks had not given up on the season despite going winless since September.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR: C Travis Swanson -- His name won't pop up in any statistics, but there's no doubt his leadership up front was invaluable to the Razorbacks' success running the football and protecting the passer. The Hogs averaged over 200 yards a game rushing and gave up only eight sacks. Coach Bret Bielema raved about Swanson before the season began and ended it predicting the senior would be no less than a second-round pick in the NFL draft.

FAST FORWARD: The Razorbacks are going to have some key holes to fill at center and tackle on offense and on defense, where they lose five starters. They lose a strong pass rusher in DE Chris Smith, but indications are that DE Trey Flowers will return for his senior season. It was encouraging to see QB Brandon Allen, who completed less than 50 percent of his passes for the season, finish by going 47-of-78 (60.3 percent) passing over the last three games.

RECRUITING TRAIL: Arkansas has about 18 commitments, most of them three-star prospects. Scout.com rates the class overall No. 31, but that is only 12th in the SEC behind even Kentucky (No. 11) and Vanderbilt (No. 28). Rivals.com also rates the class 12th in the SEC but No. 34 nationally.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "The only thing I asked them to do is take what you learned here and take it home with you. Don't leave it here in Baton Rouge or we'll never overcome where we are at right now." -- Coach Bret Bielema, on the need for the Razorbacks to build on the performance in the season finale at LSU.?

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

PLAYERS TO WATCH IN 2014:

QB Brandon Allen -- Allen had accuracy issues throughout the year but finished on a high note (60.3 percent completion over the last three games). There is no questioning his heart as he played through various injuries, but he needs to continue to build on his game in the spring.

RB Alex Collins -- Collins lived up to his billing as Arkansas' top recruit by topping the 100-yard mark in each of his first three games. He finished the season with 1,026 yards rushing.

RB Jonathan Williams -- Williams made it a two-back tandem for the Razorbacks in the backfield in 2013. He finished with an even 900 yards rushing.

RB Korliss Marshall -- The Hogs' talent runneth over in the backfield. Marshall rushed for just 146 yards in eight games but was a bigger factor in the return game, averaging over 22 yards on runbacks with a long of 87.

DE Trey Flowers -- Flowers missed one game to injury but finished with 44 tackles, including a team-high 13.5 for losses. He was second to senior DE Chris Smith in sacks with 5.0 to Smith's 8.5.

PRO PROSPECTS as ranked by NFLDRAFTSCOUT.com

C Travis Swanson (31st overall, No. 1 center) -- Swanson (6-5, 315) is a durable lineman (50 career starts) considered an excellent pass protector, which was vital to Arkansas' success in 2010 and 2011, his first two seasons. Draftscout also notes he has the athleticism to pull in the running game and is effective against run defenders.

DE Chris Smith (64th overall, No. 7 defensive end) -- An excellent pass rusher, Smith (6-3, 270) finished the regular season with 8.5 sacks, good for a tie for 31st among FBS defenders. Draftscout rates him a potential second-round pick going into the Combine.

PK Zach Hocker (540th overall, No. kicker) -- Hocker is the most accurate kicker in school history and also has a strong leg, making three of four attempts from over 50 yards this season. He likely will get an opportunity as a free agent.

ROSTER REPORT

--C Travis Swanson is only the second Razorback to start 50 games (LB Jerry Franklin, 2008-11) in his career since 1994 when such records are available.

--RB Alex Collins became the second Arkansas freshman and the 10th true freshman in SEC history to rush for 1,000 yards when he finished with 1,026.

--DE Trey Flowers moved into a tie for 11th on the all-time tackles-for-loss list for Arkansas after getting one at LSU to raise his total to 32. That's tied with DE Dan Hampton (1975-78).

--PK Zach Hocker, a senior, kicked two field goals against LSU to give him 61 for his career, a school record. Todd Wright had the previous mark of 60. Hocker also finished with a field goal percentage record of 77.2 percent (61-of-79), topping Wright's 75.9 mark.

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