No, I’m not talking about what goes on in Bobby Petrino’s head.
I’m referring to, instead, the fairly widespread belief that Arkansas should be considered a serious SEC title contender even though it’s never been what you might call an élite defensive team (last year, Arkansas finished ninth in the conference in total defense) and is breaking in a new defensive coordinator.
Take, for example, this piece, which doesn’t even bother to consider Arkansas’ defense, unlike the other three contenders it mentions (and would also be the case for South Carolina, which is omitted for some reason). Did the rules about winning the SEC with defense change, or is the Hogs’ offense expected to be that good? I doubt the former is the case and before somebody says “Auburn 2010″, keep in mind that team averaged more than a yard per play better that last year’s Arkansas’ offense did.
Alabama and LSU waxed Arkansas last year and even though they’re both home opponents for the Hogs this time, unless John L. Smith is about to unleash a much improved defense on the SEC, I don’t see his team’s chances to win the West improving. Obviously, other people’s mileage varies.