Jeff's SEC Journey - Hog Country

Can you guess which Southeastern Conference team has the most returning starters? Nope, it's not Auburn. It's Arkansas.

The Razorbacks have nine players returning on offense and eight on defense, plus a kicker. This from a team that won the SEC West last year.

One of the few positions where the Hogs have to replace a starter is running back, where Fred Talley took his 1,000 yards to the National Football League, paving the way for Cedric Cobbs to finally produce the season Arkansas fans have been waiting for.

A 5th-year senior, Cobbs showed flashes of greatness way back in '99, but he's battled injuries and off-the-field problems ever since. "I definitely feel old. I feel more mature than I was that '99 year. I'm definitely looking forward to having a great year, a big year."

The best running back on the team is the quarterback - Matt Jones. He's 6'6", runs a 4.4 forty and plays two positions. He both throws the passes and catches them. But Coach Houston Nutt is not so sure Jones will stay at quarterback. "What people are doing is they're just coming up and playing 9 and 10-man fronts, forcing him to beat them with his arm, and that's not his forte. But he's not quite moved to full-time receiver yet."

How much Jones plays receiver will depend on the Razorbacks finding someone else to play quarterback. Senior Ryan Sorahan will get the first chance.

Clearing the way for the Razorbacks, #73 big Shawn Andrews. 6-foot-5, 370 pounds. The first sophomore in Arkansas history to be a first team All-American last year. He's a top candidate for the Outland Trophy and the Lombardi Award, honors won in 1988 by Auburn's Tracy Rocker, Arkansas' defensive line coach. Rocker says there's a simple way for Andrews to win the Outland, "The way that he wins that award is Cedric Cobbs runs for 1,000 yards, he(Andrews) wins the award. That's the way it's done up front on that side of the ball."

Only two head coaches in the SEC have been at their schools longer than Arkansas' Houston Nutt. Fulmer at Tennessee and Sherrill at Mississippi State. During Nutt's five years at Arkansas, the Razorbacks have had the best record of any team in the SEC West. They're 29-5 at home during that span, and he's taken the Hogs to a bowl game all five years.

"Every Saturday you've got to buckle your chin strap and we've been fortunate to go to bowls. We've got to finish a little bit better. The one thing we haven't done is finish. We've only really won one bowl game," says Nutt.

Houston Nutt has built a solid program here. Carrying on the school's winning tradition established by greats like Broyles, Holtz and Hatfield. But you know how college football fans are - they always want more.

The Razorbacks were blown out by Georgia last year in the championship game, then lost a bowl game for the fourth time in Nutt's five years. Another lackluster finish, and you can imagine Athletic Director Frank Broyles telling Coach Nutt, "Houston, we have a problem."