HawgBeat's Latest Projected 2020 Depth Chart - Defense/Special Teams
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In less than two weeks, Arkansas will welcome No. 4 Georgia to Fayetteville to open what will surely be one of the most unique seasons in program history.
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has already forced the SEC to push back the start of the season a few weeks and switch to 10-game, conference-only schedules. It will likely throw a wrench into teams’ depth charts on a week-by-week basis, as well.
Sources have indicated the Razorbacks have already dealt with the effects of positive tests and subsequent quarantines through contact tracing during preseason camp.
The UA has asked media not to report which players are missing or which position groups are light in numbers during 15-minute viewing periods, but HawgBeat has noticed such things.
Head coach Sam Pittman even seemingly admitted the challenges of having players available this season when he told reporters that next week will be critical in sorting out the last few remaining position battles.
“it’s time to kind of lock in on positions and as long as we stay healthy and have all our kids at practice, we’ll be able to do that,” Pittman said. “If we for some reason don’t, it’ll still be a little bit of a work in progress.”
With guys missing at practice, it’s pretty difficult to piece together how Arkansas might line up on both sides of the ball for the first play against Georgia.
However, HawgBeat is giving it a shot. Here’s what we think the Razorbacks’ depth chart looks like on defense and special teams right now, based on limiting practice viewing, videos of practice shared by the UA and comments by players and coaches in interviews…
(To see Arkansas' offensive depth chart, click here.)
DT1: Jonathan Marshall / Marcus Miller -OR- Taurean Carter -OR- Enoch Jackson Jr.
DT2: Isaiah Nichols / Xavier Kelly
Based on comments by the coaches, this has perhaps been the most pleasantly surprising position on the team. Early on, Arkansas thought it might primarily use a three-man front, but now it is using a four-man front with two defensive tackles instead of one.
“To be honest with you, coming in, we thought we needed to run possibly another front,” Pittman said Thursday. “We have some big guys now, so maybe we can get into a four-man line a little bit more than an odd front.”
Marshall has gotten a lot of praise throughout camp and has held his starting job since being penciled in there after the end of last season. Many figured he’d start alongside Kelly, the graduate transfer from Clemson, but Nichols got snaps ahead of him Thursday. Couple that with the fact that Nichols was the first name out of defensive coordinator Barry Odom’s mouth when talking about playmakers during Friday’s kickoff luncheon and we are giving him the nod right now.
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