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Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Backs will be a big part of Hogs' passing game

By Chris Low
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

It's hard not to like Arkansas' corps of wide receivers.

I can promise you that quarterback Ryan Mallett does. But Mallett will have a lot more than just the wide receivers to lean on in the passing game this season.

It's a staple in a Bobby Petrino offense to get the running backs, H-backs and tight ends involved in the passing game. We know that tight end D.J. Williams is one of the best pass-catching tight ends in college football after pulling in 61 grabs last season.

But Williams told me last month that he anticipates moving around a little more this season with the hope of getting even more favorable matchups.

"Everybody's improved so much that I think it's going to be too dangerous to key on one player," Williams said. "We've got too many playmakers on the outside and too many guys who can do different things at running back for a defense to do that."

Senior running back Michael Smith caught 32 passes in 10 games last season. He'll again get plenty of chances on short dumps and screens, but so will the rest of his backfield cohorts.

Sophomore Dennis Johnson had eight catches in last Saturday's scrimmage, while true freshman Ronnie Wingo caught a touchdown pass. Sophomore De'Anthony Curtis and true freshman Knile Davis are also plenty capable as a pass-catchers.

The Hogs' running backs combined for 46 catches last season, but Smith had 32 of those.

I think you'll see it more spread out this season among several guys, and I also think you'll see that total number go up.

Maybe 60-plus catches for the Arkansas backs in 2009?