Arkansas can overcome injury to RB Williams
With four of Arkansas’ five starting offensive linemen returning from last season’s 24th-ranked rushing offense, senior running back Jonathan Williams was poised to put together a big 2015 season. That was before the news came out Monday that Williams will have to undergo foot surgery that is expected to keep him out the entire season (earlier reports indicated he could return halfway through the season).
Williams showcased a running style last year that made him one of the most difficult players to tackle in college football. He was able to force one missed tackle for every 3.2 rushing attempts, generating a 101.9 elusive rating — the eighth-highest total in the nation.
Williams did struggle in pass protection, allowing one QB pressure every 11.2 blocking assignments. But that’s one area in which his replacement, Alex Collins, figures to be an upgrade.
Collins actually generated the 10th-best returning pass-blocking efficiency in the nation (98.0). He wasn’t as difficult to tackle as Williams was last year (his elusive rating didn’t come close to matching that of Williams), but he was a bigger home-run threat, gaining 421 of his 1,098 rushing yards on 15-plus-yard runs.
Collins has the potential to produce a breakout season in 2015, even though clearly the team would be in better shape with both Collins and Williams available to carry the load.