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Bielema: Hogs need new kicker

By: Bob Holt
Published: Sunday, September 10, 2017
Arkansas kicker Cole Hedlund (9) attempts a field goal during the fourth quarter of a game against TCU on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, in Fayetteville. Hedlund missed the 20-yard attempt.
Photo by J.T. Wampler
Arkansas kicker Cole Hedlund (9) attempts a field goal during the fourth quarter of a game against TCU on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, in Fayetteville. Hedlund missed the 20-yard attempt.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Don't look for Cole Hedlund to attempt any more field goals for the Arkansas Razorbacks.

Coach Bret Bielema said he's seen enough of Hedlund -- a redshirt junior who has struggled with his consistency since first winning the job in 2015 -- after TCU beat the Razorbacks 28-7 on Saturday.

Hedlund missed field goal attempts from 23 and 20 yards before the Horned Frogs pulled away with two touchdowns in the final 2:18.

Hedlund was wide left on a 23-yard attempt from the left hash mark in the second quarter that would have given the Razorbacks a 10-7 lead.

Two plays into the fourth quarter Hedlund's 20-yard attempt from the middle of the field hit the left upright and bounced away, keeping TCU's lead at 14-7.

"The two missed field goals were just embarrassing," Bielema said. "We'll go for it every time, or we have to find a new kicker. I'm done with this."

Hedlund had a good training camp, according to Bielema, but he came into this season on shaky ground considering he was a combined 14 of 22 on field goal attempts the previous two years.

Hedlund lost his job to Adam McFain -- a senior -- after five games last season when he was 5 of 7 on field goal tries, but he missed a 22-yard attempt in Arkansas' 41-38 victory at TCU in two overtimes. After Hedlund missed a 44-yard attempt against Alcorn State, McFain took over and hit 8 of 10 field goal tries.

"What you see in practice is what you believe is going to happen," Bielema said of Hedlund winning back his job. "We have a kicker that was over 95 percent all the way through fall camp and the first two weeks of the season, and then to go out and miss two kicks. Especially the second one ..."

Bielema decided to have Hedlund attempt a field goal rather than go for a touchdown on fourth and goal from the TCU 2.

"The reason I wanted to go for it was that it was right in the middle of the field," Bielema said. "It's basically a PAT, and it was perfect protection and perfect snap.

"It's inexcusable. So we've got to find the other option in that regard because we're not going to go down that path again. So that we'll move forward on."

Two walk-ons -- freshman Blake Mazza and sophomore Connor Limpert -- will compete to be the place-kicker when Arkansas plays Texas A&M on Sept. 23 after an open date.

Limpert is handling kickoffs for the second consecutive season, but he never has tried a field goal in a game.

One thing Hedlund has done well is kick extra points. He's 93 of 93, including 8 of 8 this season. He was 7 of 7 last week against Florida A&M, but he didn't attempt a field goal.

Slash by Nance

After University of Arkansas, Fayetteville junior wide receiver Jonathan Nance, a transfer from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, scored his first touchdown for the Razorbacks on a 49-yard pass play from Austin Allen, he made a throat slash gesture that was evident on TV replays.

Fortunately for Nance and the Razorbacks, it wasn't seen by the officials or else it would have resulted in a 15-yard penalty applied to the kickoff.

"The official came over to me and said, 'Hey, I couldn't see what he was doing, but he did something,' " Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema said. "When I went over to [Nance], he said something about brushing the shoulders off.

"He was emphatic it wasn't a throat slash. Obviously, no room here for any type of hand gesture. Just hand the ball to the official."

TCU quarterback Kenny Hill was penalized against Arkansas last season when he made a throat slash gesture after scoring a touchdown.

Chase no factor

It was a tough second game for Arkansas freshman tailback Chase Hayden after he rushed 14 times for 120 yards in the Razorbacks' 49-7 victory over Florida A&M.

TCU held Hayden to 1 yard on 2 carries on Arkansas' third series. He didn't play the rest of the game.

Cornelius on punts

Razorbacks senior receiver Jared Cornelius was back returning punts Saturday after Henre Toliver handled those duties against Florida A&M.

Cornelius, the team's primary punt returner the previous two seasons, missed most of training camp because of a back injury and played sparingly last week.

Toliver and Cornelius have both fielded punts the first two games, but neither has a return.

More than half

The No. 23 Horned Frogs were the 27th nationally ranked opponent Bret Bielema has faced in his 53 games as Arkansas' coach.

The Razorbacks are 7-20 against ranked teams in those games, including 6-18 against SEC teams and 1-2 against nonconference teams. They split two games against TCU and lost to Virginia Tech in the Belk Bowl to end last season.

For starters

Arkansas true freshman cornerback Kamren Curl made his first start Saturday. Curl replaced junior Ryan Pulley, who suffered a torn pectoral muscle against Florida A&M and underwent season-ending surgery.

Jordan Jones, a Razorbacks redshirt freshman wide receiver, also made his first start.

Honorees

Nine former Razorbacks were recognized on the field at halftime after being inducted into the UA Sports Hall of Honor on Friday night.

The honorees were Madre Hill, Ken Hamlin, Bo Busby and Louis Campbell in football; Troy Eklund in baseball; Amy Wright in basketball; Jack O'Keefe in golf; Chin Bee Khoo in tennis; and Melvin Lister in track and field.

Captain Hatfield

Ken Hatfield -- a star defensive back and punt returner on the Razorbacks' 11-0 team in 1964 that shared the national championship with Alabama, and who led Arkansas to a 55-17-1 record as head coach from 1984-1989 -- served as UA's honorary team captain.

Hatfield spoke to the Razorbacks after Thursday's practice at the request of Coach Bret Bielema.

Hometown hero

Army Maj. Thomas "Wade" January, an Arkansas graduate, was honored for being a hometown hero and introduced to the crowd during the first half.

TCU series

Arkansas is now 44-24-2 all-time against TCU -- the Razorbacks' former Southwest Conference rival -- including 18-8-1 in Fayetteville.

The teams' last meeting in Fayetteville prior to Saturday was in 1988 when the Razorbacks won 53-10.

Arkansas won 22 consecutive games against TCU from 1959-1980.

In the house

Arkansas hosted about 45 prospects on official and unofficial visits Saturday afternoon for the TCU game at Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Here are some of the notable prospects who attended the game:

OFFICIAL:

LB Bumper Pool, 6-2, 216, 4.79 Lucas (Texas) Lovejoy

Hog commit with plans to enroll in Jan.

UNOFFICIAL:

TE Grayson Boomer, 6-6, 230, Collinsville, Okla.

ESPN’s No. 118 overall prospect for 2019 class

DE Collin Clay, 6-4, 237, Oklahoma City, Putnam City

2019 prospect with offers from Okla. St., Iowa State, SMU and others

TE Hudson Henry, 6-5, 230, Pulaski Academy

Younger brother of former Hog Hunter Henry, ESPN’s No. 2 TE for 2019 class

WR Jadon Jackson, 6-1, 170, Bentonville West High School

Hogs offered this junior in April. Has recorded 10.74 in 100 meters

OL Luke Jones, 6-5, 290, Pulaski Academy

Razorback commit. Father is 6-8 and played basketball at OBU

Ath. Sean Michael-Flanagan, 6-1, 190, 4.47 Charleston

Hog commit that could play safety or receiver in college

— Richard Davenport

Sports on 09/10/2017

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