Bob Holt is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and a voter for the Heisman Trophy and AP Top 25 basketball poll. Holt has been awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year twice.
Limpert not getting in his kicks
Arkansas kicker Connor Limpert watches an extra-point attempt go through the uprights during a game against New Mexico State on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017, in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE -- Connor Limpert still is waiting to attempt his first field goal with the Arkansas Razorbacks.
Limpert has held the place-kicking job for two games, but he's been limited to hitting 11 of 11 extra-point attempts.
The opportunity to attempt a field goal didn't present itself in Texas A&M's 50-43 overtime victory against the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville last week, and Razorbacks Coach Bret Bielema chose to go for it on fourth down three times Saturday when his team beat New Mexico State 42-24 rather than attempt a field goal of less than 45 yards.
Bielema said his decision to go for it on the fourth downs was based on analytics, not because of a lack of confidence in Limpert, a sophomore walk-on who took over the job after Cole Hedlund missed from 20 and 23 yards against TCU.
"In the game, based on who we're playing and where we're at, we get an analytic report that takes the percentages of college football, but also what you produced this year, the range of your kicker and kind of gives you a formula to tell you whether or not it's a good decision to go for it," Bielema said. "Basically just play percentages, kind of like a Moneyball approach to fourth down."
The Razorbacks went 2 of 3 on fourth-down plays and finished two drives with touchdowns that pushed their lead to 42-17 early in the fourth quarter.
Austin Allen hit Cheyenne O'Grady for a 10-yard gain on fourth and 4 from the New Mexico State 26, setting up Allen's 3-yard touchdown pass to Jonathan Nance.
On Arkansas' next drive, Allen hit Nance for 7 yards on fourth and 1 from the New Mexico State 13 to set up Chase Hayden's 1-yard touchdown run.
Allen threw an incompletion on fourth and 4 from the New Mexico State 23 with 4:48 left in the fourth quarter.
"I think our kicker is good," Bielema said. "Connor has hit the ball really, really well, hit it good in practice. I just wanted to be aggressive with it today."
Arkansas junior wide receiver Jonathan Nance and freshman tailback Chase Hayden each made his first career start.
Nance, a junior transfer from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, started in placed of the injured Jared Cornelius.
Hayden -- the third true freshman to start for the Razorbacks this season, along with right guard Ty Clary and cornerback Kamren Curl -- played the first series at tailback after David Williams started last week against Texas A&M.
Arkansas sophomore receiver LaMichael Pettway didn't dress out.
"I removed Pettway from the program on Thursday until Sunday," Coach Bret Bielema said. "We'll have a conversation on Sunday.
"Just needed to get a couple of things straight for him. Nothing bad or anything. He didn't do anything wrong other than a little bit of academics, a little bit of being on time where he needed to be at the right time, the right place.
"The kid's a good kid, I like him, but he's got to learn to do it. So that took him out."
New Mexico State linebacker Terrill Hanks was ejected for targeting with 1:55 left in the first quarter.
Hanks blitzed off the edge untouched, and after quarterback Austin Allen got the ball away to Jordan Jones, Hanks lowered his helmet and hit Allen in the face mask.
The targeting call made on the field was upheld by video review.
The completion went for 32 yards, and with the extra 15 yards on the penalty the Razorbacks got a first down at the New Mexico State 21. Three plays later, Devwah Whaley scored from 3 yards out.
Pick for K-Rich
Arkansas senior defensive back Kevin Richardson made his second career interception when he picked off a pass by Tyler Rogers in the end zone after the Aggies had driven to the Razorbacks 15. The pass was tipped by linebacker Grant Morgan.
Richardson's other interception was against Mississippi State in 2015.
Sack for Agim
Razorbacks sophomore defensive end McTelvin Agim got his first sack of the season when he dropped Tyler Rogers for a 11-yard loss in the first quarter.
It was the seventh consecutive game that Agim had at least one tackle for lost yardage.
High for Whaley
Razorbacks sophomore tailback Devwah Whaley, playing off the bench, matched his career-high with 19 carries for 119 yards. Whaley also had 19 carries last season when he rushed for 112 yards at Mississippi State. His career high for yards is 135 against Alcorn State last season.
Junior Paul Ramirez didn't start, but he played much of the game at right tackle.
True freshman Ty Clary made his fourth start at right guard, but early in the game junior Johnny Gibson moved from tackle to guard with Ramirez going into the game.
In the fourth quarter, junior Zach Rogers also got some snaps at right guard with Gibson moving back to right tackle, and senior Jake Raulerson got some snaps at left guard for starter Hjalte Froholdt.
Munson, Young play
Linebacker Derrick Munson became the ninth true freshman to play for the Razorbacks this season when he was on special teams. Brendan Young, a sophomore walk-on defensive back who transferred from Ouachita Baptist University, also made his Razorbacks debut on special teams.
Arkansas improved to 6-0 against New Mexico State. In games prior to Saturday, the Razorbacks beat the Aggies 53-10 in 1977, 45-13 in 1985, 42-11 in 1986, 48-20 in 2003 and 68-13 in 2004.
Senior linebacker Dwayne Eugene carried the United States flag and junior defensive end Jake Hall carried the Arkansas flag when the Razorbacks ran onto the field.
Sports on 10/01/2017
Have a comment on this story? Join the discussion or start a new one on the Forums.