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 three times.
Burks impresses in 2 quarters
Arkansas receiver Treylon Burks catches a touchdown pass during a game against UAPB on Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021, in Little Rock.
LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas Razorbacks receiver Treylon Burks was the beneficiary of two potential touchdown passes teammate Warren Thompson couldn’t haul in during the first half of Saturday’s game against the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
Burks scored three touchdowns — including two on passes from KJ Jefferson — in the University of Arkansas’ 45-3 victory over the Golden Lions at War Memorial Stadium.
UAPB cornerback Tyquan Fleming was credited with breaking up Jefferson’s pass in the end zone intended for Thompson. It could have been a tough catch, but Thompson did get his outstretched hands on it before it fell incomplete.
Jefferson then connected with Burks for an 18-yard touchdown pass to put the Razorbacks ahead 17-0 with 8:51 left first quarter.
In the second quarter, a wide-open Thompson dropped a pass from Jefferson at the UAPB 20 that definitely would have been a first down. With so much running room, Thompson might have scored.
Facing fourth and 4 from the UAPB 39, Jefferson and Burks connected on another touchdown pass to push Arkansas’ lead to 45-0 with a minute left before halftime.
“Burks, KJ and the O-line bailed us out,” Razorbacks Coach Sam Pittman said. “Certainly we liked our matchup out there with 84 [Thompson], we just couldn’t come down with the ball.
“I think it was really big to get those two touchdowns right there.”
Burks’ first touchdown catch came on a slant route when the Razorbacks picked up a blitz. He beat man-to-man coverage on his second touchdown reception.
“I knew he was going to run by the guy,” Jefferson said of his second touchdown pass to Burks. “He was playing hard inside. I knew to just put the ball up and let him go make a play.”
Burks’ first touchdown came on a 49-run on a jet sweep when he got the ball from Jefferson.
“Coach [Kendal] Briles called a play, KJ executed it, called me in motion,” Burks said. “The O-line blocked. There were really good blocks on the outside from Warren Thompson and Hudson Henry. They gave me a lane, and I just hit it.”
Jefferson said the Razorbacks had been repping the play all week in practice.
“I’ve been handing the ball off to [Burks],” Jefferson said. “Sometimes I had to stop handing it to him because he wanted it so much, I tried to let the running back get a feel for it.
“When Coach Briles called it, he just told me to just read it and if I liked it outside, liked space, just try to get Treylon in space.
“He’s a freakish player in space, so when we snapped the ball, I gave it to him, turned around and looked and saw him hit the lane and it was over from there.”
Burks said he didn’t realize it was his first rushing touchdown as Razorback.
“I was just trying to score,” he said.
Burks, a junior from Warren, had four receptions for 89 yards. He has career totals of 122 catches for 2,012 yards and 14 touchdowns at Arkansas.
“It’s a great accomplishment,” Pittman said of Burks becoming the ninth Razorback with more than 2,000 receiving yards. “He’s a great player, and he’s not done yet.
“He’s still got the rest of this year, and the bottom line is we’ll look at where the NFL tells us that he’s going to be drafted. Then I’ll sit down with him and his family and we’ll all figure it out.
“But he still has hopefully five games left for us before that decision ever has to be made. I’ve talked to him before and said, ‘If you want to leave and go to the NFL, no talking is going to help you, it’s your play on the field.’
“He understands that. He’s a wonderful kid.”
Burks said he’s focused on Arkansas, not his NFL future.
“Really, I want to play for Arkansas, and that’s who I’m playing for right now,” he said “The NFL will come later and I’ll worry about that when that time comes.”
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