Hog Calls:

Jefferson, Razorbacks still have plenty to play for

By: Nate Allen
Published: Monday, November 14, 2022
Arkansas quarterback KJ Jefferson runs onto the field prior to a game against LSU on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022, in Fayetteville.
( Hank Layton, NWA Democrat-Gazette )
Arkansas quarterback KJ Jefferson runs onto the field prior to a game against LSU on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022, in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE — Too bad it takes consecutive losses proving KJ Jefferson ranks among the historically impactful Arkansas quarterbacks.

It first showed two weeks ago. Off his game in shoulder pain with Arkansas trailing Liberty 21-5 into the fourth quarter, Jefferson somehow summoned 84- and 85-yard touchdown drives that he finished with passes to tight end Trey Knox.

Jefferson’s running for what would have been a game-tying two-point conversion fell just short, his knee ruled brought down just before he extended the ball beyond the goal line.

Naturally some second-guessed that Coach Sam Pittman should have inserted backup Malik Hornsby during Jefferson’s struggling three quarters.

Be careful what you wish for. Hornsby’s start never ignited in the 13-10 SEC loss to LSU at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

Noting Jefferson’s limited practice for the Liberty game because of clavicle and shoulder injuries, Pittman rolled the dice. He benched Jefferson entirely vs. LSU trying to refresh him for these final SEC games with Ole Miss on Saturday, and Nov. 25 at Missouri.

“He hadn’t practiced in two weeks much,” Pittman said. “And we decided the best thing for him would be to rest. Hopefully he’ll be ready Monday [for practice]. Ready for Ole Miss. It was either that and do the same thing with a guy who can’t practice, and we’re trying to get him healed up.”

Third-year senior Cade Fortin started and Hornsby relieved when Jefferson was too injured to play in the 40-17 loss Oct. 8 at Mississippi State.

Hornsby started and Fortin relieved against LSU. The reliever outperformed the starter both times. Neither netted victory.

Hornsby, among the fastest Razorbacks, and Fortin, a 40-yard TD pass to Matt Landers against LSU, have assets.

Neither can be expected measuring to Jefferson’s tangibles. The strong-armed, mobile 6-3, 242-pounder can run over or scramble around defenders for big runs, or buy time for big passes. Most importantly, neither should be expected to have Jefferson’s intangibles as a two-year captain and team leader in whom these Hogs believe absolutely.

Even with Jefferson, Arkansas needs entirely better blocking and running than mustered against LSU, which was led by linebacker Harold Perkins, who had 4 sacks and 2 forced fumbles among 8 tackles Saturday.

On the other hand, even an offensive guru like Ole Miss Coach Lane Kiffin must be grimly impressed with Arkansas defensive coordinator Barry Odom’s crew.

Including a second-half shutout against Liberty, Arkansas has yielded but one touchdown in six quarters.

Freshman Quincey McAdoo’s cornerback emergence moving corner Hudson Clark to middle safety stabilized a previously shaky secondary.

It took a front to back defensive effort thwarting LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels, run-pass nigh unstoppable in LSU successive victories over Ole Miss and Alabama.

Arkansas accomplished it.

Given even a semi-healthy Jefferson inspiring the offense, these 5-5 Hogs still have a season to salvage.


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