Don’t expect a bad game to define ’22 for KJ, Hogs


ESPN, which carries the game nationally, got a “SportsCenter” moment, Texas A&M scoring what’s now called a scoop-and-score touchdown – and Razorback Nation got a reality check just before midday. -time Saturday night.

Drop the ball to the ground and a good team, like Texas A&M, is sure to find it. And often with devastating results, like in Arkansas’ 23-21 Southeastern Conference loss to the Aggies.

KJ Jefferson, with his first big no-no in two years as Arkansas’ starting quarterback, had a killer turnover with the Razorbacks looking to go up 21-7 (presumably with a conversion made by Cam Little, which almost never fails; more on that later).

Three yards from the end zone, Jefferson tried to jump over the blocking linemen for the win. Modeled after former Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton, Jefferson was powered up and the ball snatched from his hands by linebacker Chris Russell.

Tyreek Chappell broke the other way with the ball but was quickly circled by running back Raheim Sanders near the 20. Demani Richardson, claiming bail, waved to the nearest taxi and drove the final 82 meters for a quick touchdown in six in the southwest. AT&T Stadium Classic

“I don’t know if it saved us, but it made winning a lot easier,” Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher said, his team beating nationally ranked Miami at home and Arkansas on a neutral site after an early Kyle Field loss. – Appalachian State season heart case.

The Aggies missed the ensuing conversion attempt, leaving Arkansas 14-13 at the break, but that boomerang scoreline hung over the rest of the game, sure to haunt Arkansas until it could do. an appropriate response.

Saturday in Fayetteville against Alabama (2:30 p.m. on Resort Channel 11) would be soon enough.

Losing coach Sam Pittman, his gutsy team now 1-1 in the Southeastern Conference and 3-1 overall, weighed the risk and reward aspects of Jefferson’s fumble.

“We can’t do this on the first down. If it was the fourth down, that’s a different story. Unfortunately, it just came out,” Pittman said. “He wanted to score, and it happened.”

Jefferson has won too many big games for Arkansas to wear goat horns for long. The Razorbacks had so much on their plate that it must have been disconcerting for it to slip past them.

* Finished a perfect September, and with it much of the goodwill accumulated by beating Cincinnati, SEC foes South Carolina and Missouri State coached by Bobby Petrino.

* Gone is the Armageddon-like buildup for what looked like one of Fayetteville’s biggest games since 1969 between Arkansas and Alabama, perhaps with an additional ESPN GameDay appearance. ESPN hasn’t taken its elite college team to the Ozarks since 2006. It’s also the last time Arkansas beat Alabama in football, the year before Nick Saban arrived in Tuscaloosa for to fix things as they had rarely been since the retirement of Paul William Bryant.

* Gone is the false sense of security that a home team (like Arkansas had been for three weeks) gets. Although both sides were well represented on Saturday, A&M had enough noisemakers present to disrupt things. That can’t be completely simulated in practice, even though Arkansas, for the first time since 2011, beat A&M at the same site last year.

* Also gone is the idea that Arkansas is living under a halo after seeing most of the rebounds go 9-4 last year. A 14-0 lead over the Aggies, with Jefferson throwing two touchdowns, may have chloroformed the Razorbacks. A second-quarter A&M score saw transfer quarterback Max Johnson come to life. But Arkansas moved the ball so neatly on the fateful run before halftime that it looked like it was about to regain control.

Then, like some guys in a Beatles song, Maxwell’s Silver Hammer fell on their heads.

Arkansas had a chance to win it late but Little, normally true in such moments the past two years, sent a field goal attempt 42 yards from the right post.

“It’s tough. Give A&M all the credit in the world; they fought back from 14,” Pittman said. “They had some big plays – and definitely a big fumble recovery.”

A moment in Razorback history should be fixed on your hog call psyche this week. Clint Stoerner’s 1998 Knoxville fumble against Tennessee is too gruesome to rehash in detail here. Remember, though, that Arkansas refunded the Vols the following year in Fayetteville, Stoerner passing to Anthony Lucas (now a coach at Pulaski Academy High School) for the difference in scorecard in a game, like that of the previous year, which ended 28-24.

Wear black armbands this week, if deemed appropriate. Don’t expect Jefferson’s UA career to be defined by errant play.

It’s college football, so in any world where Kansas is 4-0 and Texas is 2-2, anything can happen. Even if the next team is Alabama.

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