Arkansas football: Stock Report after Week 4
While it would have liked to walk away with a win, Arkansas put together a strong performance against LSU that should leave fans encouraged.
Arkansas hung around with LSU and was one drive away from either forcing overtime or winning the game, but a veteran performance from Tigers’ quarterback Jayden Daniels led LSU to a game-winning field goal in the final seconds.
It was an all around solid performance, just missing a win. If Arkansas can hang with the Tigers, it won’t be surprising to see the Razorbacks rack up some big wins later this season.
Let’s take a look at how Arkansas performed against LSU.
Player of the Week: KJ Jefferson
If Arkansas wanted to keep things close, the Razorbacks needed a veteran performance from their quarterback.
That’s exactly what they got from KJ Jefferson.
After a slow offensive start from both teams, Jefferson kept Arkansas in the game during a shootout with the Tigers and finished the game with 289 yards and 3 touchdowns. He also used his legs to escape pressure, picking up 48 yards on the ground.
Performances like Saturday’s will need to become a regular occurrence for Jefferson if the Razorbacks want to continue competing with top teams in the SEC.
Freshman of the Week: Luke Hasz
Jefferson’s favorite target on the night was freshman tight end Luke Hasz. His big frame made him a problem for LSU’s defense all night and it resulted in a big game.
Hasz had a career-high 116 yards to go along with 2 touchdowns on the game. Both of Hasz’s touchdowns came in the 4th quarter in crucial moments, including one that tied the game with 5 minutes to play.
Hasz has a bright future ahead of him with Arkansas, and Saturday was just a glimpse of how he can impact the offense.
Biggest surprise: Arkansas’ bounce back
Arkansas took a crushing loss at BYU last week and it seemed like a blowout loss to the Tigers was inevitable.
But instead, the Razorbacks managed to put the loss behind them and showed up ready to play. It was an encouraging sight for Arkansas fans, even if the Razorbacks didn’t pull out a win.
Having a short-term memory is important in college football, and Arkansas’ ability to bounce back from the BYU loss and contend with a top team in the SEC was impressive.
Biggest concern: Pass Defense
LSU’s offense was stagnant in the first half, but as soon as Jayden Daniels started firing downfield the Tigers’ offense was in motion.
LSU had its way with Arkansas’ pass defense and scored on every drive of the second half. The Razorbacks had no answer downfield and it cost them the game.
Arkansas will need to clean things up in that regard if it wants to win some big games this season.
Developing trend: Jefferson’s turnover troubles
KJ Jefferson had a pair of interceptions against the Tigers on Saturday after having one against BYU. Those interceptions could’ve been the difference in both games, which came down to a touchdown or less.
These interceptions are a somewhat rare occurrence for the senior quarterback. Last season, Jefferson had just 5 all season, and he’s already up to 3 this year.
Perhaps Jefferson is working through some early season nerves and will get locked in as the season goes on, but giving away the ball one or more times a game can’t happen consistently in the future.
Key Stat: 24 second-half points
Arkansas’ defense stood strong in the first half, but ended up giving up 24 points in the second half, including a pair of touchdowns in the third quarter, where the Razorbacks posted just 3 points.
While their offense was able to keep them in the game, the Razorbacks defense needs to avoid scoring runs like this moving forward.
First impression on Texas A&M game
Arkansas was close to getting a signature win on Saturday over LSU. It ultimately fell short, but now the Razorbacks have a chance to take down a Texas A&M team that is coming off a dominant win over Auburn.
Despite the loss to LSU, Arkansas proved it can hang with a top team in the SEC, so there is no reason why the Razorbacks can’t beat Texas A&M, especially playing at home.
What will Arkansas need to win it? An offensive performance like it had in the second half of Saturday’s game combined with the defensive performance it had in the first half of Saturday’s game.
It won’t be easy, but if Arkansas can take down the Aggies, the Razorbacks will be in great position.