Be careful. K.J. Jefferson will sneak up on you.

The Arkansas quarterback has some wondering just how improved the Razorbacks’ passing game can be this season. Arkansas is known widely as a power-football team that runs the ball first, especially for those with a few decades of football under their belts. Images of the Wing-T arise when Arkansas is mentioned. That won’t work in the modern era of football. Jefferson is hoping to change that.

The sophomore quarterback will lead Arkansas in a tradition-laden matchup as it hosts No. 15 Texas at 7 p.m. EST today. One would think the Razorbacks are overmatched. Jefferson’s play will be key. He completed 12-of-21 passes for only 128 yards last week in a 38-17 win over Rice. He’ll likely need to throw for more than that to beat the Longhorns. Running from the pocket won’t cure the passing ills.

Here are 5 things to know about Jefferson:

Arkansas coaches have his back

The Razorbacks are led by head coach Sam Pittman. I’m sure you’ve heard the name. He’s widely thought of as one of the best offensive line coaches in the country. That would seem to scream that Pittman is a run-first coach. We’ll see.

Pittman said last week that he wants the passing attack to improve greatly – and fast. That had better be the case moving on. Throwing for just 128 yards is a good way to get beat in this era of pass-happy offenses.

Arkansas may never be fun-and-gun but balance is attainable with Jefferson. It’s easy to point to 128 yards passing and question if the Razorbacks can throw the ball this season but there’s more to it than that. If Arkansas can run the ball well, that can help protect Jefferson and set him up for some play-action shots downfield.

Jefferson can run

Every Arkansas fan knows this, but there may still be some SEC fans who aren’t quite as aware. Jefferson ran for 89 yards and two rushing touchdowns last week. That productivity was key in the win. Jefferson averaged almost 10 yards per rush last week. The downside is that Jefferson may hold onto the ball a bit too long at times. He was also sacked twice in the season opener against Rice.

Jefferson will continue to find that balance. When he does so is important. Jefferson, who also threw an interception last week, must continue to improve and avoid costly mistakes. Efficiency is the key today and throughout the season.

Kendal Briles will be key

Arkansas’ offensive coordinator has had a successful career as an offensive assistant. The 38-year-old has a new challenge with Jefferson. Briles, who has been accused of being a bit too aggressive as a play caller, must continue to identify Jefferson’s strengths in the passing game. It’s not all on Jefferson to make sure he’s efficient. Briles is responsible for that as well.

Briles has to recognize the limitations that Arkansas’ offense has this week and beyond. Aggressive can be good but Briles has to understand that that sort of play calling can also create big plays for opposing defenses.

Jefferson is a 3-year starter

Well, sort of.

Jefferson has started at least one game in the previous two seasons. That’s not a ton of snaps but it’s enough playing time to help him feel comfortable against quality opponents. Jefferson made his first start in 2019 as a freshman at LSU. That’s no easy place to play. Yet, Jefferson was 7-of-14 for 105 passing yards in Baton Rouge. If the Bayou doesn’t shake you, most nothing else can.

Jefferson is big

Jefferson is listed by Arkansas’ athletic department as 6-foot-3 and 245 pounds. That’s a solid load. Jefferson’s size can help him when he runs the ball and when he tries to avoid sacks in the pocket. The key – once again – is that Jefferson must be efficient and avoid those mistakes.