Arkansas prepares for Saturday’s big game

Razorback sophomore running back Raheim Sanders (#5) from Rockledge, FL looks for a hole to hit against Texas A&M Saturday night at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX.

By Otis Kirk

FAYETTEVILLE — No. 19 Arkansas is still preparing for its big game against No. 2 Alabama this Saturday.

Part of the talk following Tuesday’s practice still centered on quarterback KJ Jefferson’s fumble against Texas A&M when he jumped from the three and fumbled. The fumble resulted in a 98-yard touchdown for the Aggies.

Running back Rocket Sanders and tight end Trey Knox were the two offensive players made available to the media. Sanders gave his opinion on how Jefferson has bounced back this week.

“Yeah, with that, I feel like he’s the type of guy he’ll get over things fast, just as in the game where he fumbled and I fumbled,” Sanders said. “He actually helped me out with my fumble, after my fumble. I was down and I didn’t expect me to fumble close by the end zone, so he helped me out. So I feel like this week right here, he’s on one this week, just with practice and taking everything to the next level and making sure just not himself with ball security, but the running backs and everybody else on the offensive side of the ball.”

Knox also had an opinion on how Jefferson has bounced back this week.

“I mean, the football is a funny shaped ball and it rolls very weirdly sometimes and stuff happens,” Knox said. “You just have to let it go. KJ does a really good job of letting things go and playing the next play. I mean, he wasn’t too down, he wasn’t too high. Just very even-keel and you could tell by his performance, he knew he had to get it back and he had to put the team on his back and help us try to win the game last week. But he’s flushed it and he knows he didn’t play his best game on Saturday and he’s going out there this week to play his best game.”

Spreading Ball Around

Arkansas has a lot of weapons on offense and trying to get everyone enough touches can be tricky. The Hogs have had four running backs get carries and nine different players have caught passes. Jefferson is the second leading rusher on the team and three wide receivers have also carried the ball on reverses. Knox talked about how the offensive coordinator, Kendal Briles, has several options to choose from.

“I mean, we have a lot of talent, man,” Knox said. “Every week it’s just something different. The game plan revolves around whether we can run the ball, maybe this is a running game and we have to stuff it down their throat, or maybe the next week we have to win through the air. I mean, we have weapons everywhere. Sometimes it gets hard to feed that many horses, man. Like, it’s just a lot of people. We have the best running back room in the country, one of the best receiver rooms in the country, the best tight end room in the country. I mean, we can’t have everything best in the country and be able to get everybody the ball. So we just have to find small victories in just helping the team out any way that we can and just playing hard and physical every chance we get.”

Jefferson has completed 67 of 97 passes for 941 yards, eight touchdowns and only one interception. He also has 64 carries for 274 yards and four touchdowns. Sanders leads the team in rushing with 83 carries for 508 yards and three touchdowns. He also has caught eight passes for 117 yards and a touchdown.

AJ Green is third on the team in rushing with 23 carries for 99 yards and a touchdown. Rashod Dubinion has carried 14 times for 54 yards and a touchdown. Dominique Johnson, who played in his first game on Saturday at Arlington, has five rushes for 32 yards.

Jadon Haselwood leads the team with 18 receptions for 214 yards and two touchdowns. Matt Landers has 15 catches for 230 yards. Knox has caught 11 passes for 118 yards and two touchdowns. Warren Thompson is next with eight grabs for 122 yards and two touchdowns. Ketron Jackson has three catches for 103 yards and a touchdown.

Arkansas and Alabama will kickoff at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday in Razorback Stadium. The game will be televised on CBS.

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