FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas got a complete game on Saturday night in front of a standing room only crowd taking a 40-21 victory over Texas in a game the Hogs never trailed or were really threatened.
It was a game that saw the offense rush for 333 yards and average 7.1 yards per carry. The defense shut Texas out in the first half and Arkansas was up 33-7 entering the fourth quarter and making take their foot off the gas a little at that point. The special teams saw Cam Little perfect on four field goals and linebacker Jake Yurachek block a Texas punt. Reid Bauer averaged 40 yards on two punts.
Quarterback KJ Jefferson was 14 of 19 passing for 138 yards with one interception while also rushing 10 times for 73 yards. Arkansas had 333 yards rushing with no running back getting a 100 and four scoring touchdowns. Trelon Smith led the team with 12 carries for 75 yards and a touchdown. True freshman AJ Green made his debut with seven carries for 67 yards and a touchdown. Fellow true freshman Rocket Sanders rushed eight times for 50 yards and a touchdown. Redshirt freshman Dominique Johnson had six carries for 44 yards and a touchdown. Sam Pittman obviously was pleased with how the team ran the football with Cody Kennedy’s offensive line opening holes.
“Isn’t that something,” Pittman said. “Coach Kennedy comes in on June the 4th or whatever it was. And we rush for 333 yards and average 7-plus yards a carry. He’s got some really hard working kids. They took a lot of heat in the past and will I’m sure some in the future. It’s part of the nature. But the way they played tonight, to rush for 333 on a good Texas squad was outstanding. Beaux Limmer’s a part of that. He’s played a lot of ball too. But we had all five starters back from last year and Beaux. They need credit. I don’t think they gave up a sack tonight either. They came to play and I’m really proud of them.”
Super senior linebacker Hayden Henry had 15 tackles and 2.5 for loss. He was obviously elated after the game.
“Lot of work, lot of work,” Henry said. “You could say all the way back to January we’ve been preparing for this moment. We really have. We had a great week of practice. A great game plan and coaches were pushing us. We knew what we needed to do to win this game. I feel like tonight we went out and did it. I couldn’t be more proud of our defense, our offense and special teams and how we played. We went out and played hard. Super excited, it was super awesome to experience that.”
Pittman was pleased with how his senior linebacker played considering last season he battled a shoulder injury much of the year.
” You know he’s kind of Bobby Bouche, I mean the guy from Water Boy,” Pittman said of Henry. “He kind of goes around and that’s kind of how he plays. Very aggressive, but I’ll tell you what, he had a really good camp. A really good camp. He’s playing like we thought. You know he had the shoulder’s healed up and he’s got some strength in there. Yeah, he had a great game.”
Pittman was actually pleased with how Barry Odom’s entire defense played from the start of the game.
“They were swarming and did a really good job,} Pittman said. “Our linebackers are really good players. You know Barry had the idea to go back to our 3-man front for the most part. He was multiple tonight but for the most part in a 3-man front going back from last year. We felt like we could stop the run that way. We had so much respect for Robinson and still do obviously.
“But that’s the way coach thought he could win the game on defense and our team bought into that and certainly the first half, well the entire game they played outstanding. Bu the first half they just set the tone completely for the game.”
Little is another true freshman. His field goals were 22, 24, 24 and 44. He was also perfect on all his point after touchdowns.
“I feel great,” Little said. “I feel like overall we played really. We came out there and before the game we knew we were going to beat Texas. The moment we stepped on that field we knew we were going to beat Texas. It gave me a lot of confidence going into the game because I know I’ve been practicing all fall camp. I had a really good fall camp. Had all the specialists behind my back. We had a little pep talk before the game. With the confidence around the team and me it just gave me that boost I needed. I was excited to go 4 for 4.”
Little looks like a different kicker this fall than he did in the spring when he struggled some. Pittman talked about what has made the difference.
“He wasn’t very good last spring,” Pittman said. “He’s very good now. He can even slide them in off the goal post now. I think it’s just confidence. You guys were here in the spring, and he wasn’t very good. Certainly, he started booming them after the summer when he was doing all the stuff out there on his own. The other thing is, I was the square-toed kicker, and Russell Bunch was the holder all the time. So, we didn’t have to change holders. I think there’s a big deal when you’re rotating holders to a kicker, and that’s what we were doing a little bit in the spring trying to find the right guy with him. Obviously, with Bauer we did because he’s on target right now and doing a great job.”
On the second play of Arkansas’ first possession in the third quarter, Jefferson threw an interception. Six plays later Texas scored to cut the lead to 16-7. However, on Arkansas’ very next possession Jefferson took the Hogs down the field six-play, 81-yard drive for a touchdown. He hit Tyson Morris for a big 45-yard gain on the drive.
“That was a big answer right there, and I was hoping he’d do exactly what he did,” Pittman said. “I thought he would. That’s a big deal because we could’ve have gone in the tank that series too, but we didn’t. We went right back down and scored a touchdown. It was a big, big deal.”
Arkansas, 2-0, will be at home on Saturday to host Georgia Southern at 3 p.m. and televised on the SEC Network.