Arkansas’ Quarterback Situation Still Up in Air, Sam Pittman, Nick Saban Each Impressed With Feleipe Franks, KJ Jefferson

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Photo Courtesy: University of Arkansas Athletics

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas’ Sam Pittman and Alabama’s Nick Saban were on the SEC Teleconference Wednesday morning and each talked about the pair of Razorback quarterbacks.

Feleipe Franks started Arkansas’ first eight games then injured his ribs against LSU. KJ Jefferson started the Missouri game and had plenty of success just as Franks has all season. Pittman was asked about the health of Franks at this time and if the two will split time against Alabama?

“Well, Feleipe has practiced,” Pittman said. “We’re still working to see how he’s feeling. He’s done a nice job of practicing. He’s not 100 percent. We’ll continue obviously to practice today, tomorrow, and it’ll give him time to heal up a little bit more. Then we’ll make a decision game time on what we’re going to do at the quarterback position. Are we, is there a potential for us to play both of them? The answer would be yes, assuming that Feleipe can play. Obviously if Feleipe can’t play, then that answer would be no.”

Against Missouri, Jefferson completed 18 of 33 passes for 274 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed 13 times for 32 yards and one touchdown. Did that performance give Pittman more confidence to play Jefferson going forward?

“Well I had a lot of confidence in KJ going in, obviously, to the Missouri game because we had seen him practice with the 1’s the entire week,” Pittman said. “We’ve always had confidence in KJ. However, Feleipe was playing very well also. The decision is going to be made on Feleipe’s health and how he is and can he play in the game. If yes, he’s going to play. No, then KJ will play. If Feleipe plays, will KJ have the opportunity to play? Absolutely. We’ll just have to wait and continue to see. Does it make you feel any better? Probably not. We felt like KJ was a really good player. We knew what we have and know what we have going into the Alabama game with both quarterbacks certainly if Feleipe can play.”

Saban also talked about the Tide preparing for Arkansas’ pair of quarterbacks.

“I think both guys do a really, really good job,” Saban said. “[Jefferson] really played well against Missouri last week. Really executed the offense well. They didn’t make a lot of changes in a lot of the things that they did. But they have a really good concept of what they do on offense and do a really good job of executing it. The guy’s athletic. He’s a big, strong guy and he threw the ball effectively and threw it well. I thought he played really well.

“And I think Feleipe has played really, really well all year long. He has a good understanding of what he’s doing. He’s been effective as a passer and he’s extended plays and run when he’s needed to run. So I think all the guys are very capable and both have done a really good job when they’ve gotten opportunities.”

On Monday, Pittman was asked if he had confidence in Jefferson?

“Absolutely. I mean, the guy played a great game.” Pittman said. “Certainly. Absolutely. You know, it’s hard to say what the game plan’s going to be on ifs – if Feleipe plays, if he doesn’t, things of that nature. Certainly KJ’s earned the right to play some ball and Feleipe’s earned the right to be our starter. So we’ll just kind of go from there. If Feleipe can’t practice early in the week, well certainly we have no problem at all going with KJ. If he can, then we’ll make a decision sometime in the mid part of the week.”

Arkansas and Alabama will kickoff at 11 a.m. on Saturday morning and televised on ESPN.

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