FAYETTEVILLE — KJ Jefferson will almost certainly be working with a new center this week as he prepares for Ole Miss near his hometown.
Arkansas has Patrick Kutas shifting from right tackle to center this week and Beaux Limmer returning to guard where he played until the AutoZone Liberty Bowl. Following Tuesday’s practice, Jefferson talked about how the chemistry is with Kutas.
“It’s been good,” Jefferson said. “We’ve made a couple adjustments up front and those guys have handled it well. The main thing is to make sure PK is building confidence and getting his confidence level up each and every day with him getting back at center and making sure everybody is on the right page as far as communication with him. Me telling him to take it one play at a time, start with the snap first and then just let your confidence build up and let your instincts take over at that point. He’s been doing a really good job. The guys around him have been positive and giving him positive feedback to make sure his confidence level is going through the roof. So good so far.”
Jefferson was a four-star recruit out of Sardis (Miss.) North Panola. Sardis is 30 miles from Oxford so Jefferson is obviously excited about the chance to play in front of family.
“It feels pretty good just knowing I’m going to have a lot of support in the stands,” Jefferson said. “Family and friends that have never seen me play in person. So, it’s going to be kind of cool for them to come out and get the chance to see me play live in a college football game. Looking forward to it because I feel like it’s going to be an electric atmosphere. It’s going to be fun. Just looking forward to getting down there.”
In 2021, Jefferson and Arkansas went to Oxford and fell to the Rebels 52-51. Jefferson had a big day completing 25-of-35 passes for 326 yards and one touchdown. He also rushed 20 times for 85 yards and three touchdowns.
Jefferson feels that Arkansas’ offense will also get a boost from running back Raheim “Rocket” Sanders. He played against Texas A&M after missing the three previous games.
“He said it himself, he just wanted to know the rust off and get back into a rhythm with things,” Jefferson said. “It’s kind of hard sitting out and then trying to come back and pick up where you left off. This week, he’s approached it like a vet. Been very mature about the situations and just been working his tail off in practice and focused on the little small details that are going to help separate him and help get him into a groove early on in the game so he can play a factor in the game. He’s been having a great so far. Like you said, just knocking the rust off and getting back into the rhythm of things and getting back to playing the way he wants to play.”
Last season, Sanders went off against the Rebels in Razorback Stadium. Sanders rushed 24 times for 232 yards and three touchdowns. He also five passes for 29 yards to help lead the Hogs to a 42-27 victory.
Arkansas defensive tackle Cam Ball goes against Sanders some in practice when it’s good on good. Can Sanders have a breakout game this week?
“I think most definitely, Rocket has been in the healing chamber for a while now, so he’s ready to lift off, as one would say, because his name is Rocket,” Ball said.
Arkansas and Ole Miss will kickoff at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday night televised on the SEC Network.