FAYETTEVILLE — One of the best wide receivers in the nation is Arkansas junior Treylon Burks and on Saturday he may very well get his last chance to beat Alabama.
Burks is very likely to enter the 2022 NFL Draft since he’s projected to be a first-round pick, but for now that isn’t on his mind. What is on his mind is ending the Alabama winning streak against the Hogs.
“That’s really big to win 14 games in a row,” Burks said. “Honestly, we’re just going to take that opportunity to go out there and play Arkansas football, and the outcome will be the outcome.”
Arkansas is coming off a big road win at LSU, but it was a 37-0 loss to Georgia in Athens that Burks feels may have helped prepare the Hogs for this game.
“Yes sir,” Burks said. “I would agree with that, because the environment that Georgia had, it’ll be the same way at Tuscaloosa. We’ve just have to go out there and play our football. Make sure we’re watching the ball and doing the little things.”
A key Sam Pittman talked about earlier in the week is believing you can beat Alabama. Burks agrees with that.
“Just by believing in each other and knowing they’re human just like us,” Burks said. “We just have to go out there and believe in each other and just play the game.”
Burks discussed what he feels is the key for Arkansas to end the Alabama winning streak.
“Really just go out there and play our football on the offense,” Burks said. “Take advantage when they’re in man coverage and they’re blitzing, take advantage of the middle. Make big plays over the middle and just play football.”
Defenses have thrown all kinds of gimmicks at Burks this season including triple-teaming him. Is it frustrating to have to go against so many defenses designed against you?
“Sometimes,” Burks said. “Being triple-covered, running down the field sometimes it gets frustrating that I cant get the ball but knowing that I’ve got my teammates behind me that are going to back me up when there name is called, so I always look back on that. So it’s really not that bad.”
One thing that Burks also has to do is beware of quarterback KJ Jefferson scrambling knowing the ball could still come to him. Last week, after almost being sacked, Jefferson broke away from the defender and found Dominique Johnson for a touchdown.
“It’s really important just because KJ’s so versatile, you never know, one person cant tackle him in the backfield so he’ll shake one person, get out on the edge, you never know if the ball is coming to you so you keep playing till the whistle’s blown,” Burks said.
Arkansas’ Kenny Guiton puts a large emphasis on the wide receivers blocking and it has paid off this season. With LSU blitzing so much and maybe some other teams doing that in the future Burks knows it’s very important to block for screen passes.
“Like I always say, it’s important to block on the edge,” Burks said. “Every now and then we’ll miss a block but we know just to make sure we get it done the next play.”
People in Arkansas were puzzled this week when Burks wasn’t named one of the 10 semifinalists for the Biletnikoff Award, but in his typical fashion the former Warren standout had a predictable response.
“I really don’t care,” Burks said. “I don’t care what nobody thinks. I just play football for my family and my teammates.”
Burks has never been one to make it about himself and is just as unselfish on the football field. Pittman did chime in on the discussion as well.
“Oh, I’m the worst about awards,” Pittman said. “I mean, I didn’t know that. Does that surprise me? He would win it if I was voting. Not really. I don’t know where he would matchup statistics-wise. There’s a lot of stats out there. But for us, he’s, and I would say if you ask our opponents, the real deal and worthy of being on that list.”
Alabama’s Nick Saban is also high on Burks and feels his defense has its work cut out for it defending him on Saturday.
“It’s difficult because he is a physical mismatch.” Saban said. “He’s bigger than most of the guys that are trying to guard him. It’s kind of like a point guard trying to cover a power forward-type guy who can run fast. Sometimes those mismatches are difficult. So, that’s a challenge in the game. How do you do it? Players have to play with great technique, and they have to understand that you’ve got to play big against a guy like that. And that’s difficult to do sometimes because he’s a big guy that plays big.”
Saturday’s game will kickoff at 2:30 p.m. and televised on CBS.