Jefferson

Razorback junior quarterback KJ Jefferson (#1) from Sardis, MS carries three defenders for a first down against Texas A&M Saturday night at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX.

FAYETTEVILLE – Arkansas fell to Texas A&M 23-21 on Saturday night in Arlington’s AT&T Stadium. The Hogs had won three previous games to jump to No. 10 in the nation at that point. Now, Arkansas will face No. 2 Alabama and are coming off a loss. On Monday, Sam Pittman talked about how the team has responded to the loss.

“I think we’re fine,” Pittman said. “After the game on the bus I was on going to the airport, I went back and talked to each and every one of them. The sad thing is we lost. The great thing is we’re not used to it. That was only two losses in the last 10 games, but it hurt. We had guys that were crying. But every Saturday you put yourself in that situation, and you just try to do the best you can as a coach and as a player. We’re going to flush it out of here in the first half of our meeting, then the second half is going to be on to Alabama. We have to learn from some things we did that we have to not do. Once we get that handled, we’ll move on. We don’t have time. We have the University of Alabama coming in here. I’m sure we’ll rebound and be excited to play.”

As with each game, the margin of winning or losing is a narrow one. It was easy to look back at just a few plays from Saturday night and ask what if?

“It’s like every play, but those are the ones that stick out,” Pittman said. “Guy can miss a tackle, or one time we had a drive going and threw a pass out to (Jadon) Haselwood and lost five yards, but we overcame that and scored. We overcame that. Sometimes a guy misses a tackle wide open, and a guy runs for a touchdown. It shows more. Obviously, on our fumble, we’ve talked about it. We’ve had that situation before, and it goes back for a touchdown. A field goal. Might not be that big a deal if you miss it early in the first quarter. Each play really matters. We’re going to not make a mountain out of a molehill. We should have played better. We should have not made those mistakes, but we have to move on and learn from it. If we can do that, we will be fine.”

Pittman talked about offensive balance on Monday. For instance, the team was driving down the field on the Aggies with Dominique Johnson running hard. Then they inserted Malik Hornsby into the game and three plays in a row to him didn’t produce any yardage. The Hogs drive stalled at that point and they punted.

“Well, we go into a game basically thinking that you’re going to be about 50-50, 50 run, 50 pass, and you have your packages with different guys,” Pittman said. “But then, during a game you go with what’s working for you. There’s always that fine line where you go ‘keep doing it, keep doing it, keep doing it,’ and you’re setting somebody up for something else. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. For instance, on one of Hornsby’s plays, we didn’t pitch it back to KJ (Jefferson). If we do, (Trey) Knox is wide-open. That was the play, and for whatever reason there was a little bit of penetration on (Luke) Jones’ guy. He decided to run it instead of pitch it back. If he pitched it back, I think the guy is wide-open, we score a touchdown. Those are things that we felt like, those all come in 2-plays series, one in front of the other one.

“Hopefully you try to get success on both, but our problem right now – it’s not a problem – but we have a lot of good wideouts, we have a lot of good running backs. Getting each one of them carries and things of that nature. We’re just trying to win the game, but sometimes things go ... the last drive, for instance. Whether we’re supposed to or not, I was trying to score a touchdown. We had it down there second and 5, and I was trying to milk the clock and score. We’d already seen things during the day that, Missouri had missed their kick straight up, this, that and the other. I just thought we could score, go for 2 and get up 6. If it was under a minute, I was going to score. It was second and 5, we had an unfortunate snap, Rick (Stromberg) hit himself in the butt, so that changed a little bit of our thinking at that point, as well. We’re just trying to do what we came with. The game plan will have a 50-50 run to pass. We’re going to take really what’s going well for us or what they’re going to give to us. We have a plan of what the defense has done against other opponents. Then if they change on you, you’ve got to change. Sometimes that’s throwing the ball, sometimes that’s running the ball outside, whatever it may be.”

Jefferson had a costly fumble with Arkansas up 14-7 and at the Aggies three. However, he tried to jump at that point to score from the four, the ball was knocked loose and returned 98 yards for a touchdown. That is two games in a row Jefferson has fumbled. Is he trying to do too much?

“I don’t think so,” Pittman said. “I think his ball security hasn’t been as good as what it was a year ago carrying it. I think he just gets caught up in the moment. If you look back at Ole Miss last year, he dove over those three guys and extended the ball and all that kind of stuff. I think he is trying to win the game, and probably that’s about it to be honest with you.”

Pittman also announced that cornerback LaDarrius Bishop along with safety Jalen Catalon are out for the season. It was previously announced that Catalon was out all season. Pittman detailed what the issue with Bishop is.

“Cartilage that we repaired,” Pittman said. “If you repair it, that goes into a three-to-four month...That was best for the kid. You obviously can trim cartilages and all that when you have a fake knee like I do. If you trim it too much or you don’t have any bone in there, or you can elect to repair it. His was intact but it was loose, and they were able to sew it back in there and repair it, so that’s what we wanted to do for him.”

Arkansas will host Alabama at 2:30 p.m. this week with the game on CBS. It was also announced on Monday the Arkansas game at Mississippi State on Oct. 8 will begin at 11 a.m. and televised on the SEC Network.

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