The No. 16 Arkansas football team received good grades on both sides of the ball in their 45-10 Saturday win at home over the Georgia Southern Eagles. The Hogs moved up four spots in the Associated Press Top 25 after the victory.
Sophomore quarterback KJ Jefferson had a career day with his passing game. He went 13-23 with 366 yards and three touchdown passes. In 62 snaps, Jefferson received a 79.3 from Pro Football Focus.
Arkansas head coach Sam Pittman said he has a lot of confidence in Jefferson going forward with the rest of the season.
"He’s our quarterback and (he has) done a really nice job," Pittman said in the postgame press conference. "He’s a competitor and he still has that option to run and he’s got some pretty good wideouts to throw the ball to.”
Although Pittman was impressed with Jefferson’s performance, he said his game needs some work.
“Every time he misses a throw, it’s like, ‘Oh my gosh,’ in my mind,” Pittman said. “But then he throws one when we go 91, he throws one to Warren Thompson for 60 (yards) for a touchdown, I’m like, ‘Well, that’s what he’s supposed to do.’ I think Dan Marino missed a pass or two, so my mind’s got to work a little bit different.”
Arkansas’ rushing game stayed on point Friday with 269 rushing yards and an average of 5.6 rushing yards per play. The offense averaged 8.7 yards per play as a whole, and earned a grade of 80.2 from PFF.
“The main thing (was) preparation earlier in the week,” Jefferson said. “We knew we were going to take shots down the field. Come out, starting the game fast and (we) wanted to mix it up because the last two games we came out kind of slow with a couple of runs. Trying to keep the defense on their toes.”
Junior offensive lineman Ricky Stromberg tied for Southeastern Conference Lineman of the Week. He was graded 77.3 by PFF and became the first Razorback since Dan Skipper in 2016 to be awarded the honor.
The Hogs’ defense was graded with a 75.2 from PFF and an 86.6 in pass coverage. The major mistake that Arkansas made was allowing a 76-yard touchdown run to Georgia Southern quarterback Justin Tomlin. Sophomore safety Jalen Catalon said that defensive coordinator Barry Odom took the blame.
“Odom came in at halftime and kind of said that was a bad call he made,” Catalon said. “But like I said, we’re a defense where if he makes a bad call we’ve still got to do our job, you know, and make it right. It was just one of those things that we had to shake off and move on.”
The Razorback defense held the Eagles to 233 yards of total offense. Pittman was very pleased with how Arkansas handled Georgia Southern’s option-style offense.
“I thought we played well against the option,” Pittman said. “Really proud of our defense. We were swarming to the ball. (I) loved the defensive game plan that we had.”
Arkansas allowed an average of 2.9 yards per pass and broke four passes up. The Hogs held the Eagles to 5-18 in third down efficiency. Senior defensive end Tre Williams had 1.5 sacks and four pressures on the afternoon.
The Razorbacks will head to Arlington, Texas, to face the No. 7 Texas A&M Aggies at AT&T Stadium this Saturday. Kickoff is slated for 2:30 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on CBS.