For what feels like the 20th year in a row, KJ Jefferson is, once again, behind the wheel of the Arkansas offense. At this point, we all know what we’re getting: A massive QB who can be really tough to sack, consistently completes about 68% of his passes, and does an amazing job of generally keeping the chains moving.
After going with Kendall Briles at offensive coordinator the last few years, Arkansas finally paired a new playcaller with Jefferson in the familiar Dan Enos. Enos has had an eventful few years, going from the QB coach for Tua Tagovailoa to unofficially being Alabama’s promoted OC to bailing for Miami, then hopping to Cincinnati and Maryland before working his way back to Arkansas.
Overall, it’s been a pretty disappointing start for Enos, as the Razorbacks are 53rd in the country in points per game, Jefferson is at a full yard per attempt lower than previous seasons, he’s already matched his interception total from last year, and running game is aggressively underwhelming at only 3.0 yards per carry.
The offense is a plodding one, centered around the short passing game, WR screens, QB runs, and some off-tackle runs from the running backs. Jefferson has 82 rushing attempts already this year (granted, sacks factor into this), and Enos is very willing to call a bunch of QB draw plays off of different types of playaction.
The rest of the rushing game is split between Rocket Sanders, AJ Green, and Rashod Dubinion. Sanders was a top RB in the SEC last year with nearly 1500 yards, but has missed 3 games with injury this season so far and hasn’t really been effective when he’s been in.
AJ Green has really been the only back to find room to run and is averaging 6.1 yards per carry on 32 touches.
In the passing game, Jefferson has really locked on to transfer WR Andrew Armstrong. The 6’4” veteran was a 1000 yard receiver at Texas A&M-Commerce last year and used the Portal to jump up to division one football... And he’s been excellent. Armstrong leads the team with 35 catches for 437 yards and 4 touchdowns, making him a top-ten WR in the SEC.
He’s flanked by another small school grad transfer in the similarly 6’4” Isaac TeSlaa, who’s got 181 yards. There are a couple of other guys rotating through, such as the speedy Tyrone Broden, but the bulk of the wide receiver production has been Armstrong and TeSlaa.
At tight end, Luke Hasz has been a major bright spot with 253 yards and three touchdowns, but he broke his clavicle a couple of weeks ago. In his place, redshirt freshman Ty Washington stepped up and caught 7 passes for 90 yards and a couple of touchdowns in his first start. There’s a lot of optimism for him going forward now, but he’s definitely a bit of an unknown.
The Arkansas OL has been beleaguered so far. Left Guard Brady Latham has been a stalwart for three years now as an All-SEC level player, but the rest of the group has struggled to get much rushing game going. Pass protection hasn’t seemed too bad, but the rushing has been really tough for the whole group.
Unfortunately for the Razorbacks, Alabama’s defense is not a great matchup for them. Kevin Steele’s defense jumps on shorter pass routes at the expense of leaving DBs on an island deep, but Arkansas has shown very little proclivity for going deep this year.
Jefferson will extend some drives by breaking out of sacks, sure, but I don’t see a whole lot of offensive production from the Hogs in this game. Lets go with 9 points for Arkansas in this one.