Whatever hopes KJ Jefferson has of salvaging his NFL prospects after a poor seven-game stretch to start the season could get a boost by Arkansas offensive coordinator Dan Enos taking a page or two from an NFL team.
No, not the Chiefs’ and Eagles’ offensive lines, like offensive line coach Cody Kennedy so proudly proclaimed in the preseason, but rather the Houston Texans who sit at 3-3 despite having a rookie quarterback and being ravaged along the offensive line with injuries.
Clint Stoerner, the former Razorback quarterback and analyst for SportsRadio 610 (Texans radio affiliate), has had enough when it comes to his alma mater. His venting of frustrations on X (formerly Twitter) about the overall aesthetic of the Razorback offense undoubtedly echoes how most of the fanbase is feeling.
Using the Houston Texans as Inspiration
Watching Enos turn a playmaking quarterback with mojo into a pocket passer makes no sense. As Stoerner sees it, the Texans have won two out of their last three games doing many of the same things that the Arkansas offense refuses to implement.
The Texans drafted former Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud with the second overall pick of the NFL Draft. The former Heisman hopeful, listed at 6-foot-3 just like KJ Jefferson, has accelerated what was supposed to be a full-on rebuild with his dual-threat ability.
Like the Razorbacks, the Texans struggle in the run game, ranking 25th out of 32 teams in total rushing. However, with the help of some creative scheming by first-year offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik, the Texans have wins over the New Orleans Saints, Jacksonville Jaguars and Pittsburgh Steelers, the last two of which have winning records.
“Their quarterback went out there and didn’t get sacked for three straight ball games,” Stoerner earlier this week on 103.7 The Buzz. “He went out there and actually won two of those (last) three ball games because he was just getting the ball out quickly, and it was an extremely creative quick game that they created.”
Arkansas football has always prided itself on a strong rushing attack. The Hogs are coming off back-to-back seasons in which they finished seventh in the country in rushing. Raheim ”Rocket” Sanders’ stop-start season has come to a screeching halt with a lingering knee injury. While it would be nice to have a reliable run game, the Texans prove that isn’t paramount when working with a struggling offensive line.
“They couldn’t run the football a lot like Arkansas,” Stoerner told Justin Acri and Wess Moore of The Zone. “They still can’t run the football, but they put some stuff in the game plan that allows their offensive line, and I have to protect so long, and their quarterback gets it out… I want Dan Enos to stay away from the stuff that we know this group can’t do.”
Clint Stoerner’s Suggestions for Arkansas football
So far, there’s been too much can’t-do. The three-headed Rocket replacement of AJ Green, Rashod Dubinion and Dominique Johnson all have less than 250 yards. Even in the Chad Morris years, when Arkansas won just four games combined, the Hogs averaged 143.3 and 147.3 rushing yards in 2018 and 2019, respectively. Those numbers are angelic compared to the 109.9 rushing yards this year, good enough for 117th out of 133 schools across the country and third-worst in the SEC. When it isn’t working, it’s best they attempt to change it up before it’s too late.
Count Stoerner among the fans and media alike who have been flabbergasted at the usage of wide receiver Isaiah Sategna — even with his “breakout” performance against Alabama for a whopping 19 yards, which included a touchdown. Sategna has six catches for 40 yards for the entire season. With his speed, those are stats that the former Arkansas Gatorade Boys Track & Field Player of the Year is capable of putting up in a half, let alone seven games. The guy is fast. Use it. Don’t hide it.
“I would stay away from the wide outside zone run,” Stoerner added. “I would find a way to get the ball quickly to Sategna… I got big-body receivers, other than Sategna, I would let those guys block and feed him the ball in the quick game and in the screen game. He had a 13, 14-yard screen that he caught and took it up the sideline.”
The Importance of Arkansas vs Mississippi State
It’s one thing for fans to be upset about the play-calling during a losing season. When are they not upset? But when a top-five all-time Razorback passing leader calls Enos out for the mind-numbing confusion, it’s now or never for the penny to drop. Then again, Enos has gone seven weeks of trying to fit a round peg in a square hole. Maybe an Arkansas football legend can finally convince him to do otherwise.
The season has fallen flat on its face and a loss on Saturday to Mississippi State would have it teetering on the edge of disaster. Cody Kennedy’s comparison to two of the best teams in the NFL, however in jest he meant it at the time, sounds laughable now. Perhaps they should look toward the Texans for some more realistic inspiration as the Razorbacks look desperately to escape this season with a .500 record.
Despite a bit of a bounceback at Alabama, KJ Jefferson still isn’t yet looking like the primetime pro prospect that CJ Stroud was in what could be his last college season.
But don’t worry about that. These Houston Texans are all too human, but they have apparently found a way out of their mess with some creative scheming. Enos would be wise to take heed.
Listen to all of Clint Stoerner’s thoughts on Arkansas’ offense here:
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