ARLINGTON, Texas — Not only did the Arkansas football team make it through a game healthy for the first time this season, but it also got a couple of key players back from injury Saturday night.
After ending the 2021 season as the Razorbacks’ starting running back, Dominique Johnson has been slowly working his way back from a torn ACL. In the 23-21 loss to Texas A&M, the junior from Crowley, Texas, ran for 32 yards on five carries.
Not one who usually likes to comment on specific players until reviewing the film, head coach Sam Pittman was complimentary of the showing.
“I thought he played well,” Pittman said. “It looked like he was going north and south pretty good, looks to me.”
Johnson picked up just 1 yard on the final play of the first quarter, but then had runs of 12, 8 and 7 yards on consecutive plays early in the second. However, he wouldn’t touch the ball again until midway through the fourth quarter, when he had another 4-yard run.
That gave Johnson a 6.4-yard average, which was second only to true freshman Rashod Dubinion (8.5-yard average on just two carries). The Aggies mostly bottled up SEC-leading rusher Rocket Sanders, limiting him to 68 yards on 17 carries for a 4-yard average and his first game under 100 yards this season.
Myles Slusher Provides Boost to Defense
The other player returning from injury against the Aggies, starting nickel Myles Slusher provided an immediate boost to Arkansas’ struggling secondary.
On Texas A&M’s second possession of the game, the former four-star recruit met Devon Achane in the backfield and tackled him for a 4-yard loss on first down. Then, in a third-and-long situation, he tracked down a scrambling Max Johnson and pushed him out of bounds one yard shy of the line to gain, forcing the Aggies into their second straight three-and-out.
Later in the first quarter Slusher also broke up a pass intended for Ainias Smith on third down, leading to the fourth straight three-and-out by the Aggies.
“He’s a good player,” Pittman said. “I mean, I think he was all over the place, made a lot of tackles. He’s a good player now. I mean, really good player. We need him to stay healthy.”
Slusher finished with six tackles, including one tackle for loss, as well as one pass breakup and one quarterback hurry. He had missed the last two games with an undisclosed injury suffered in the Week 1 win over Cincinnati.
KJ Jefferson Reaches Two Milestones
The biggest play of the game was KJ Jefferson’s fumble near the goal line when he tried to leap over the pile from the 4-yard line and that is what most fans will likely remember, but he also hit a couple of career milestones in the loss.
With 105 rushing yards against the Aggies, he now has 1,063 yards on the ground in his career. Jefferson is the seventh quarterback in UA history to reach the 1,000-yard mark and he actually moved ahead of two of them in the game, surpassing Billy Moore (1,021) and Lamar McHan (1,004). The only quarterbacks with more rushing yards are Matt Jones (2,535), Quinn Grovey (1,746), Ron Calcagni (1,315) and Greg Thomas (1,169).
It was also the first 100-yard rushing game by an Arkansas quarterback in SEC play since Jones ran for 126 against Ole Miss in 2004. The only other time a UA quarterback has hit the century mark over that span was in the Outback Bowl, when Jefferson ran for 110 yards.
In the passing game, Jefferson completed 12 of 19 passes (63.2%) for 171 yards and two touchdowns. That gives him 4,011 career passing yards, making him the 13th player in school history to join the 4,000-yard club. He’s the first to reach that milestone since Austin Allen in 2017.
Southwest Classic Tidbits
For the second time in four games this season, the point spread in sportsbooks was within half of a point of the final margin in an Arkansas football game.
Earlier this year, the Razorbacks managed to cover as a 6.5-point favorite against Cincinnati with a 7-point win (31-24) over the Bearcats. On Saturday, they ended up on the other side, coming up a half-point short of covering the spread that favored Texas A&M. The 23-21 margin was enough to cover the opening 2.5-point spread, but it closed at 1.5.
It was the 16th time Arkansas has been an underdog during Sam Pittman’s tenure and it is now 11-5 against the spread — and 5-11 straight up — in those games.
Saturday also marked the eighth time in 14 matchups since 2009 that the Arkansas-Texas A&M game was decided by seven points or less.
Also, the announced attendance of 63,580 was the largest for the Southwest Classic at AT&T Stadium since 2017. Each of the last three games in Arlington had crowds under 58,000, but Saturday’s attendance still ranked eighth out of 11 matchups at the Cowboys’ stadium.
Bumper Pool Moves Into No. 2
With a team-high seven tackles against the Aggies, linebacker Bumper Pool moved past Ken Hamlin (381) and Jerry Franklin (382) and into second on Arkansas’ career tackles list. His 385 tackles now trail only Tony Bua’s 408.
At his current pace of nine tackles per game, Pool would break the school record sometime during the BYU game on Oct. 15.
Arkansas Football Injury Report
- DB Myles Slusher (undisclosed): Started and played in his first game since the opener… Finished with 6 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 PBU and 1 QBH
- RB Dominique Johnson (ACL): Played in his first game of the season… Finished with 5 carries for 32 yards
- DE Jashaud Stewart (undisclosed): Although he dressed out and went through pregame warmups, Stewart did not play for the second straight week
- CB Dwight McGlothern (hamstring): Started and played despite missing some time with a hamstring injury in last week’s game… Finished with 2 tackles
- CB LaDarrius Bishop (knee): Did not travel
- WR Isaiah Sategna (ankle): Did not travel
- DT Taurean Carter (knee): Did not travel… Expected to be out for a while
- S Jalen Catalon (shoulder): Out for the year
Check out highlights from Arkansas’ loss to Texas A&M:
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