Hogs Put All Cards on Table When It Comes to QB Quandry vs LSU

KJ Jefferson, Malik Hornsby, Arkansas vs LSU
photo credit: Nick Wenger

FAYETTEVILLE — With usual starter KJ Jefferson still dealing with a shoulder injury, Malik Hornsby will make his first career start at quarterback Saturday against LSU.

The redshirt sophomore didn’t start against Mississippi State earlier in the season when Jefferson was out with a presumed concussion, but did play the bulk of the snaps after providing a spark with Cade Fortin struggling.

Hornsby has been the backup quarterback since then, but hasn’t seen meaningful reps. He got in late against BYU when Jefferson was shaken up and played late in the blowout win at Auburn.

However, much to the chagrin of Arkansas football fans, he did not get on the field last week against Liberty when Jefferson was clearly not at full strength. The offense managed only a field goal on its first 11 drives and — after two long drives by Jefferson — came up just short in a 21-19 loss.

Head coach Sam Pittman had been optimistic earlier in the week that Jefferson would feel better this week, but revealed Wednesday that after throwing some in Monday’s practice, he was sore and didn’t throw much at all Tuesday.

Jefferson appeared to give it a go during pregame warmups, but after throwing one warmup pass, he watched the other quarterbacks throw to the receivers.

In limited action this season, Hornsby has completed 9 of 18 passes (50%) for 244 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. He’s added another 135 yards on 13 carries for an impressive 10.4-yard average.

Jefferson has started eight games and is completing 66.7% of his passes (148 of 222) for 1,981 yards, 17 touchdowns and three interceptions, plus rushed for 425 yards and six touchdowns.

The only other quarterback available for the game is Fortin, a walk-on transfer who began his career as a scholarship player at North Carolina and South Florida. He started the Mississippi State game and played some against Alabama, completing 6 of 16 passes for 43 yards.

Freshman walk-on Rykar Acebo is dressed out and went through pregame warmups, but is not on the 70-man active roster, according to a UA spokesperson.

Dalton Wagner Out for Arkansas Football

Another injury tidbit of note is that sixth-year super senior Dalton Wagner is not dressed out. He is the Razorbacks’ starting right tackle and played pretty much every meaningful snap this season.

In his place, junior Ty’Kieast Crawford — a former four-star recruit who began his career at Charlotte — is expected to make his first start at Arkansas. It will be his first significant reps in two years with the Razorbacks.

New Starters for Arkansas Football

In addition to Hornsby and Crawford on offense, Arkansas also has a pair of changes on the defensive side of the ball. Coming off his stellar debut on defense, Quincey McAdoo got the nod at cornerback over Malik Chavis. As expected, Jayden Johnson started at nickel for the suspended Myles Slusher

Latavious Brini Interception – 11:29, 1Q

LSU’s first possession of the game included a third-and-18 conversion on a 20-yard run right up the middle, but it ended when Jayden Daniels threw an interception right to Latavious Brini at the line of scrimmage.

Arkansas Strikes First – Cam Little FG

4:48, 1Q – Arkansas 3, LSU 0

Malik Hornsby led the Razorbacks on a 10-play, 46-yard drive that got into the red zone before stalling out. They elected to kick a field goal and Cam Little’s 28-yard attempt was good to give them the lead.

LSU Fumble – 4:09 – 1Q

On the second play of the Tigers’ next drive, they messed up the mesh point and the ball popped up. It’s credited as a Jayden Daniels fumble and Brini recovered it at the 10.

END of 1Q – Arkansas 3, LSU 0

Despite having great field position, the Razorbacks came away with nothing after the fumble. They got down to the 2, but were stopped on fourth down.

The Tigers have already moved the chains once and still have the ball when play resumes in the second quarter.

Wild Fourth-Down Sequence – 13:44, 2Q

After a timeout, LSU lined up to go for it on fourth-and-1 at its own 24. Arkansas seemingly stuffed the play for a loss to get great field position, but the play was blown dead because of a false start by LSU. On fourth-and-6, LSU dialed up a fake punt and the punter ran for enough yardage for the first down, but Jordan Crook was held on the play. Ultimately, the Tigers punted it away.

Defense Limits LSU to FG after Hornsby Fumble

9:28, 2Q – LSU 3, Arkansas 3

Scrambling on a third-down play, LSU knocked the ball loose from Malik Hornsby and honestly had a good shot at a scoop-and-score, but ended up having to fall on it. The Tigers got into the red zone, but the Razorbacks’ defense stiffened and limited them to a field goal. Damian Ramos’ 38-yard kick ties it up.

Arkansas Defense Limits LSU to Another FG

1:51, 2Q – LSU 6, Arkansas 3

Late in the half, LSU put together the longest drive by either team. Facing a fourth-and-4, the Tigers lined up to go for it, but a false start led to them taking the field goal instead. Ramos’ 29-yard kick gives LSU the lead.

HALF – LSU 6, Arkansas 3

Arkansas got to about midfield on its two-minute drive before having to punt. LSU took a knee to send the game to halftime.

LSU Scores Game’s First TD

5:25, 3Q – LSU 13, Arkansas 3

After a turnover on downs by the Razorbacks near midfield, which featured Malik Hornsby slipping and falling down for a 12-yard loss on fourth down, LSU marched down the field and scored. A 26-yard pass from Daniels to Kayshon Boutte set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Josh Williams.

Cade Fortin Takes Over at QB

On Arkansas’ third possession of the half, it finally made the switch to Cade Fortin. He completed a couple of passes, but his third-down attempt was deflected and fell incomplete. It was the Razorbacks’ first three-and-out since the opening drive of the game.

END of 3Q – LSU 13, Arkansas 3

Cade Fortin-Matt Landers Connection

13:17, 4Q – LSU 13, Arkansas 10

Facing a third-and-17 as the fourth quarter got under way, Fortin completed a pass to Matt Landers over the middle for 29 yards. That connection is also how the Razorbacks capped the drive, as Fortin delivered a strike to Landers streaking down the sideline for a 40-yard touchdown. Fortin got hit hard as he delivered it.

FINAL – LSU 13, Arkansas 10

The Razorbacks managed just one first down on their next two drives with Fortin. On the second one, Max Fletcher was called in to punt and his punt was downed at the 12 with exactly 4 minutes remaining.

The defense thought it forced a three-and-out when McGlothern knocked a receiver out of bounds, but he was given the line to gain and the call stood as called after a replay review. Arkansas ended up stopping the Tigers on the next set of downs.

Arkansas took over at its own 24-yard line with 1:35 left on the clock and no timeouts remaining. After a drop by Landers, Fortin hit Haselwood for a first down. On the next play, Fortin was hit as he threw and the ball came out. LSU recovered and the call was confirmed by replay. That’ll do it.

How to Watch Arkansas vs LSU

Date: Saturday, Nov. 12

Location: Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium (Fayetteville, Ark.)

Kickoff Time and TV Schedule: 11 a.m. CT (ESPN)

Announcers: Joe Tessitore (play-by-play), Greg McElroy (analyst), Katie George (sideline reporter)

LSU’s Rankings: No. 7 (AP) | No. 8 (Coaches) | No. 15 (SP+) | No. 9 (FPI)

Arkansas’ Rankings: NR (AP) | NR (Coaches) | No. 31 (SP+) | No. 47 (FPI)

ESPN FPI: Arkansas has a 27.6% chance to win (down 18.2 percentage points from preseason projection)


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