In Praising Taylen Green, Luke Hasz Lets Slip Important Truth about KJ Jefferson

KJ Jefferson, Taylen Green, Luke Hasz, Arkansas football
photo credit: Craven Whitlow

It only took about half a century, but I think I may have finally learned a lesson about being an Arkansas football fan: Never get too excited about the future.  

Last October, I was in Bud Walton Arena watching the Hogs beat Purdue in the most competitive exhibition basketball game in the history of the universe.  We won.  It was glorious and I was convinced this basketball team would go deep into March.  

Now that March is here, I realize the folly of my ways, which is why I’m fighting back expectations for Taylen Green’s potential as the Hogs likely starting QB.  Of course, we won’t get to see if that discretion is warranted until after DVH brings the CWS trophy home to Fayetteville from Omaha, so until then we’re left to prematurely over-speculate.  

However, it’s hard not to get excited about the guy when you watch his highlights.  And then, when Luke Hasz pops off on Twitter or X, or whatever, to say Green’s leadership is “tremendous compared to any other quarterback I’ve had,” my resolve for level-headedness is pushed to the brink:

Keep in mind, Luke Hasz played with KJ Jefferson last year.  

Clearly, Hasz’s year with KJ was not Jefferson’s best as a Hog, but they still did some good things before Hasz got hurt. Jefferson, after all, turned him into easily one of the best freshman tight ends in the country before getting hurt, which makes his Tweet even more meaningful.

And obviously, a social media post of this kind makes it impossible not to compare last year’s QB to next year’s.  Is it premature to compare the two?  Of course it is, but that’s what we do in this racket and it’s not like I’ve got a Razorback basketball game to watch.

Where Blame for Arkansas Football Should Lay

Now, before I go down this road, let me be clear about something.  I place the blame for the dismal performance of Arkansas football last year at the feet of Dan Enos way more than I do KJ’s.  I’d say Enos deserves about 90 percent of the blame to KJ’s 10 percent.

Enos took a great college QB and made him look like he may not have had the talent to play in the SEC, but to suggest KJ didn’t have that level of talent would be as ridiculous as thinking Jalen Hurts wouldn’t have made it to the NFL without having been coached by Enos for the year they happened to be on the same campus together.

No, KJ tore it up as a Hog and broke multiple records or was among the all-time Hog QB leaders in TD passes, completions, completion percentage, rushing TDs, and well … the list goes on.  In fact, if Briles had stuck around, Jefferson would have shattered those records instead of merely breaking them. 

So, when someone with the credibility of Luke Hasz takes it upon himself to give such a glowing review of Green, we should not only listen to him, but dare I say, get more than a little excited.  This is especially true when we know that BMFingP will be calling the plays for him.

Hell, Petrino made Casey Dick look like an SEC QB.  Enough said.

There’s a lot of spring practice left for the Hogs and anything can happen, but before we go into any kind of informal statistics about his play, it’s not a stretch to think that Hasz wouldn’t be wasting his allotted 280 Twitter characters praising the leadership of someone who was falling on his face as a new Hog.  Nor would he reiterate it about 7 and a half minutes into this press conference:

YouTube video

And one side note, if you want to get excited about the personalities on this team, don’t skip forward to Hasz’s comments.  Watch the whole thing.

According to numbers compiled by Andrew Hutchinson, and others, Green  went seven for 10 in 7-on-7 drills, 3 for 6 on third-downs, and two for five in the red zone and put up similar numbers on day 2 and day 4 of practice.

The 6’6” Green has some serious gallop in his game, akin to what Daniel Gafford might have looked in a football uniform.  If KJ looked like a fast-moving bull intent on mowing over a matador, Green looks like a gazelle with lightning quickness making lions look like children.  Given his height and agility some have compared him to Vince Young, but since Young played for Texas, I’ll stick with the Gafford comparison.

KJ Jefferson and Taylen Green

Make no mistake, KJ arguably did as much to get the Hogs out of trouble with his legs as Matt Jones did.  I’m old enough to remember great Arkansas’ running QBs going all the way back to Ron Calcagni and was in college when Quinn Grovey was the starter.  It’s easy to think that Green has every bit of the potential to be the best of all of them if, or when, BMFP builds an offense designed to take advantage of it.

Perhaps, in the end, Taylen Green will keep showing so much leadership that he’ll naturally raise the level of the play of the offensive linemen, who will want to protect him all the more. Likeability matters. As does a touch of humility.

The consensus opinion is that Green came to the Hill and immediately took over the team with his personality. That’s Jefferson, who between all the wearing of the bling and fancy suits and some anecdotal stories seems to have gotten just a wee bit too big for his britches last year. According to this insider, Jefferson spent the majority of last year’s offseason collecting NIL payments and turning down offers to throw with the rising 2023 receiving corps.

This doesn’t mean Jefferson is a bad quarterback or bad person, mind you. It just wasn’t a good fit with Enos and last year’s team. He almost certainly knew before any of us how bad that offensive line was going to be. In going to UCF, perhaps all he needed was a fresh start and he’ll again be the leader he once was at Arkansas. He certainly is saying the right things in his new home along that front:

Taylen Green, too, gets the benefit of a fresh start after a couple years in Boise State.  He seems to have time for everyone on the squad, not just the guys who are guaranteed to play.

The talent and leadership is in place for the kind of unexpected surge that Missouri achieved last season if everything clicks into place.  Whether these ingredients  translate into huge success on the field against the best teams in college football for Arkansas remains to be seen, but it does matter after the smoking trainwreck of a note 2023 ended on that I can say this with a straight face.

More on KJ Jefferson

Jefferson is considered ranked No. 4 among all Big 12 quarterbacks according to 247Sports, behind Utah’s Cam Rising, Arizona’s Noah Fifita and Colorado’s Shadeur Sanders, while ahead of Kansas’ Jalon Daniels, his dueling partner from Arkansas’ last bowl game.

“College fans are bound to put respect on Jefferson’s name once he’s entrenched in Coach Gus Malzahn’s strong run system,” writes 247Sports’ Micheal Goens, while acknowledging the improvements that still need to be done: “He needs to become a more fluid passer, less stiff on short and intermediate throws.”

More on Arkansas football from BoAS here:

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