Aug 24, 2019; Orlando, FL, USA; Miami Hurricanes offensive coordinator Dan Enos prior to the game at Camping World Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Arkansas hires Maryland’s Dan Enos as OC

One day after losing offensive coordinator Kendal Briles, Arkansas filled the vacancy Thursday with a familiar face in Dan Enos.

Enos, 54, was Arkansas’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach from 2015-17. He’s since had stops on the staffs at Alabama, Miami and Cincinnati before serving as the offensive coordinator and QBs coach at Maryland for the past two seasons.

The Terrapins set various program records both years, including quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa breaking all of Maryland’s major single-season and career passing records. In 2022, Maryland ranked fourth in the Big Ten in total offense (401.2 yards per game), third in passing offense (259.8 ypg) and fifth in scoring (28.2 ppg) under Enos.

Briles departed Fayetteville on Wednesday to take the offensive coordinator job at TCU. He had served as Arkansas’ OC and QBs coach since 2020.

Arkansas went 7-6 (3-5 SEC) last season and beat Kansas 55-53 in a triple-overtime Liberty Bowl victory. Dual-threat quarterback KJ Jefferson said he will return in 2023.

–Field Level Media

Nov 19, 2022; Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks quarterback KJ Jefferson (1) rushes in the second quarter against the Ole Miss Rebels at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Arkansas QB KJ Jefferson returning in 2023

Quarterback KJ Jefferson announced Friday he will return to play one more season at Arkansas.

Jefferson, who just completed his fourth year at Arkansas as a redshirt junior, was eligible for the NFL draft. He teased the idea of heading to the pros in his social media announcement before declaring his true intentions.

“As for the Arkansas fans, I have always loved playing for you all and the support you have given me is unmatched,” Jefferson wrote.

“With that said, it’s time to fulfill my dreams … and my dreams wouldn’t be complete without one more year on The Hill” — a nickname for Arkansas’ campus.

In 10 games in 2022, Jefferson completed 68.3 percent of his passes for 2,361 yards and 22 touchdowns with only four interceptions. He added 510 rushing yards and seven touchdowns on the ground.

He’s thrown for 5,529 yards, 46 touchdowns and nine picks in his career at Arkansas.

Jefferson became the Razorbacks’ starting quarterback in 2021 and guided them to a 9-4 record, including an Outback Bowl victory over Penn State, the program’s first bowl win since 2015.

Arkansas (6-6, 3-5 SEC) is bowl eligible again this season.

–Field Level Media

Nov 25, 2022; Columbia, Missouri, USA; Missouri Tigers quarterback Brady Cook (12) drops to throw against the Arkansas Razorbacks during the first half at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Missouri beats rival Arkansas to gain bowl eligibility

Brady Cook passed for 242 yards and a touchdown and ran for 138 yards and a score as Missouri defeated Arkansas 29-27 Friday in Columbia, Mo.

Dominic Lovett caught six passes for 130 yards for the Tigers (6-6, 3-5 Southeastern Conference), who won the Battle Line Rivalry trophy and gained bowl eligibility.

KJ Jefferson completed 20 of 27 passes for 205 yards two touchdowns and ran for another for the Razorbacks (6-6, 3-5).

Missouri outgained Arkansas 468 to 318, earned seven sacks and forced two turnovers.

The Tigers struck first with a 40-yard field goal by Harrison Mevis 5:26 into the game. Cook’s 27-yard run sparked the 46-yard scoring drive.

The Razorbacks responded with a 75-yard touchdown drive to move ahead 7-3. Jefferson completed a 37-yard pass to Matt Landers to get Arkansas rolling and he capped the series with 3-yard TD run.

The Tigers countered with their own 75-yard march to take a 10-7 lead. The key play was Cook’s 27-yard pass to Lovett and the finish came on Cody Schrader’s 3-yard touchdown run.

Cook’s 55-yard pass to Lovett set up the quarterback’s 9-yard touchdown run as Missouri expanded its lead to 17-7 to open the second quarter.

Arkansas cut its deficit to 17-14 with Jefferson’s 27-yard TD pass to Landers.

Mevis hit a 27-yard field goal to push the Missouri lead to 20-14 with 5:26 left in the first half.

But the Razorbacks countered with another 75-yard touchdown drive to take a 21-10 lead. This time, Jefferson hit Raheim Sanders with an 8-yard touchdown pass.

Missouri scored on its first second-half possession on Cook’s 23-yard touchdown pass to Luther Burden III. The Tigers settled for a 26-21 lead when their 2-point conversion attempt failed.

Mevis made it 29-21 with a 29-yard field goal. Cam Little’s 46-yard field goal for Arkansas cut the lead to 29-24, then his 20-yard field goal cut it to 29-27 with 12:40 left to play.

The Tigers’ defense held firm from there, forcing two three-and-outs and a fumble on the Razorbacks’ last-ditch final play.

–Field Level Media

Sep 17, 2022; Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA;  Liberty Flames head coach Hugh Freeze looks on against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons before the game at Truist Field. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Arkansas eyes bowl eligibility with Liberty coming to town

Liberty coach Hugh Freeze will be guarding against complacency while Arkansas coach Sam Pittman expects the “best game” all season from Freeze’s Flames when the two clash Saturday afternoon in Fayetteville, Ark.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that he’ll have them ready,” Pittman said of Freeze. “They’ve had a bye week after their best game all year. I expect a really close, tight game and, hopefully, we can make enough plays to win.”

Pittman’s Razorbacks (5-3) are coming off a 41-27 victory at Auburn that was the Hogs’ first win in Jordan-Hare Stadium since 2012 and first win against the Tigers since 2015.

A win for Arkansas this weekend would make them bowl-eligible for just the second time in the last six seasons.

The Flames (7-1) had an open date after posting an impressive 41-14 victory over BYU on Oct. 22. Freeze welcomed the extra time to celebrate the win, which vaulted his team into the No. 23 spot in the AP Top 25 Poll but left it short of a spot in the first College Football Playoff rankings of the season, which were released Tuesday.

Freese called the AP ranking “pretty special,” and something worth celebrating, but also noted just how fickle the polls can be during the season.

“Arkansas is going to be favored this week and they should be,” Freeze said. “They’ve got better players and probably better coaches. So you can easily get knocked out of the Top 25.”

The Flames have won their last five games since an early 37-36 loss at Wake Forest despite playing an injury-induced game of “musical chairs” at quarterback. Utah transfer Charlie Brewer broke his hand after starting the opener, and Kaidon Salter got the next two starts before sidelined by a groin injury.

Johnathan Bennett has started four of the last five games, including last week when he enjoyed by far the best performance of his career. The junior threw for a career-high 247 yards and a pair of touchdowns in completing 24 of 29 passes.

Freeze said Salter remains doubtful. Brewer returned to practice this week, though Freeze said Bennett likely will start.

“I think they’re both really fine players,” Pittman said. “Both can throw the football. Both can command the offense.”

Pittman had both bad news and good news on the injury front for the unranked Razorbacks. He confirmed that Dominique Johnson, a six-game starter at running back in 2021 who has made only four appearances this year while going through rehab, tore the ACL of his previously injured knee during practice last week and will miss the rest of the season. He rushed for 575 yards last year.

But starting corner Malik Chavis returned to practice after not making last week’s trip to Auburn while recovering from a head injury. Pittman said Chavis will compete for playing time with converted wide receiver Quincey McAdoo at corner.

“The Hogs are going to be a handful for us,” Freeze said. “When you’re playing an SEC roster with a Group of 5 school, it’s tough. It’s hard. You can’t hardly make any mistakes if you want to have any chance to be in it.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 8, 2022; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Brigham Young Cougars running back Christopher Brooks (2) runs with the ball against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during the second half at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Lucas Peltier-USA TODAY Sports

BYU, Arkansas look to rediscover winning ways

BYU and Arkansas, two teams that were among the Top 25 through the first quarter of the season, will look to get back on track when they square off on Saturday in Provo, Utah.

It’s the first-ever meeting for the two programs.

The Cougars (4-2) return home after a 28-20 loss to Notre Dame last Saturday in Las Vegas in which they managed just 280 yards of offense. The setback snapped BYU’s two-game winning streak and dropped them out of the Top 25.

BYU trailed by 19 points early in the second half and worked its way back into contention. The game was still in reach for the Cougars late, but they failed to convert a fourth down with 3:37 to play and Notre Dame was able to run out the clock, exploiting a weary BYU defense that was on the field for nearly 41 minutes and surrendered 496 yards.

“How many plays did we have total? 46?” BYU coach Kalani Sitake said. “That’s not going to do it. Part of that is defense, get off the field. And offense, get first downs and keep drives going. Just getting more efficient football from our team. … Be balanced. run the ball, throw the ball. That’s what we should be doing.”

The Cougars are facing a team from the Southeastern Conference for just the 11th time. BYU is 4-6 versus the SEC in program history.

Arkansas (3-3, 1-3 SEC) will look to regain some of its early-season swagger after a 40-17 loss at Mississippi State last week. The Razorbacks have dropped three straight games and fallen out of the AP poll after cresting at 10th in the rankings following their third game.

The Razorbacks are beat up and trying to play through a rough stretch. Quarterback KJ Jefferson, who had started 18 consecutive games, was held out against Mississippi State after taking a hit to the head in the loss to Alabama on Oct. 1.

Nickel back Myles Slusher also missed last week’s game, further depleting a secondary that has lost Jalen Catalon and LaDarrius Bishop for the season.

“We need a bye week,” Arkansas coach Sam Pittman said. “We need to get healthy. But we don’t have that. We have BYU Saturday. We’ll go up there and when we get off the plane and get off the bus, we’ll believe we’re going to win.

“That’s just how it is. I’m not worried about the team.”

Pittman’s teams have never lost a nonconference game in his three seasons at Arkansas. They’ve gone 7-0 over that stretch; there were no nonconference games during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.

–Field Level Media

Oct 2, 2021; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA;  Alabama linebacker Drew Sanders (20) wraps up Ole Miss wide receiver Dontario Drummond (11) at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby-USA TODAY Sports

Former Alabama LB Drew Sanders transfers to Arkansas

Former Alabama linebacker Drew Sanders announced Sunday that he is transferring to Southeastern Conference rival Arkansas.

Sanders entered the transfer portal on Tuesday, one day after the Crimson Tide lost to Georgia in the College Football Playoff title game.

“I am excited to announce that I will continue my football career at the University of Arkansas!! Signed and ready to go to work!! #GoHogs,” Sanders said on Twitter.

Sanders had 24 tackles and one sack in 12 games for the Crimson Tide this season. Overall, he had 33 stops in 23 games over two seasons for Alabama.

Due to the 2020 free-eligibility season because of the coronavirus, he has three seasons of eligibility remaining.

Sanders will join an Arkansas linebacker group that includes star Bumper Pool, who was a second-team All-SEC performer in 2021.

–Field Level Media

Oct 31, 2020; College Station, TX, USA; Texas A&M running back Isaiah Spiller (28) rushes for a touchdown against Arkansas linebacker Grant Morgan (31) during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020, in College Station, Texas. Mandatory Credit: Sam Craft/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

No. 7 Texas A&M meets No. 16 Arkansas in clash of unbeatens

Seventh-ranked Texas A&M opens SEC play against upstart No. 16 Arkansas at A&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Saturday.

The two teams square off for the 10th time since Texas A&M (3-0, 0-0 SEC) became a member of the SEC in 2012. The Aggies are 9-0 in those contests, including a 42-31 victory over the Razorbacks (3-0, 0-0) last season.

However, Arkansas is 41-33-3 all-time in 77 games against the Aggies.

Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher expects a competitive Arkansas squad this week.

“They have a very experienced team,” Fisher said. “They don’t have a young team. This group has a lot of fourth-, fifth- and sixth-year guys on their team. And they’re playing probably as well as anybody in the country.”

Arkansas rolled up 633 total yards in a 45-10 victory over Georgia Southern last week, the eighth-best mark in program history. The Razorbacks are one of only five teams in the country to total 240 or more rushing yards in every game this season.

Quarterback K.J. Jefferson finished with 366 passing yards and three touchdowns in the win over Georgia Southern. Dominique Johnson rushed for a team-high 72 yards and a touchdown on five carries as Arkansas totaled 269 yards on the ground.

“We’re just rolling right now,” said Arkansas receiver Treylon Burks, who had a 91-yard TD reception in the win. “We’re not worried about us being ranked. We’re 3-0, and that’s good. But we still want to play like we’ve always played, a blue-collar team with a chip on our shoulder, and just keep playing ball like we know how.”

The Razorbacks will be hard-pressed to put up similar numbers on Saturday against a Texas A&M defense holding opponents to 240 total yards a contest and 4.1 rushing yards per carry.

“They have a smothering defense,” Arkansas head coach Sam Pittman said. “A very, very good defense in all front end, middle and back end. Their offense is loaded with skill players. … They have a lot of talent, and we’re excited to go down to Dallas to play this game. Hopefully, we can get healthy, and be able to go down there and put a good showing on.”

Last week, Texas A&M shut out visiting New Mexico 34-0. The Aggies are riding an 11-game winning streak — their longest win streak since 1992 and the school’s best start since opening 6-0 in 2016.

Quarterback Zach Calzada threw for 275 yards and three touchdowns in the win. Calzada completed 19 of 33 passes with one interception in his first career start for the Aggies.

Running back Isaiah Spiller is Texas A&M’s top playmakers with 250 rushing yards, 80 receiving yards and two total touchdowns in three games.

The 6-foot-1, 215-pound junior has 2,232 career rushing yards and 21 total touchdowns.

Sophomore Devon Achane has joined Spiller to provide a nice 1-2 punch for Texas A&M in the backfield, with 203 rushing yards and three total touchdowns so far this season.

Fisher creating running lanes for playmakers like Spiller and Achane will be one of the keys to the game for Texas A&M.

“You’ve got to create space,” Fisher said. “(Creating) space is an easy thing to say, but a hard thing to do. So we’re going to have to create space. You either do it through creativity or physicality. You can do it also with their ability to make people miss — there are a lot of ways.

“You get Spiller, Achane and all of those guys in space, usually good things happen.”

–Field Level Media

Nov 7, 2020; Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA; Tennessee Volunteers quarterback Jarrett Guarantano (2) runs the ball as Arkansas Razorbacks linebacker Zach Williams (56) defends in the first quarter at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Franks rallies Razorbacks to 24-13 win over Vols

Feleipe Franks fired three third-quarter touchdown passes Saturday night and Arkansas’ defense limited punchless Tennessee to one first down for the second half’s first 28 1/2 minutes as it rallied for a 24-13 Southeastern Conference win in Fayetteville, Ark.

Franks, who beat the Volunteers the last two years as Florida’s starting quarterback before transferring, completed 18 of 24 passes for 215 yards as the Razorbacks squared their record at 3-3 by erasing a 13-0 halftime deficit.

Meanwhile, the Volunteers (2-4) dropped their fourth straight game after being ranked 14th last month. They cycled through three quarterbacks, losing starter Jarrett Guarantano to a head injury midway through the third quarter.

Guarantano hit on 5 of 8 passes for 42 yards as Tennessee relied heavily on the run. Backups Brian Maurer and Harrison Bailey combined to go 6 for 13 with two interceptions. Bailey tossed a tipped-ball pick to Eric Gregory with 4:32 left in the game at the Arkansas 23 that flushed the Volunteers’ last chance to rally.

The Volunteers controlled the first half behind their interior lines. Tennessee was able to run the ball and frustrate Franks with an attacking front seven that finished the night with four sacks and nine tackles for loss.

Brent Cimaglia converted field goals of 50 and 48 yards in the half, while workhorse running back Eric Gray scored on a 1-yard run. Gray shouldered most of the offensive load, rushing 31 times for 123 yards.

The second half was all Franks, starting with his 1-yard touchdown pass to Mike Woods that capped a 17-play, 75-yard drive. A 6-yard scoring strike to Blake Kern at the 6:35 mark gave the Razorbacks the lead for good, and Franks made it 21-13 when he connected with Treylon Burks for a 59-yard touchdown.

AJ Reed finished the third quarter outburst with a 48-yard field goal with seven seconds remaining.

Arkansas’ defense closed out the game in style, getting an end zone interception from Jalen Catalon on the game’s final play.

–Field Level Media