30 September 2019 10:48
Arkansas quarterback Ben Hicks (6) walks off the field with coach Chad Morris following the Razorbacks' 31-27 loss to Texas A&M on Saturday, Sept. ARLINGTON, Texas--The University of Arkansas has suffered back-to-back losses to San Jose State and Texas A&M, but the losses hardly look the same. Arkansas fought the No. 23 Aggies to the final seconds before Texas A&M got a fourth-down stop at its 19 to hang on for a 31-27 victory on Saturday at AT&T Stadium. The Aggies came into the game as 231/2-point favorites after the Razorbacks (2-3, 0-2 SEC) lost to San Jose State 31-24 at home the previous week. San Jose State came into its game at Arkansas as a 20-point underdog because of a 4-23 record since 2017, but the Spartans went home with their first victory over an SEC team in seven tries, along with a $1.5 million guarantee.
Instead of dwelling on the embarrassing loss, the Razorbacks played an inspired game against Texas A&M Coach Chad Morris said after the San Jose State game that he could sense in warmups that some of the Razorbacks were still "giddy" about their 55-34 victory over Colorado State. I think we have the same work ethic," Arkansas quarterback Ben Hicks said after the Texas A&M game when asked to explain how the Razorbacks could play so differently in back-to-back weeks. "I think after beating Colorado State we started reading our press clippings a little bit, and it came back to bite us in the butt against San Jose State. "But the guys responded extremely well this week. We had a great week of practice and really got after it." Hicks came off the bench to pass for 188 yards against Texas A&M after starting quarterback Nick Starkel was sidelined by an arm injury.
"You can appreciate the guys, how much they fought and how bad we wanted it," Hicks said. Arkansas lost its 13th consecutive SEC game and fell to 0-10 in conference games under Morris. "We knew it was going to be a four-quarter game, and that's what we ask for," Morris said. "We've got to find a way to win when you get down to the end like this. After the Razorbacks lost to San Jose State, Morris said how the team prepared for Texas A&M would be a gut-check for the coaches and players. "I thought that this was a pivotal week for our football team," Morris said. And so there was a lot of challenging going on this week among each other, challenging each other to really, really lock in and focus in and just do what we do." Morris said the Razorbacks were locked in all week. "We've got to continue to keep coaching hard and continue to put these young men in situations to be successful, and that's what we're going to do," Morris said. Senior tight end Cheyenne O'Grady, who had career highs of eight receptions and 91 yards, said the Razorbacks were highly motivated after their loss to San Jose State. "Everybody just sat down and said, 'That's enough, man. We've got to show everybody what we're capable of doing,' " O'Grady said. "Even after [challenging Texas A&M] there's a bunch of stuff we've got to fix, but we came out to play." Junior safety Kamren Curl, who had a career-high 12 tackles, said he believes the Razorbacks opened some eyes against Texas A&M to how good they can play. "We just have to keep going and show who we are every week," Curl said. "I feel like playing the way we did is going to help us win some games." Arkansas has an open date, then will resume SEC play at Kentucky (2-3, 0-3) on Oct. 12. The Wildcats, who lost 24-7 at South Carolina on Saturday night, also have an open date this week. "I know guys are going to be itching to get back out there and play Kentucky in a couple weeks," Hicks said. Morris said the open date comes at a good time after the grind of training camp and playing the first five games. "I think these guys need a mental break for just a couple of days and to step back physically," Morris said. "Let's get healthy as we go into playing [six] more conference games." ARLINGTON, Texas--The Arkansas Razorbacks get a week to regroup from their eighth consecutive loss to Texas A&M. The Razorbacks said after Saturday's 31-27 loss to the No. 23 Aggies that they can parlay their performance as 231/2-point underdogs into a stronger showing at Kentucky after an open date. "We're just hoping we can stay consistent like this," linebacker De'Jon Harris said. "The way we came out last week wasn't how we want to start things. Razorback fans were in a tizzy after the University of Arkansas lost 31-24 to San Jose State the week before. Arkansas looked like a rejuvenated team on both sides of the ball while outgaining the Aggies 395-340 in total offense. The week before, San Jose State piled up 503 yards to Arkansas' 487. Tight end Cheyenne O'Grady was asked how close the Razorbacks are to being able to close out tight games. "Inches away," O'Grady said. We came out to play and just let it slip, man." O'Grady said the pain has been real during every loss to the Aggies in Arkansas' eight-game losing streak in the series. "Going into the half, I thought it was going to be different this year," O'Grady said. "We played our hearts out, and it just didn't work out how we wanted it to." Kentucky (2-3, 0-3 SEC) also has an open date this week after its 24-7 loss at South Carolina. The Razorbacks took exception to a few officiating decisions in the loss to Texas A&M. One of them occurred on a play the Aggies were flagged for defensive offsides on Arkansas' final possession. Ben Hicks threw deep down the right sideline for Tyson Morris on the play, and it appeared a Texas A&M defensive back pushed Morris as the ball was arriving. "I thought we were going to get a call for PI [pass interference]," Hicks said. Whenever you get a free play you just give guys a chance, maybe a PI to pick up some more yardage." The pass was tipped and picked off in the end zone by defensive tackle Justin Madubuike after Boyd was floored, and Starkel was hurt making the tackle. Arkansas linebacker De'Jon Harris posted his first college touchdown in the second quarter. Harris scooped and scored a bungled handoff between Kellen Mond and tailback Isaiah Spiller that Arkansas defensive end Gabe Richardson pried free. "I mean, it swung the game," Harris said. That was a huge play at that moment in the game. Harris is the seventh Razorback to score his first college touchdown through the first five games. Kamren Curl and Koilan Jackson did it at Ole Miss in Week 2; Trey Knox, Chase Harrell and LaDarrius Bishop scored their first touchdowns against Colorado State; and Tyson Morris had his first against San Jose State. Texas A&M senior Justin Madubuike had a career first in the second quarter. His interception in the end zone on a tipped pass was not only the first of the defensive tackle's college career, it was his first ever. "Oh yeah, I've never had an interception in my life," Madubuike said. Madubuike was buddies with Arkansas quarterback Nick Starkel during their time together at Texas A&M, so he made it a point to chat with Starkel after the game. "I said, 'Hey, what's up man? That was a good, hard-fought game. Wish you the best,' " Madubuike said. The Razorbacks got a big contribution from freshman wideout Treylon Burks in his first game back from concussion protocol, but they had to play without freshman Trey Knox. Coach Chad Morris said Knox could not go due to the lingering hip injury he suffered in Week 2 at Ole Miss. Burks caught four passes for 58 yards, including a 31-yarder. He also had a 32-yard punt return that set up Arkansas' go-ahead 41-yard touchdown drive in the second quarter. Texas A&M's kicking game played a big role in the victory, with punter Braden Mann and kicker Seth Small both contributing in major ways. Mann had four punts for a 49.5-yard average, including a 59-yard effort in the third quarter. His punting helped keep the Razorbacks pinned back early in the second half, eventually paying off in a 49-yard go-ahead touchdown drive for the Aggies. Mann also had punts of 55 and 54 yards that offset a 30-yard pooch punt to the Arkansas 14 in the first half. Small, who struggled last week in a 28-20 home loss to Auburn, made his only field goal against the Razorbacks, a 50-yarder with 3:52 left in the game. Had Small missed that kick, the Razorbacks would have started their final possession at their 32 needing only a field goal to take the lead. "Seth Small, having that big kick after missing two kicks last week, to come back and hit a 50-yarder right there, that was huge," Texas A&M Coach Jimbo Fisher said. "A big-time play by a young man who had a tough week last week." Former Arkansas quarterback Ty Storey helped lead Western Kentucky to a 20-13 victory over Alabama-Birmingham on Saturday in his first start for the Hilltoppers. Storey went 15-of-24 passing for 189 yards and 2 touchdowns, though the offense generated only 234 yards. "I thought he did what I expected him to do being a veteran player," Western Kentucky Coach Tyson Helton said. "He managed the offense well, and I think he's got a lot of good football ahead of him." Players of the week The senior from Fayetteville had a game-high eight receptions for 91 yards. O'Grady had a 27-yard grab early in the second quarter, and a 23-yard catch on a touchdown drive in the third quarter. The senior from Harvey, La., had a team-high five solo tackles and six total stops. Harris also recovered a fumble forced by Gabe Richardson and returned it 6 yards for a touchdown.