FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — The talk all week was how bad Arkansas would beat San Jose State.
It will never be known if Arkansas was looking past San Jose State to its game against Texas A&M next Saturday, but one thing is obvious this team isn’t good enough to look past anyone. Chad Morris basically had the same message after the game.
“I was a little concerned in pre-game warmups to be honest with you,” Morris said. “I thought we were a little too loose. I thought it was a little too giddy. And I made comment of that. We’re not good enough. We’re not good enough to be able come out and just walk out on the field with a Razorback logo on your helmet and expect you’re going to win. You’ve got to show up and play and we didn’t show up and play, in no phase of it. We punted the ball halfway decent tonight. My goodness.
“I love the fight. We come back and tie the game and here we go. I really thought, as bad as we played we’re fixing to win this football game. And we couldn’t finish it.”
Arkansas trailed 24-7 at intermission, but then fought back to score the first 17 points of the second half to tie the game with an eight-yard pass from Nick Starkel to Trey Knox with 2:56 remaining. Starkel had also thrown a 30-yard touchdown pass to Tyson Morris with 13:10 remaining in the game.
In the first half, Starkel threw a 62-yard touchdown pass to Mike Woods. Starkel finished the game 28 of 50 for 356 yards and three touchdowns, but it was five interceptions that haunted him on the night.
“I felt like I tried to force the ball a little bit,” Starkel said. “Definitely wasn’t just taking what the defense is giving us. It was just bad quarterback play. And I feel like I let everybody down and I let my teammates down, my brothers, my family, these coaches that worked so hard to prepare us, get us in the right calls. I just let them down.”
Starkel was asked if he felt he was ready to play?
“Personally, I felt like I was ready for the game, but I understand,” Starkel said. “He came up and he talked to us and he said that there were a couple of guys that were just messing around, might not have been ready to play and he tried to put us into check. Obviously, San Jose State, they were ready to play and they showed up from the first snap.”
San Jose State had lost at home to Tulsa 34-16 just two week’s ago. Morris gave them credit for being the better team though on this night in Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
“They out-played us, they out-coached us and I was very disappointed in the effort we got tonight,” Morris said. “For three quarters they were the SEC football team. They took it to us. From the very first play they had us on our heels. Very disappointed. Extremely disappointing.”
San Jose State piled up 503 yards of total offense against the Hogs including 402 through the air. Josh Love was 32 of 49 with one interception and a pair of touchdown passes.
“You get what you deserve in life and we didn’t deserve to win this football game,” Morris said. “We had five turnovers and you allow a guy to throw for over 400 yards on you and go down the field on you like nothing. Missed tackles. Unacceptable. Completely unacceptable.”
When Arkansas tied the game at 24 with 2:56 remaining it only took San Jose State five plays to go 75 yards to get the game winner on a 19-yard run by DeJon Packer 1:13 remaining in the game. San Jose State coach Brent Brennan was elated for his players following the win.
“What a night,” Brennan said. “What a night for these players, these coaches and for our fans. Obviously when you look at the schedule, it is one of those games that everybody talks about. Sometimes it is hard to get your team to focus on anything else because you are going on the road to play an SEC opponent like Arkansas is with the history of this program, how special this place is, the stadium, the crowd and all that stuff.
“Coming off a loss two weeks ago, our team just went to work. We practiced during the bye week a lot. I am sure they didn’t like that, but now they understand why. I am just really proud of them because this is a team, I am on my third season, and it has been two really hard years.
“To see them rise the occasion, stay together and keep believing. Arkansas makes a run late and we didn’t fold, we actually bowed up.”
Morris talked about what he saw on that final drive by the Spartans.
“I thought they made some really good throws and I thought they made some great catches on some back shoulder balls,” Morris said. “I did. I thought we did a decent job in the second half. We can’t wait until the second half to decide we want to play solid defense.
“But the guy made some plays. They didn’t turn the ball over but one time. You turn it over five times, you don’t deserve to win those things. Those guys, give them credit, they found a way to drive down the field on us and they made some plays. We weren’t there to make them.”
Morris thought the Hogs still had a chance to drive down the field in the final minute and force overtime. But Starkel’s fifth interception of the night put the final nail in Arkansas’ hopes.
“I thought — we work two-minute offense every week,” Morris said. “I thought we had one timeout, 1:13, we’ve done this every week before. Let’s go.
“I thought that we underthrew Mike. I thought Mike was open. We had an opportunity. We knew they were going to be rushing three, dropping eight. We had to found the holes in there. We had a chance to get the ball over the top. But we just didn’t. We just didn’t make it happen.”
Arkansas will face Texas A&M at 11 a.m. on Saturday in AT&T Stadium in Arlington. The Aggies lost to Auburn on Saturday to fall to 2-2 on the season. How does Arkansas recover though from this embarrassing loss?
“Well, we’re going to find out,” Morris said. “We’re going to find out. It’s a gut check time now. It’s a gut check. It’s accountability. It’s — we’re going to find out a lot about ourself this week.”
Arkansas will also bring a 2-2 record into the A&M game.