LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — True freshman KJ Jefferson got his first start against LSU, but suffered a concussion in the first half of that game.
Jefferson wasn’t able to play against Missouri on Friday in Little Rock. Jack Lindsey, who came in for Jefferson in Baton Rouge and provided a spark, got the start against the Tigers.
The Missouri game didn’t go as well for Lindsey though it wasn’t the only thing that went wrong in a 24-14 loss. He completed 10 of 26 passes for 75 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed four times for 50 yards. Some of his incompletions were drops.
Barry Lunney Jr., Arkansas’ interim coach, explained that it wasn’t a difficult decision to start Lindsey.
“KJ’s out, concussion,” Lunney said. “Nick (Starkel), early in the week he was being evaluated for it too. I felt like it was important to get somebody some reps and be stable. He had flashed in the last part of the game. You always have to be careful about making assessments like that off of clean-up time. But Jack had been steady. Honestly, we’d had other guys who had opportunities as well.”
Lunney correctly pointed out the inconsistency that resulted in five different quarterbacks starting this season, and three different ones in 2018, was part of the problem and extended far beyond one game.
“I think really at the end of the day, that’s a reflection on that fact we’re not a great football team right now,” Lunney said. “I mean obviously when you’re struggling to win games like we have that’s the markings of not a great football team. Usually your quarterback position suffers for that to a large degree. But they’ve contributed to that as well. We’ve had a very up and down year at that position and it’s been a microcosm of our football team.
“So I think it was an easy decision to go with Jack and I thought he battled. I thought he battled hard. And I thought he looked at times like a guy making his first start. But you could see he never really got rattled by it, and even late he was staying in there and trying to make plays and competed. So I was proud of him.”
The lack of stability at the position helped result in another 2-10 season for Arkansas.
“Well, yeah, I think it’s a good point,” Lunney said. “I think it’s just been a strange year in that regard. It’s not how you draw it up. I think what you see is you probably see is us trying to look for answers, just mix it up, change it up and there’s just never been a clear-cut answer in that regard and it’s been a little bit oc a challenge. Stability, just in general, is what’s needed rigid now, especially in that position.”
Lunney was asked if he felt Lindsey played better than the numbers indicated?
“Yeah, I think he probably did,” Lunney said. “I think he scrapped around and did the best that he could possibly do under the circumstances. I thought he fought and hung in there and I’m sure there will be some things that he would like to do over when watching the film, but that’s the same thing for everybody that plays the position, no matter if you’re playing on Fridays, Saturdays or Sundays.”
Lindsey was hit pretty hard at the end of a eight-yard run by Missouri’s Jarvis Ware at the Arkansas 49 with 6:43 remaining in the game. Some in the stadium thought it was targeting and it proved to be Lindsey’s last series though he did stay in for five more plays following a timeout. Lunney was asked if he got an explanation concerning the hit?
They said that they looked at it and it was not led with the, I don’t even remember what he told me,” Lunney said. “It’s one of those deals at this point, guys, when you got all these people looking at it, replay and they look at it and review and all this.
“If they say he didn’t do it, then I’m just one of those people that say, ‘Okay. Then they must have seen that he didn’t do it.’ Nobody’s intentionally trying to mess anything up up there. They have jobs to do, too, and if that’s what they said, then so be it.”
Lindsey is a junior who was awarded a scholarship prior to the season.