Sam Pittman Praises KJ Jefferson as Starting Quarterback

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FAYETTEVILLE — Sam Pittman met with media on Monday as Texas Week has arrived in Fayetteville.

Pittman also took the opportunity to praise redshirt sophomore quarterback KJ Jefferson for the job he did on second, particularly the second half. Pittman was asked if the intention was to also play Malik Hornsby some?

“Your intentions are always your intentions before the game starts and then when the game starts like it did for us, especially offensively, you’re trying to fix your starter and you’re trying to fix your starters,” Pittman said. “I want to say this: I think KJ probably took a lot of heat this week. Everybody’s got their opinion. But the one that really matters is mine. He’s our quarterback and he’s going to be a heck of a quarterback for us. You can’t erase what’s happened. We can’t erase that we didn’t have a good first half, but you also probably need to talk about that the kid played well in the second half, too. He corrected it.

“Malik, I wouldn’t have one bit of problem playing Malik, to answer your question. I think he would give us something different, a little bit, because of his speed, but he can also throw the ball. We just got caught up in a bad first half. We were just trying to fix it the entire first half and obviously after halftime.”

In the first half Jefferson had some passes sail on him. Is that something that concerns Pittman?

“I wasn’t too concerned about the balls that sailed,” Pittman said. “Now, he’s been high. If he has problems, it’s high. But I was watching some tape on some high school kids that are four- and five-stars and all, and they miss plays, too. I’ve seen Dan Marino miss a pass, you know what I mean?

“I don’t want to make a mountain out of a mole hill there. The disappointing thing, honestly, was both in the first half. One with KJ where he was outside the pocket. Just throw the ball away, and we threw a pick there. That right there was stress. That came from not having early success, and I’m trying to make a miracle happen out there. I think he would throw it away 9 times out of 10. I think he was pressing at that point. And then the very play of the game he’s outside of the pocket. Just throw the ball away .

“And I know he wanted to hold it there. Part of that, too, is you never tackle him in practice. I think part of that was, ‘I can get it off.’ And those were real reps. I not real concerned about that, because I think as soon as he becomes a runner, I think he’s a better thrower. I do. I know that sounds silly, but I believe that. I believe it builds up his confidence.”

Pittman acknowledged the Hogs didn’t try the vertical passing game as much on Saturday as they probably will going forward. He talked about why they didn’t Saturday and the importance of it going forward.

“I think any time that you can have a threat vertically, you’re going to loosen everybody up,” Pittman said. “If you look at our game Saturday, I mean, we were three and out, three and out, three and out, three and out. And so you’re not going to throw a lot of deep balls. You know what I mean? You’re trying to figure how we can stay on the field, keep our defense off the field and get a first down. It probably wouldn’t be the most popular call at that time from KB to throw four verts. We’re trying to figure out how to stay on the field a little bit. Four verts is good if you catch it. If not, it’s second and 10 and no time’s off the clock. I think in the second half we did a better job of that. T-Mo (Tyson Morris) caught the first one. We did throw it deep and got it called back on a lineman downfield, which we certainly have taken a look at that. So I think you have to do that and we have capable guys that can do that as well and KJ can throw it. So we’ll work on those things. But I think we’ve got the right quarterback for us to win.”

Arkansas will return to the practice fields today.

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