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KJ May Not Have Burks, But Everybody Confident

With KJ Jefferson clearly the starter against Rice, coaches and teammates confident ... at least now.

Treylon Burks' status is still up in the air, but Arkansas coaches and players are not shy about expressing confidence quarterback KJ Jefferson can carry the load.

Saturday's opener against Rice will be Jefferson's third start in three years but this one is very different.

He got caught up in the Chad Morris Quarterback Roulette in 2019, ended up starting on the road against LSU and didn't finish the game. In the final game last year against Missouri he started when Feleipe Franks was a game time decision was made he couldn't play because of injury.

The previous staff started eight quarterbacks over two seasons. Sam Pittman seems pretty solid he doesn't want all of that drama.

"Any time you start a new quarterback it's his team," he said Monday. "It's a different team than what it was with Feleipe. KJ obviously has different assets than what Feleipe did.

"If we're looking in the future for a quarterback that runs this type offense, a guy like KJ, a guy like Malik is what we're looking for."

That means, simply, he wants an offense that is more dynamic than what they've had in the past. In other words, he wants a quarterback that can avoid bad plays and make some big plays along the way.

"I feel very confident we've got the guys in there that can make plays," Pittman said.

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In this day and age of college football, it starts with the quarterback. Just having a guy that hands off and makes an occasional pass won't cut it anymore.

To win big, quarterbacks have to make big plays.

Jefferson's teammates are completely confident in their public comments about him the past few weeks.

"He’s approached every day as if it were a game day," left tackle Myron Cunningham said Tuesday. "You can tell from out there at practice."

There is also confidence any absence from Burks won't completely de-rail the offense.

"We’ve got a lot of depth at receiver," Cunningham said. "We’ve got Trey Knox, Warren Thompson, JD White. A young guy, Ketron Jackson. I think he’s got a lot of options when it comes to wide receivers. So I don’t think it’ll be a problem."

The whole problem with all of this is there's a lot of confidence and hope the young guys can step up and the quarterback role is not going to be a problem.

And we won't know how that works out until Saturday afternoon.