Notes from the opponent: What to expect in SEC country

Matthew Boncosky, Sports Reporter

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared as part of the September 10 Double Coverage flipbook.

The Daily Texan spoke with Mason Choate, sports editor of The Arkansas Traveler, ahead of the Longhorns’ trip to Arkansas on Saturday.

The Daily Texan: With this being the latest chance to renew an old Southwest Conference rivalry between Arkansas and Texas, what emotions are brewing on campus?

Mason Choate: This is probably the biggest game for Arkansas football in a long time … It’s going to be packed. It’ll be the first sellout since they finished the renovation on Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium, so I really think that it will probably break the attendance record in that stadium all time.

DT: What do Arkansas students and fans think of Texas joining the SEC and the chance for both programs to play one another on a more regular basis?

MC: To be honest, for me, growing up the big rival for Arkansas was always LSU, and that’s the case for every student right now. So, we don’t really understand the Texas hate, but we want to … It’s definitely going to be the number one rivalry on the schedule no matter what. It’ll no longer be LSU, Missouri, Texas A&M, Ole Miss …  it’ll be Arkansas-Texas. That’s the game we’ll circle every year.

DT: What about the trio of linebackers in Bumper Pool, Grant Morgan and safety Jalen Catalon that makes the middle of the Arkansas defense so challenging to attack?

MC: Grant Morgan was number one and Bumper Pool was number two in tackles in the SEC (last year). They are really good at finding their way to the football. Neither one of them are just crazy, athletic guys who are going to drop back in man coverage and stick with their guy, but you’re not going to be able to get much past them … (Catalon) has a nose for the football better than anything I’ve seen from a Razorback. He’s the definition of a ball-hawking safety, and you will hear his name called a lot on Saturday.

DT: Arkansas is led under center by redshirt sophomore KJ Jefferson. What style of play and skills does he bring to the table?

MC: We haven’t seen a whole lot of him as a starting quarterback for Arkansas aside from last year against Missouri and then against Rice, and from those two games, what I can take away is (that) he has the arm strength to get the job done … Accuracy is what he needs to work on. It honestly just wasn’t good against Rice. He was missing guys on slants and throwing the ball two feet above their head, which, I think it was just jitters but we’ll see if it was either that or his accuracy just isn’t there. As far as running the ball, he’s like a tight end, wide receiver combo playing quarterback.

DT: What would a win against Texas mean to head coach Sam Pittman’s program?

MC: This fanbase has been talking about the Texas game since it was scheduled. Everybody looked past Rice. Nobody’s looking past Texas. I think if Arkansas beats Texas, then that confirms to you, at least for the time being, that (head coach) Sam Pittman was the right hire and that this football team is not the mediocre football team that people keep labeling them as … This is a football team that, if they truly believe they can win a game, they will do so.