Arkansas Football: Report card for upset loss to Liberty

In the pregame social media article, I expressed how much I thought this game was trap for the Razorbacks.

And it was. 

Coming off a two-game winning streak and going against an opponent that also had some motivation, whether it be to prove their coach, Hugh Freeze, can still coach in the SEC or just prove they are a good team in college football right now. 

No matter the motivation, Liberty exposed the Hogs on their way to 21-19 victory

This was the worst loss of the Sam Pittman era at Arkansas and it could stir up some questions about his job security. Let’s give out some grades and hope there are no Fs.

Arkansas Quarterback

Nov 5, 2022; Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks quarterback KJ Jefferson (1) passes in the second quarter against the Liberty Flames at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

It was an ugly day for K.J. Jefferson, throwing two interceptions. The offense was stagnant until the fourth but it was too late. Jefferson coming up short on the 2-point conversation sums up the type of day it was.

Grade: C-

Arkansas running backs

Nov 5, 2022; Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA; Liberty Flames defensive tackle Khristian Zachary (77) tackles Arkansas Razorbacks running back Raheim Sanders (5) in the first quarter against the at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

The running backs had a below-average day and didn’t have much of an impact on the game. AJ Green looked the most impressive but not enough to establish a run game for the Hogs. 

Grade: C 

Arkansas receivers and tight end

FAYETTEVILLE, ARKANSAS – SEPTEMBER 03: Trey Knox #7 of the Arkansas Razorbacks runs a pass in for a touchdown in the fourth quarter of a game against the Cincinnati Bearcats at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium on September 03, 2022 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The Razorbacks defeated the Bearcats 31-24. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

The receivers made plays but they came sporadically. At times they struggled to get open until it was too late. 

Grade: C 

Arkansas offensive line

Sep 24, 2022; Arlington, Texas, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks offensive lineman Ricky Stromberg (51) signals during the second quarter against the Texas A&M Aggies at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Dieb-USA TODAY Sports

This was their worst performance as a group all season giving up four sacks and 14 tackles for loss.

Grade: D 

Arkansas defensive line

Nov 5, 2022; Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks defensive lineman Landon Jackson (40) and defensive back Hudson Clark (17) tackle Liberty Flames quarterback Johnathan Bennett (11) during the first quarter at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

They didn’t have a bad game, but they could have had a better game. While they played anchor to stopping Liberty’s rushing attack, the defense still gave up too many points. 

Grade: C+

Arkansas linebackers

Arkansas linebacker Bumper Pool (10) against South Carolina during an NCAA football game on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, in Fayetteville, Ark. (AP Photo/Michael Woods)

Bumper Pool and Drew Sanders played outstanding combining for 17 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, and two sacks.

Grade: B

Arkansas secondary

Arkansas defensive back Latavious Brini (7) against South Carolina during an NCAA football game on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, in Fayetteville, Ark. (AP Photo/Michael Woods)

An interception came in the fourth quarter but the secondary allowed a quarterback who didn’t practice all week throw three touchdowns and be named the player of the game. 

Grade: C-

Arkansas special teams

Sep 24, 2022; Arlington, Texas, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks place kicker Cam Little (29) attempts a go ahead field goal as punter Reid Bauer (30) holds the ball during the fourth quarter against the Texas A&M Aggies at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The special teams blocked a punt which led to a safety and started the fourth quarter come back attempt. 

Grade: B+ 

Arkansas coaching staff

Nov 5, 2022; Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA; Liberty Flames head coach Hugh Freeze talks to Arkansas Razorbacks head coach Sam Pittman prior to the game at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Arkansas simply was not ready to play against Liberty. And while the coaching staff made adjustments, it was too little, too late.

Grade: D

Story originally appeared on Razorbacks Wire