Arkansas Razorbacks quarterback KJ Jefferson (1) rushes for a touchdown during the second half against the Florida Gators at Steve Spurrier Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL on Saturday, November 4, 2023. [Matt Pendleton/Gainesville Sun]

Arkansas Looking to Bounce Back against FIU

The Arkansas Razorbacks (3-7, 1-6) are looking to bounce back this week as they host the Florida International Panthers (4-6, 1-6) at 7:30 Saturday night. Arkansas lost 48-10 against Auburn last week, and Florida International lost 40-6 to Middle Tennessee.

Arkansas Bright Spots

Arkansas has had a few bright spots on the offensive side of the ball. Despite having a 3-7 record, quarterback KJ Jefferson has put together a good season. Jefferson has thrown for 1,918 yards with a 65% completion percentage. Jefferson has thrown 16 touchdowns along with eight interceptions. He has also rushed for 342 yards and two touchdowns.

His favorite target to throw to has been senior wide receiver Andrew Armstrong. He has 48 catches for 657 yards and four touchdowns.

On the other side of the ball, tackle Landon Jackson and linebacker Jaheim Thomas headline the defense. Jackson leads the team with 5.5 sacks on the season, and Thomas leads the team in tackles with 87.

Razorbacks’ Injury Bug

When healthy, running back Raheim Sanders is one of Arkansas’ best players. Coming off a stellar 2022 campaign, in which he rushed for 1,443 yards and 10 touchdowns, his 2023 campaign has not been what he would have hoped for.

Sanders has only appeared in five games this season due to a knee injury, and he has only rushed for 194 yards and two touchdowns as a result. Although he will be suiting up Saturday, his season has been derailed by injury.

FIU Players to Watch

On offense, Florida International relies on quarterback Keyone Jenkins, running back Shomari Lawrence and wide receiver Kris Mitchell. Jenkins has thrown for 1,908 yards with six touchdowns and seven interceptions. Lawrence has 117 carries for 522 yards and four touchdowns. Kris Mitchell has put together a solid season receiving. He has 50 catches for 845 yards and six touchdowns.

Defensively for the Panthers, linebackers Donovan Manuel and Alex Nobles both lead the defense in important categories. Manuel leads the team in tackles with 99, and Nobles leads them in sacks with 3.5 on the season.

A Defensive Showdown

This game should be a defensive showdown, with both teams being ranked low offensively. Florida International comes into this game ranked 111th offensively, and Arkansas comes in ranked at 113th. However, Florida International comes in ranked 116th in total defense, and Arkansas ranks at 49th. If the offensive attack for Arkansas can be potent, it should not have trouble against Florida International’s defense.

For Florida International to win this game, the Panthers will have to play exceptional on both sides of the ball. They will have to contain KJ Jefferson in the air and on the ground.

Kickoff is set for 7:30 Saturday night at Razorback Stadium.

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