While the 2022 season has yet to be played, it’s not too early to ponder about 2023. Many believe Arkansas QB KJ Jefferson will likely leave school after 2022 if he has a good season. What does the Arkansas QB situation look like behind Jefferson? And who are Pittman and Briles likely to start next season?
Arkansas QB Malik Hornsby:
Malik Hornsby is a redshirt sophomore from Missouri City, Texas. Razorback fans got to see Hornsby play at times last year when Jefferson was hurt. The first thing that stands out about Hornsby is his straight-line speed. Hornsby has impeccable athleticism for a QB, and often uses it to his advantage on the field. Arkansas has ran a lot of run pass options and read options with Hornsby in. This allows his running threat to put pressure on the defense on every snap.
Hornsby has had few attempts in the passing game. He’s completed 5 of 12 balls in limited snaps. In Arkansas’ spring game, Hornsby struggled with accuracy downfield. In Kendal Briles’ offense, being able to take vertical shots is important because it clears the box for the run. It also allows defenses to key in on RPOs and the short passing game. Last season, QB KJ Jefferson was very effective due in part to his deep ball accuracy. If Hornsby wants to be guaranteed a starting spot in 2023, he must improve his accuracy 20+ yards out.
Arkansas QB Kade Renfro:
Kade Renfro is a redshirt sophomore who transferred into the program last season after spending a year at Ole Miss. Renfro has not played any snaps at QB in college thus far.
According to 247 analyst Gabe Brooks, Renfro possesses the ability to drive the ball down the seams and to the perimeter. Brooks goes on to say that Renfro could get a quicker release and learn to throw more accurately off platform.
Renfro will likely not be able to stretch the defense out horizontally, as he does not have the speed of Hornsby or Jefferson. If he were to start, there would be less RPOs/read options and more vertical attack. The plan will be similar to Feliepe Franks’ in year 1.
However, Renfro did not even take third team snaps in Arkansas’ spring game. It seems like Renfro is behind KJ Jefferson, Malik Hornsby, and Cade Fortin at the moment. This could indicate that his development is growing slower than what the Arkansas coaches had wished for.
If neither Hornsby or Renfro improve on their weaknesses, Arkansas could try to pick up a transfer QB in the portal. Pittman and Briles picked up former Florida QB Feleipe Franks in their first year coaching the Razorbacks. There’s no reason why they can’t pick up a good QB transfer again. Pittman has shown that he’s able to pick-up desired players in the transfer portal. This year he got LB Drew Sanders from Texas and Oklahoma. While it’s too early to know who the likely candidates are for this position, it’s certainly not out of the possibility for next year.
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