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Hogs' Burks bounces back in big way after LSU game

by Bob Holt | November 21, 2021 at 2:52 a.m.

After LSU held down Treylon Burks last week, the University of Arkansas' star receiver bounced back in a major way against No. 2 Alabama on Saturday.

Burks had 8 catches for 179 yards and 2 touchdowns as the Razorbacks pushed the Crimson Tide to the limit before Alabama held on to win 42-35 at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

The previous week when Arkansas won 16-13 in overtime at LSU, Burks had four catches for 16 yards as the Razorbacks struggled to make the necessary blocks against the Tigers' blitzing defense.

"I think a lot of it has to do with we had more time to get him the ball," Arkansas Coach Sam Pittman said Burks' production against Alabama. "Last week the ball was coming out awfully fast."

The Razorbacks' offensive line afforded quarterback KJ Jefferson the time to complete 23 of 30 passes for 326 yards and 3 touchdowns.

"From an offensive line standpoint, they did a great job up front as far as pass pro," Jefferson said. "I had a lot of time back there in the pocket."

Jefferson threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Burks to cap a 96-yard drive in the first quarter that pulled Arkansas within 10-7, then they had a 66-yard touchdown play in the third quarter that cut Alabama's lead to 31-21 after it seemed the Tide might have taken control of the game.

Burks became the third Alabama opposing player since 2000 to have at least 150 yards and two touchdown receptions, joining Ole Miss' Kenny Yeboah (181 yards and 2 touchdowns in 2020) and Auburn's Sammie Coates (206 yards and 2 touchdowns in 2014).

"Treylon had a great game today," Jefferson said. "We both got in the film room and looked at the stuff we can correct.

"Just me and him, one-on-one, on stuff we could do to help the offense move the ball down the field. Today I just gave him a chance, and he made plays."

On the 66-yard touchdown, Burks caught the ball at the 50, then ran to the end zone with five Alabama defensive backs in pursuit.

Burks was credited with 96 yards after the catch Saturday by stats broadcast.

"It wasn't only the catch tonight, but what he did after the catch," Pittman said. "I thought him and KJ worked together really well."

The chemistry between Jefferson and Burks goes back to Arkansas' 50-48 loss at Missouri last season. Jefferson started in place of injured Feleipe Franks and passed for 274 yards. Burks had 10 catches for 206 yards and 1 touchdown.

"They're very, very close friends, and I think both of them trust each other," Pittman said. "And that's a good thing for the Hogs."

Burks, a junior from Warren, and Jefferson, a redshirt sophomore, came to Arkansas together in 2019.

With Jefferson taking over as the starter this season, Burks has 59 receptions for 975 yards and 10 touchdowns.

"We room together," Jefferson said. "We came in together. Stayed together.

"Just knowing that chemistry that we have, and that close-knit bond that we have, on the field we're always thinking the same thing. That's a motivation, a boost and an advantage."

Burks had his fifth this season with more than 100 receiving yards, which is tied for the most in a season in Arkansas history with Anthony Lucas (1998) and Anthony Eubanks (1997).

"I expect him to have a great game every game because he's a one-of-a-kind player," Arkansas senior linebacker Grant Morgan said of Burks. "He's just a guy where you're throwing him the ball, you know the play's for him, you know he's going to go do his job and get it."

Burks was taken to the locker room in the first half, but returned on the next series and played the entire second half.

"I think he's probably beat up, but he just kept coming back," Pittman said. "He won a lot of one-on-one matchups, and KJ got the ball to him.

"He's a tough, great player, but a better person. I'll tell you what, he had a heck of a game tonight."


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