Hogs Want To Avoid Repeat of Kicking Debacle

FAYETTEVILLE — Jeremy Davis won't soon forget the kicking debacle that took place when Arkansas hosted Alabama on Sept. 23, 2006.

After all, it was a critical game that would eventually determine the winner of the Southeastern Conference's western division.

It was also the day that Davis would make his first career field goal, miss an extra-point attempt and then get another chance to win the game after Alabama kicker Leigh Tiffin suffered a complete meltdown down the stretch.

"It was something that I never want to relive," Davis said last week. "But then also at the end of the game, it's something that I'll never forget for the rest of my life."

An announced crowd of 74,687 sat in Reynolds Razorback Stadium nearly a year ago and watched as Davis and Tiffin hooked their kicks wide right and made extra-point attempts look anything but routine.

Tiffin missed three field goals and an extra point. Davis missed an extra point.

In the end, though, Davis redeemed himself by kicking an extra point in double overtime to give Arkansas the 24-23 win.

He was so excited, considering all the kicking woes that had occurred that afternoon, that he immediately jumped into the arms of holder/punter Jacob Skinner.

"That was one of the biggest kicks of my career," Davis said. "Anytime you've got a chance to win the game, whether it be PAT or a field goal, you want to make it."

Now fast-forward one year.

No. 16 Arkansas and Alabama will meet Saturday night in another big SEC showdown, this time in Tuscaloosa. And there is a chance that the game could again come down to a last-second field goal or extra-point attempt.

Tiffin is still Alabama's kicker. But Arkansas' coaches feel more confident with their kicking situation now that former Springdale High star Alex Tejada has replaced Davis as the starter.

"There is no question we feel better with Alex. We're not afraid to say that," Arkansas special teams coach James Shibest said. "He's went from having a great camp to having a great first game and now we've got to go on the road."

Tejada is surprisingly poised for a true freshman, and he looked cool and calm in his college debut against Troy University on Sept. 1.

He connected on field goals of 35, 23, 28 and 30 yards, and he made 4-of-5 extra-point attempts in the 46-26 win in Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

"The first time I went out there, I was real calm. I didn't think about it," Tejada said. "It was just kind of like practice, just a few extra people out in the stands."

Actually, it was 73,926 extra people in the stands. But Tejada doesn't seem to be bothered by the noise or the pressure.

He said he's kicked only one game-winning field goal in his life, a 45-yarder that helped Springdale High pull out a 24-21 win over Jefferson City (Mo.) during his senior season.

But he said he wouldn't have a problem if another high-pressure kick was needed Saturday to beat Alabama.

"You've just got to be laid back. You've got to stay focused at all times," said Tejada, who watched last year's Arkansas-Alabama game on TV.

"You've just got to go out there relaxed, and you've just got to go out there and do your job."

Shibest said he has no doubt that Tejada will come through in the clutch — whenever it's needed.

"There is going to be one (kick) this year or here soon where the game is going to be on the line," Shibest said. "So we've got to see how we react to that.

"There is no question that he should be as confident as can be in that situation."



SATURDAY'S TICKET

No. 18 Arkansas at Alabama

KICKOFF: 5:45 p.m. TV: ESPN.

WHERE: Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa, Ala.

RECORDS: Arkansas Razorbacks, 1-0; Alabama Crimson Tide, 2-0, 1-0 Southeastern Conference.

COACHES: Arkansas, Houston Nutt (68-44, 10th season, 104-66 overall, 15 seasons); Alabama, Nick Saban (2-0, 1st season, 108-59-1 overall, 14 seasons).

LAST GAME: Arkansas defeated Troy 46-26 on Sept. 1; Alabama defeated Vanderbilt 24-10 on Saturday.

SERIES: Alabama leads 9-8.

LAST MEETING: Arkansas won 24-23 in double overtime on Sept. 23, 2006, in Fayetteville.

LAST ROAD MEETING: Alabama won 24-13 in Tuscaloosa on Sept. 24, 2005.

UNDER NUTT: Arkansas is 5-4 against the Crimson Tide, 1-3 in Tuscaloosa.



Alex Abrams' AP College Football Ballot



1. LSU

2. Southern Cal

3. West Virginia

4. Florida

5. Texas

6. Wisconsin

7. Oklahoma

8. Ohio State

9. California

10. Rutgers

11. Louisville

12. Arkansas

13. Penn State

14. UCLA

15. Nebraska

16. Georgia Tech

17. Boston College

18. Tennessee

19. Virginia Tech

20. South Carolina

21. Georgia

22. South Florida

23. Hawaii

24. Texas A&M

25. TCU

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