Jones Noticeably Absent For Razorbacks

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Arkansas junior Felix Jones has excelled in his role as the silent sidekick to teammate Darren McFadden throughout his career.

But the junior's second-half absence during the Razorbacks' 34-13 loss at Tennessee didn't go unnoticed Saturday. In fact, it was a glaring problem.

Jones couldn't help Arkansas' struggling offense because of a deep thigh bruise he sustained on a first quarter kickoff. The junior -- who rushed for a career-high 166 and three touchdowns against South Carolina last week -- finished with three rushing yards on three carries against the Volunteers.

"It hurt us a lot," offensive coordinator David Lee said. "When he's gone, you realize how much of a big-play guy he is. And when you're leaning on this play, that play and he's not there, it wrecks a lot of your personnel groups."

Jones' three rushing yards was his second-lowest rushing total at Arkansas. The only outing where he didn't produce more was the second game of his career against Vanderbilt in 2005. Jones had one carry for minus-one yard.

Last week, Jones and McFadden set an NCAA single-game record for rushing yards for a duo, combining for 487 in the 48-26 win against South Carolina. Jones -- who broke the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the second straight season in the game -- led the way in the first half with enormous runs. It set up McFadden's incredible finish.

But the Hogs never had their one-two punch at full strength after Arkansas' first kick return, when Jones fielded the ball and sprinted 48 yards into Tennessee territory. It was Arkansas' biggest play of the game. It happened to be the most costly, too.

"We knew it at halftime," coach Houston Nutt said of Jones' thigh injury. "We were hoping we could get it loose. But it just tightened up on him."

The run game struggled without Jones, gaining 36 yards in the first half and finishing with 127. It was their second-lowest total this season. But quarterback Casey Dick said the Hogs can't blame Jones' absence on Saturday's loss.

"We're not going to sit here and make excuses on whether it did or didn't," Dick said. "We've still got to be able to go out there and execute. No matter what is called, go out there and try to make positive yards on it."

Jones spent much of the second half on the sideline with trainer Dean Weber. His thigh was wrapped, he rode a stationary bike for a few minutes, then stood and watched the rest of the game.

Ultimately, Jones left for the locker room when Tennessee linebacker Jerod Mayo returned an interception 34 yards for a touchdown to give the Razorbacks a 34-13 lead with less than three minutes left. Jones was greeted by a well-wisher on his way off the field, briefly pointed to his thigh and got a pat on the back before limping into the tunnel.

"Hopefully he'll be all right," Lee said. "But he's hurting now."

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