Special Teams Nearly Cost UA

LITTLE ROCK — For all the gaffes by Arkansas' special teams, it was Louisiana-Monroe's lone special teams' miscue that proved the difference.

Jeremy Gener's miss on a 45-yard field goal attempt with 36 seconds remaining put the finishing touches on the Razorbacks' 28-27 win on Saturday night in War Memorial Stadium. Prior to the miss, the Warhawks had been nearly perfect on special teams' play — something Arkansas (2-0) wasn't.

In the first half, the list of Razorbacks special teams mistakes mounted one after another. They started with a 45-yard field goal miss by sophomore kicker Alex Tejada on the game's first drive — after which Tejada was seen being berated by Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino on the War Memorial Stadium jumbotron.

Tejada followed that with a 25-yard field goal miss, an extra-point miss, a delay-of-game penalty on a kickoff and a kickoff out of bounds that led to a ULM touchdown.

"He needs to come back and get his confidence back," Petrino said. "The bad thing is he had a great week of practice. I don't think he missed one field goal in our work after practice all week long."

As poor of a night as Tejada had, his was only a part of a total first-half collapse for the Razorbacks special teams. The Warhawks also blocked a Jeremy Davis punt, leading to a field goal, and kick returner Dennis Johnson fielded a kickoff near the goal line and stepped out at the 5.

"We did a lot of things in special teams that could have got us beat," Petrino said. "We have a lot of work to do on our special teams in all phases."

At halftime, when the kickers came out for warmups, Tejada was nowhere to be seen. Instead, Davis was out practicing kickoffs — which he did in the season opener against Western Illinois but not in the first half on Saturday — and sophomore transfer Shay Haddock was practicing field goals.

"You can't just put it all on anybody," Arkansas senior quarterback Casey Dick said. "We're a team that will accept full responsibility for what everybody does.

"We win and lose as a team, and that's just something that we're going to have to go through together."

Tejada, who wasn't made available by Arkansas following the game, didn't emerge from the lockerroom after halftime until the rest of his teammates came on to the field. When he did, his socks were pulled down to his ankles, and the sophomore from Springdale High didn't see action for the rest of the game — though he was seen receiving support from his teammates.

"He expects a lot out of himself, and when he struggles like that, you've got to be there for moral support," Arkansas senior center Jonathan Luigs said.

Haddock came on for two extra-point attempts in the second half, making both — including the game winner after D.J. Williams' 8-yard touchdown catch from Dick with 3:02 remaining.

"(Haddock) came in and did a nice job," Petrino said. "He made both extra points. Again, he had a good week of practice. He did a real nice job on all his extra points and field goals all through practice.

"We just have to get the entire operation in sync. It takes everybody to do their job, and then you're successful doing it."

Petrino wouldn't say afterward whether the kicking job was open for competition.

"(We've got to) just go out there and practice and work on rebuilding confidence," Petrino said.

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