University of Arkansas junior kicker Alex Tejada fully realizes that many Razorback fans are laying the blame for not upsetting No. 1 Florida on the refs and squarely at his feet – or right foot to be more accurate.
Although he was 7-of-7 on field goal attempts entering the game, Tejada picked an inopportune time to miss his first two of the season – including one late that could have given the UA squad a lead late over the top-ranked Gators.
To add insult to injury, he then had to watch Florida's Caleb Sturgis – who also missed a chip shot earlier in the game and was thus almost benched by head coach Urban Meyer – drill what turned into a game-winning boot and come away a hero.
"I wouldn't say it's been a great experience, but I've taken a lot from it," Tejada said. "I've learned a lot about myself and the people that care about me, and the team and our family in there.
"You know, things like that happen," Tejada added. "They happen to everybody and you see it happen in the league week-in and week-out and those guys bounce back. That's what we're trying to do here. Like I said earlier, no one wishes they had that kick back more than I do. I promise you I wanted it more than anybody out there, but things like that happen and unfortunately it happened, but you've got to keep moving forward."
That's exactly what Tejada said he did on Sunday – much like he did during a tough sophomore season in which he had a similar game against Mississippi State.
"It's not a great feeling, but all I know is the next morning I got up and I was ready to work," Tejada said. "That's all you can really focus on. That's over with, and after going through last year, I kind of know how to handle it. I just got to look forward to the next opportunity."
He is 9-of-11 on field goal and 24-of-25 on PATs – although one muffed snapped kept the Razorbacks from putting another PAT on the board against Auburn.
"I feel like I've had a great year so far," Tejada said. "I'm not going to let these two kicks define my season or define my career. I'm looking to bounce back and finish strong. We have a great chance as a football team to finish strong and possibly win out, and I have no doubt we can do that. Our team isn't down. We still have high spirits. We're still confident and we're ready to roll."
Arkansas special teams coordinator John L. Smith reiterated Tuesday what head coach Bobby Petrino had said on Monday – that Tejada will be the kicker at Ole Miss this weekend.
Despite the misses, Tejada kicked a 22-yard field goal at the end of the first half to give his team a 10-3 lead and made a 31-yarder to tie it 13-13 with 7 seconds left in the third quarter.
He missed a 40-yarder late in the third quarter with his team up 10-6 and the second miss came from 38 yards away with 3:08 remaining with the game tied 20-20.
"Well, the first one that he pushed was a pretty good swing, really," Smith said. "So I didn't get totally, totally upset. I mean, you want to make them all, of course. ... But the second one that he yanked, again he's not taking his time. He's not being patient with it. He's not letting the leg finish and finish his eyes and finish his head and finish the swing. The leg has to
finish the whole deal. ... He just got a little anxious."
There were some who thought the ball should have been run to the middle of the field on the last attempt instead of the right hashmark, but Smith said you can't allow that to be a factor.
"Everybody seems to be a little better from one hash than the other, but you can't have your whole game plan working around, ‘What hash are we on? Can we get it to the middle?' If you're in certain situations, you can do that," Smith said. "But a lot of situations and most of situations you can't, so he's got to kick it from whatever hash we're on."
Tejada believes he is going to be in position to win a game for Arkansas and plans to do so for his team.
"I've just got to keep moving forward," Tejada said. "It's a long season and a long journey and we're looking to finish strong."
O o o
The Arkansas offensive line has certainly improved the last few weeks, but has yet another tough challenge this weekend with Ole Miss.
That includes a match-up for Mitch Petrus against Rebels star defensive end Greg Hardy.
"Well, you better make sure you don't have a whole lot of homework you've got to do because you sure would like to be watching extra film," Petrus said. "That's the only thing that will help you going against someone like him - knowing his tendencies and stuff like that. I'm saying if you've got three tests or two tests this week, your chances (of doing well) aren't very good."
Petrus is very impressed with the entire Ole Miss defensive line.
"They're really solid," Petrus said. "They run a little bit different scheme with their blitzes and their defense as a total. Their defensive ends and defensive tackles disguise very well. It's hard to pick it up and hard to see what they're doing. We've got to be on our toes and see the things that are going on around us, or else you're going to get picked off."
O o o
Wideout Jarius Wright knows that Ole Miss is in the film room this weekend and notes so is his team.
"I feel like Ole Miss is going to watch that Florida tape and they're going to try to come out and play us a lot like Florida did," said Wright, who caught three passes for 30 yards in the loss to Florida. "We've just got to study film, too, and just make it work."
Not Giving Up
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