Tejada Looks To Rebound From Costly Misses

FAYETTEVILLE — As his teammates left the field, Arkansas kicker Alex Tejada stayed behind Tuesday evening and spent a few minutes after practice working on his technique.

The junior then walked over to a group of reporters, and as he has done several times over the past few years, he talked about the need to bounce back from a few costly missed kicks.

"There's nobody else out there who wants that chance (to kick the game winner) again (more) than me, but next time you've got to be ready for those opportunities," Tejada said. "I was ready. I know what I did wrong. I just got to correct it."

A week ago, the former Springdale High star had nothing to explain. He's a perfectionist who was enjoying a perfect start to the season, making all seven of his field-goal attempts through the first five games.

But all that changed Saturday when, with Arkansas looking to take the lead in the final minutes against previously top-ranked Florida, Tejada pushed a 38-yard field-goal attempt wide left. It was his second miss of the day, and it proved costly in the 23-20 loss in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

Roughly three minutes after Tejada's miss, Florida's Caleb Sturgis booted the game-winner, a 27-yarder that went through the uprights with nine seconds remaining.

"I feel like I've had a great year so far, and I'm not going to let these two kicks define my season or define my career. It's not about that," Tejada said. "I'm looking to bounce back and finish strong."

Tejada made a pair of field goals against Florida, including a 22-yarder with no time remaining in the first half to give Arkansas a 10-3 lead. But he spent his time in front of reporters on Tuesday talking about his two misses, including a 40-yard attempt with 3:10 remaining in the third quarter.

Despite his shaky performance, Tejada isn't in jeopardy of losing his job as Arkansas' kicker. While redshirt freshman Cameron Bryan has handled the majority of the kickoff duty this season, Tejada is the only kicker listed on the Razorbacks' depth chart.

As Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino pointed out Monday, he doesn't have "a lot of options" on field goals other than Tejada.

"He's just going to go out and he's going to kick and he's going to get better," Arkansas special teams coordinator John L. Smith said. "And he has to get the right frame of mind and let it all happen, let it all finish. He just gets anxious."

Smith said Tejada had a good swing on his first miss against Florida, but he saw plenty of flaws in the junior's second miss.

Smith said Tejada rushed the kick and didn't allow his leg, eyes and head to complete the full motion. Tejada said he also noticed that his hips weren't pointed in the right direction.

The junior had to attempt his final kick from the right hash mark after Arkansas' coaches called a run play to the rightside of the field. They were looking to pick up a first down on a third-and-4 instead of getting the ball centered for a straight-ahead kick.

"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?'" Smith said. "If you're in certain situations, you can do that. But a lot of situations ... you can't, so he's got to kick it from whatever hash we're on."

Over the past few days, Arkansas' coaches and teammates have shown support for Tejada, who rebounded after his 46-yard field-goal attempt sailed wide right with no time remaining in last year's 31-28 loss at Mississippi State.

"He's a great character kid. I know he's going to bounce back," Arkansas tight end D.J. Williams said. "Hopefully, we can get our fan support and not everybody bashing him because he is on our team and he's a part of our family. Hopefully, we can get our whole state to back him up, and he'll be just fine."



Kicking It

Junior Alex Tejada has struggled with his accuracy throughout his career, connecting on only 69.8 percent of his field-goal attempts over the past three seasons. He's particularly struggled on attempts from 40 yards or more.

Here's a breakdown of how he's fared from different distances over his career:

Year 1-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50-59

2007 0-0 5-5 8-10 4-7 0-1

2008 0-0 3-4 1-1 0-4 0-0

2009 1-1 6-6 2-3 0-1 0-0

Total 1-1 14-15 11-14 4-12 0-1

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