Defensive Key: Keeping Up With Jones

Arkansas has but one returning offensive starter from the squad that upset Texas, 38-28, in Austin last year. But, for Razorback fans, he's the one that they'd want.

QB Matt Jones is closing in on the SEC record for rushing by a signal caller. His career total of 1,951 yards is second only to Mississippi State's John Bond. Many observers are convinced that Jones' best performance of 2003 came against the Horns when he threw for 139 yards and rushed for 102.

The senior is a big (6-6, 237), physical, blue collar QB possessing what many of the Horn defenders described this week in terms of 'deceptive speed'. In this case, head coach Mack Brown defines 'deceptive speed' in terms of a guy with Jones' size "shouldn't be able to run a 4.4."

"He's huge, and he flies by everybody, and that's why they're amazed by how fast he is," Brown said. "I thought last year he was the difference in our ballgame. He scares us to death. It will be a great challenge for us this weekend. When he's played well, they've won."

Jones set the tone early in last year's upset. Responding to Texas' opening-TD drive, Jones answered by hitting WR George Wilson for an 18-yard score. That drive was kept alive when Jones slung a 10-yard toss to Wilson as DT Rodrique Wright was attempting to drag him down deep in the backfield. On Arkansas' next series (following a 13-yard Texas punt), Jones kept the scoring drive alive by scrambling for 18 on 3rd-and-seven.

Putting more pressure on the quarterback was an area targeted for improvement this season, and this is the first of four games this season (OU, Missouri, Texas Tech) where Texas must either get the quarterback dirty or try to outduel its opponent with its offense. How, then, does Texas plan to keep up with Jones?

"You just have to be really sound," Co-Defensive Coordinator Greg Robinson said Tuesday, "and you have to be really athletic."

Jones has accounted for 58 career touchdowns, 39 passing and 19 rushing. That puts him just four scores behind former Razorback QB Clint Stoerner (1996-1999).

"He can make you miss," Robinson said. "You go watch, and I'm not going to name the schools but they're all in there, but he can make them all miss. He's rare. He's got a lot of tools: size, speed, quickness."

He is also noted for his unorthodox method of picking up yards.

"He's awkward in the way that he comes at you," Robinson noted. "He can change directions and he gains four yards. Boom! Boom! It's like he takes one step and gets the yard on you. No, he's from here-to-there in two steps. It's unique."

Texas coaches expect to see Jones run the ball more, considering the Hogs rushed 60 times against Texas last year and attempted 18 passes. In Arkansas' 63-13 win over New Mexico State Saturday, Jones ran for 38 yards and a TD and threw for 195 yards on 13-of-16 passing. He left the game following the opening drive of the third quarter.

Those who see Jones as a legitimate pro prospect believe his best shot in the League is to move to receiver

"I think Matt will play on Sunday," Brown said. "Some people say he may not be a quarterback but I think he will be."

Texas and Arkansas are slated to kickoff at 7:45 p.m. in an ESPN national broadcast.

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