Rough on quarterbacks

Cornelius defends unit’s tough afternoon

Posted: September 16, 2018 at 2:46 a.m.

Arkansas quarterback Cole Kelley (15) and running back Chase Hayden line up for a play during the second quarter of a game against North Texas on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018, at Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Loud boos were heard at Reynolds Razorback Stadium on Saturday when University of Arkansas starting quarterback Cole Kelley ran back onto the field with 9:26 left in the third quarter.

A lot of Arkansas fans still in the stands weren't happy that Kelley was in the game after throwing three interceptions in the first half against North Texas.

More boos rained down when Kelley threw his fourth interception on the first series of the second half in what became a 44-17 victory by the Mean Green.

The booing didn't sit well with Arkansas senior receiver Jared Cornelius.

"When you come out of the locker room in the second half and your starting quarterback is getting booed? By the home team?" Cornelius said. "When is that right? How is that right?

"I feel like I've been kind of holding this in for a minute, but at the end of the day, that's somebody's son, that's somebody's brother. That's my brother.

"And I'm not going to sit around like that's going to be OK. When a guy comes out after the first half and we're in middle of the football game -- at that point we're still in the game -- and you're booing him.

"That's not the standard. That's not going to be the standard."

The Razorbacks threw six interceptions --four by Kelley and one each by true freshmen Connor Noland and John Stephen Jones . Kelley had the most interceptions by a Razorback since Wade Hill threw five in the 1991 Independence Bowl loss against Georgia.

But Cornelius and Arkansas senior center Hjalte Froholdt -- who were made available for postgame interviews along with senior safety Santos Ramirez -- made it clear the the interceptions weren't only on the quarterbacks.

"In the end the O-line has to protect," Froholdt said. "The quarterback can't throw the ball well and can't sit in the pocket, and the receivers can't run good routes, if Cole has to start scrambling or whoever is back there has to start running around because what he's seeing is a big D-lineman in his face.

"I think we've all got to rally. All position groups, I think, made mistakes. But in the end we've got to protect better I believe."

Cornelius said Kelley unfairly took the brunt of the fans' disappointment.

"I think it's really easy to pick one guy to point a finger at, and for the majority of the first half, I think that guy was Cole," Cornelius said. "At least by the outside world.

"The receivers could run better routes. The offensive line could protect better. The running backs could get out on the checks and chip the defensive ends."

Ramirez said it was disrespectful to boo Kelley, who completed 16 of 35 passes for 185 yards and had a 5-yard rushing touchdown.

"He's out there giving his heart out for this team," Ramirez said. "Regardless of if he had a bad game or not, for people to boo him?

"They don't understand what the game of football really is about. They aren't on the field playing. That's something that we can't have.

"That just shows that when things hit the fan, everybody is ready to tap out. That's all that shows and we can't have that. We need support from our fans more than ever, just like we need support from our own teammates.

"Hopefully, guys on the sideline were getting him rallied back up, but that's our leader for now. That's our leader right now and we have to make sure we stand behind him at all times, regardless of the game he has.

"If one position group is having a bad game, another position group has to step up. That's what you do. You help each other."

Arkansas Coach Chad Morris put Noland into the game with 6:17 left in the third quarter. He played six series. He was sacked five times, completed 4 of 7 passes for 25 yards and had a 13-yard run.

"Connor came in and did pretty well from what I saw," Cornelius said. "He got a lot of pressure. They were blitzing the house pretty much every play that he was in. So that's hard.

"But to see him get back up after getting hit and sacked and just moving on to the next play, that's what you want to see out of a young quarterback."

Jones played two series and was 0 of 3 passing and threw an interception that Kemon Hall returned 44 yards for a touchdown. He had a 15-yard run.

"You know it's going to be tough for those guys when the defense is throwing so many things at them," Cornelius said. "But I feel like John Stephen and Connor did a great job of coming in and just having fun. That's what it's about."

Tough losses

The Razorbacks’ worst nonconference losses since World War II:

53 USC 70-17, 2005

44 Miami 51-7, 1987

42 Texas 52-10, 2008

36 USC 50-14, 2006

34 Oklahoma 42-8, 1986*

32 Oklahoma State 38-6, 1973

28 Miami 31-3, 1991

28 Ole Miss 28-0, 1959

27 North Texas 44-17, 2018

22 SMU 31-9, 1997

21 TCU 28-7, 2017

21 USC 31-10, 1972 * Orange Bowl

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Sports on 09/16/2018