Take Five Breakdown: Florida-Arkansas Preview

Arkansas Preview

by Chris Will
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Please Read: Welcome to the new-look Inside the Gators

The trip to Jacksonville wasn’t the prettiest for this Florida squad. The Gators got beat down by the Bulldogs, 43-20. Now, they have a chance to bounce back at home against the Arkansas Razorbacks. Inside the Gators met up with Jackson Fuller of the Southwest Times Record to take a look at this Arkansas team.

Five Arkansas Razorbacks to Know

KJ Jefferson, Quarterback, Senior

  • Jefferson came into the 2023 season with fairly high expectations. He has the physical tools to make it happen. But the 6-foot-3, 250-pound quarterback has struggled at times, already eclipsing his interception total from both the 2022 and 2021 seasons. But a new offensive play caller could turn things around. “I think you’re going to see a lot quicker passes,” Fuller said, “Stuff where he only has to make maybe one read and get it to his playmakers and an ability or the opportunity for him to kind of tuck it and run the football at times as well.”

Ty Washington, Tight End, Freshman

  • Who? It wasn’t a name many may expect to be on this story, but one Fuller said could make an impact. He’s only appeared in three games this year, but he had seven catches for 90 yards and two touchdowns against Ole Miss, but has slowed down since then. “He started the year as the fourth string tight end,” Fuller said, “And then their starter got hurt and they had an open competition to replace him. He won the competition, and he’s had a huge game against Ole Miss. Against Alabama and Mississippi State, recently, not as big of a game, but the offense has looked good when he’s involved.”

Andrew Armstrong, Senior, Wide Receiver

  • The Texas A&M Commerce transfer is far and away the top guy in the receiving core. He’s got 43 catches for 520 yards and four touchdowns. It’s the highest on the team in each category.

Jaheim Thomas, Linebacker, Junior

  • Thomas leads the team in total tackles with 74. He’s also added 3.5 sacks and two pass deflections. “He’s been just a real force in the middle, making tackles, not making mistakes, not letting guys kind of breakthrough tackles,” Fuller said, “And he’s been terrific.”

Landon Jackson, Defensive Back, Junior

  • At 6-foot-7, 281-pounds, Jackson has a team leading 5.5 sacks to go along with 19 solo tackles. “If [the defensive ends] are getting after the quarterback and causing pressure and allowing Arkansas to maybe not blitz as much or disguise some of their blitzes more, that’s a good sign for the entire defense,’ Fuller said.

Five Fast Facts

  • The Gators wield a 10-2 series edge and are undefeated vs. the Razorbacks in five meetings inside The Swamp
  • The Gators will honor members of the armed forces, veterans, and local first responders in style as part of this year’s ‘Saluting Those Who Serve’ game, presented by VyStar Credit Union, by wearing alternate black uniforms for the first time in school history.
  • This is Florida’s first game on ESPN2 since Nov. 4, 2017 at Missouri (L, 45-16)
  • It has been over eight years since the Gators last won a game on ESPN2 (Sept. 12, 2015 vs. East Carolina – W, 31-24).
  • The Gators have won 13 of their last 15 games in The Swamp (including eight of nine), but are 2-14 in their last 16 contests outside The Swamp and 2-10 in their last 12 true road games.

Five Game Day Storylines

Keeping it Close

  • Arkansas is 2-6 this season. They’re 0-5 in the SEC. But it hasn’t been for a lack of effort. A three-point loss at No. 12 LSU, a seven-point loss at No. 16 Ole Miss, and a three-point loss at No. 11 Alabama is all that separates them from a winning record and some upset wins. Florida is the first unranked road contest of the season. “The program right now is so desperate for a win,” Fuller said, “Sam [Pittman] has said it a couple of times. He said all week, ‘We just need to find a win somehow. I don’t care how we do it.’”

New Play Caller

  • A series of close losses, and an underwhelming season from quarterback KJ Jefferson, prompted the Razorbacks to make a change at offensive coordinator. Dan Enos was fired and wide receiver coach Kenny Guiton is now in charge. “They said they’ve cut 30% of their playbook because there was just too much for the offense,” Fuller said, “Too much dead space in the playbook. They wanted to really focus on what they thought they were good at, which they haven’t been good at much this year, but they’re trying to find something and then really kind of repeat that process.”

Bye Bye Bye

  • Florida has faced their second straight opponent that has come fresh off a bye week. Georgia had an extra week to prepare for a Brock Bowers-less offense and Arkansas had an extra week to fine-tune the offense. “This bye week has been so focused on the new offense with the new coordinator making sure he’s up to speed and they’re figuring out what they want to run against Florida,” Fuller said.

Blackout Jerseys

  • Florida will be showcasing all-black uniforms for the first time in football history. It’s a part of the program’s salute to those who served. However, all-black at noon in Florida has prompted some skepticism. Head coach Billy Napier hasn’t wavered on the position and Arkansas is excited for the opportunity. “[Arkansas] genuinely do seem very excited about not necessarily the black jerseys, but just the environment that could produce there,” Fuller said.

Shemar James Out for Season

  • Leading tackler Shemar James is out for the remainder of the season after having surgery on his knee. James appeared to injure his knee in warmups against Georgia but played much of the game before going down late. Napier announced Wednesday that the standout sophomore won’t be back until spring. Mannie Nunnery is expected to take his place.


  • Chris Will: Florida 28-24
  • Jackson Fuller: Florida 24-16

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