Cincinnati vs. Arkansas: Prospects Review and Game Recap

Cincinnati vs. Arkansas
photo credit: Arkansas Athletics

Cincinnati vs. Arkansas was one of the more exciting matchups in an otherwise bland 3:30 slate of games. Relive the excitement and learn about some of the NFL Draft prospects for each team who stood out in this Cincinnati vs Arkansas review.

Cincinnati vs. Arkansas Game Recap

The number 23 ranked Bearcats took on the 19th ranked Razorbacks in a game between 2021’s most exciting squads. Both teams lost significant talent to the NFL Draft last year but still kept a large portion of their nucleus.

The first half was a tightly contested match in which defenses reigned supreme. Much of the first quarter was marred by strong defenses, with the only score coming from Arkansas by way of a quarterback touchdown run. Cincinnati almost shortened the score to just four points, however kicker Ryan Coe missed a 25-yard field goal with 0:13 seconds left in the quarter.

The second quarter was much the same as both teams traded punts until the Razorbacks were able to break the stalemate late in the half, putting the score at 14-0. Additionally, Cincinnati would attempt another field goal during the previous possession but missed again, this time from 48 yards out.

The Bearcats finally scored at the beginning third quarter with a Corey Kiner rushing touchdown from the Arkansas five-yard line. Arkansas would then respond with a nice back-shoulder touchdown to Jadon Haselwood. Cincinnati would also return the favor with another touchdown pass to Nick Mardner and would force a fumble on the next Razorbacks possession. This would only lead to a field goal, and Arkansas would extend their lead afterward with a field goal of their own.

With the score 24-17 heading into the fourth quarter, Arkansas continued to extend their lead with another deep touchdown. Cincinnati would bring the score closer with a Leonard Taylor touchdown reception. Despite the efforts of the Bearcats, Arkansas would take possession and drain the clock, finishing the game with a 31-24 victory.

Cincinnati vs. Arkansas Offensive Prospects Review

KJ Jefferson was the best prospect on the field Saturday, showing off his speed and playmaking ability. He finished the day going 18/26 for 223 yards and three passing touchdowns with one on the ground as well. Jefferson was stellar on the ground yesterday as well, displaying excellent agility to create yards after the play breaks down.

Additionally, Jefferson looks more comfortable navigating the pocket and working through his progressions. It was a great first game for the redshirt junior, and has certainly helped his draft stock.

Tight end Trey Knox was part of Jefferson’s success on Saturday, catching six passes for 75 yards and two touchdowns. Knox is a converted wide receiver who is now the starting tight end for Sam Pittman’s offense. He showed great ball tracking ability and speed, which was on full display during Arkansas’s final touchdown. Knox is certainly a player to keep an eye on from here on out.

The aforementioned Haselwood was also a consistent target, showing off his body control and hand-eye coordination on his touchdown grab. The Oklahoma transfer picked up where he left off with the Sooners, and could be a big contributor in 2022.

Cincinnati looked noticeably weaker after losing a majority of their defensive talent and some key starters on offense. Despite this, there were still a couple of standout performances worth noting here. Tight end Josh Whyle started off with an incredible one-handed grab from an awkward throw by quarterback Ben Bryant. Although he finished without a touchdown, Whyle was a safety blanket underneath and was able to create some nice yards after the catch.

Wide receiver Tyler Scott also had a nice game against Arkansas. Scott is one of the Bearcats’ speedy deep threats that had plenty of opportunities to score, however Cincinnati could not get him the ball. The same could be said for Tre Tucker, who had a solid game but wasn’t able to show off his big play ability.

Cincinnati vs. Arkansas Defensive Prospects Review

Arkansas’s defensive transfers also flashed a ton during this Week 1 matchup. Defensive ends Jordan Domineck and Drew Sanders both had quarterback sacks while showing off their impressive athleticism.

The last Arkansas prospect to shine was fan-favorite safety Jalen Catalon. Coming off of a season-ending shoulder injury, Catalon had a solid game Saturday, but left due to another injury to his shoulder. He would not return, but still managed to show off his physicality and instincts in his limited reps.

On defense, the star of the show was transfer linebacker Ivan Pace Jr, who took charge in place of the departed Darrian Beavers. Pace had a few nice plays in the box but really shined as a blitzer. His brother Deshawn also flashed a little due to his athleticism, but had an otherwise rough outing Saturday.

Saturday was also a disappointing game from veteran defensive back Arquan Bush. As the most tenured player on the Bearcats’ back end, Bush struggled to stay in phase with his targets and let up some big plays.