The Arkansas Razorbacks lost to the San Jose State Spartans 31-24 Saturday night at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium, and junior quarterback Nick Starkel feels like it is his fault.
An easy stat to point to the loss would be the Hogs’ giving up five turnovers and the Spartans surrendering just one. A closer examination would reveal that all five of those giveaways were Starkel interceptions, the most he has thrown in his collegiate career.
” I felt like I tried to force the ball a little bit,” Starkel told reporters after the game. “Definitely wasn’t just taking what the defense is giving us. It was just bad quarterback play.”
Coach Chad Morris acknowledged that Starkel was forcing throws, but also pointed out that such play was uncharacteristic for the Argyle, Texas, product.
“We have to play within the system,” Morris said. “That’s first and foremost. We have to play within the system, we have to take what they give us. And we can’t force everything. I thought he forced some balls. I thought he pressed a little bit. That was uncharacteristic. He didn’t do that the week before.”
The Razorbacks had one last chance to tie the ballgame after San Diego State went ahead 31-24 with a little over a minute remaining. The ball was at the Arkansas 20-yard line, and they had one timeout remaining. Even with four interceptions to that point, Morris had confidence in Starkel to go down and tie the game given they practice two-minute offense every week.
Starkel hurled a deep ball down the right sideline that was intercepted at the Spartans’ 30-yard line by Bobby Brown. Starkel had receiver Mike Woods as his intended target.
Said Morris: “I thought that we underthrew Mike. I thought Mike was open. We had an opportunity. We knew they were going to be rushing three, dropping eight. We had to found the holes in there. We had a chance to get the ball over the top. But we just didn’t. We just didn’t make it happen.”
San Diego State took two knees after regaining final possession and sealed the Razorbacks at 2-2.
“I feel like I let everybody down and I let my teammates down, my brothers, my family, these coaches that worked so hard to prepare us, get us in the right calls,” said Starkel. “I just let them down.”
Starkel completed 28-of-50 for 356 yards and three touchdowns, a byproduct of the run game producing 131 yards on 32 carries.
“We’ve got to keep him clean too,” Morris said. “We have to be effective running the football. We threw the ball 50 times and that’s entirely too many.”