FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Following a 28-7 loss to TCU last Saturday, Arkansas coach Bret Bielema said the Razorbacks would be making a change at kicker. Starter Cole Hedlund missed 2 kicks inside of 23 yards in the defeat.
Bielema walked back that statement Wednesday. The coach clarified that while it’s unlikely Hedlund will start against Texas A&M on Sept. 23, the junior remains a possibility. Sophomore Connor Limpert and freshman Blake Mazza are also options. Bielema said the job will be decided by who performs the best in practice during the next week.
Additionally, Bielema will take into account how well he feels each can perform in game situations. According to Bielema, Hedlund has struggled in that area despite being accurate in practice. Bielema said Hedlund made “around 97 percent” of his kicks during fall camp in August. After Saturday, Hedlund is on the verge of losing his starting spot a second consecutive season.
“I go back to a year ago with Cole,” Bielema said. “He was really, really productive with practice numbers and accuracy and percentages. But when the crowd is live and it’s a live game environment, obviously those numbers don’t reflect. At games, I know the crowd is going to be there, so I have to make a decision based on that.”
Bielema also said Saturday the second missed kick by Hedlund, from 20 yards, was “a PAT and to miss that is juvenile.” He emphatically clarified Wednesday he was referring to the missed kick, not Hedlund himself.
“I didn’t call him juvenile,” Bielema said. “You guys are writers, you can do it. I said [missing the kick] was juvenile. At one point I said I was done with it, I didn’t say I’m done with him.”
Bielema went on to say he’s been Hedlund’s biggest supporter the past three years. Hedlund has started 22 games during that time, making 14 of his 24 field goal attempts.
“I gave him the opportunity and because of the results of what I saw Saturday, the chances of him being our kicker against A&M are very slim,” Bielema said. “But I will reserve judgement to see what I see the next week.”
Arkansas is on a bye week. The Hogs will face Texas A&M at 11 a.m. Sept. 23 in Arlington, Texas.