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22 Arkansas It took a Nutt to lead the Razorbacks out of the wilderness and into bowls

He rose from nowhere to put Arkansas on the national map. On the
verge of his greatest triumph, he committed a foolish mistake
that will forever be a part of his legacy. The rest of the
country may have cringed, but Arkansas still embraces him as one
of its own. But enough about Clint Stoerner, let's talk about
President Clinton.

No, no, let's talk about Stoerner, the senior quarterback who
led the Razorbacks to an 8-0 start last season. Stoerner also is
the quarterback whose unforced fumble with 1:43 to play allowed
the eventual national champion, Tennessee, to come back and beat
Arkansas, 28-24. All that he achieved last season--school
records for passing yards (2,629) and touchdowns (26)--lay in
the shadow of a simple stumble. As Stoerner rolled out to pass,
he tripped and put his right hand to the turf to keep himself
from falling. Unfortunately, that hand was holding the ball. The
Razorbacks finished 9-3, and Stoerner's gaffe was replayed on TV
about as often as the clip of that other Arkansan leaning
forward and saying, "I did not have sexual relations with that

Stoerner and his teammates have already proven their ability to
put a disappointing season behind them. The Razorbacks went 4-7
in 1997 before coach Houston Nutt came in and taught them how to
believe in themselves. It helped that Nutt had four seniors and
a junior on the offensive line a year ago. Though 14 starters
return this fall, the new line will have to jell quickly if the
Razorbacks are to contend for the SEC Western Division
championship. Stoerner has the two best passing targets in the
division in senior split end Anthony Lucas, whose 23.3 yards per
catch led the SEC last season, and senior tight end Joe Dean
Davenport, who is so big (6'7", 257 pounds) he needs all three
of his names. Senior tailback Chrys Chukwuma, who shared the job
last season with Madre Hill, worked hard in the weight room
during the off-season to prepare for toting double last year's
load. Senior free safety Kenoy Kennedy led Arkansas in tackles
last season with 95, which doesn't reflect poorly on the front
seven. Kennedy just likes to go find the ball, and defensive
coordinator Keith Burns lets him roam.

It speaks to what Nutt has built in 20 months that Burns turned
down the coaching job at Louisiana Tech to stay in Fayetteville.
Arkansas is poised to make a second consecutive bowl appearance
for the first time in a decade. That does not depend on what
your definition of "is" is.


COLOR PHOTO: ALLEN KEE/BRSP In like Clint Stoerner, a senior, set Razorback passing records last season for yardage and touchdowns.

Fast Facts

1998 record: 9-3 (6-2, 1st in SEC West)
Final ranking: No. 16 AP, No. 17 coaches' poll

1998 Averages Scoring Rushing Passing Total
Yards Yards Yards

OFFENSE 32.6 151.4 242.5 393.9
DEFENSE 16.5 95.5 210.9 306.4


Key Games
Schedule strength: 47th of 114

Sept. 25 at Alabama
The Hogs have owned the Tide of late, winning three of the last
four. They're capable of making it four of five.

Nov. 13 vs. Tennessee
There will be no fluke fumble this time. The Razorbacks will win
the conference showdown they should have won last year.

The Bottom Line

Stoerner and his teammates. have the talent and motivation to go
where they could have gone in '98: the SEC championship game and
a BCS bowl.