FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas receiver Keon Hatcher’s season opener at Auburn was marred by a critical mistake, dropping a deep pass from quarterback Brandon Allen.

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas receiver Keon Hatcher’s season opener at Auburn was marred by a critical mistake, dropping a deep pass from quarterback Brandon Allen.


It was disappointing. And frustrating. But Allen said the error, which was part of Arkansas’ 45-21 loss, didn’t change his feelings about his teammate.


"I never lost confidence in Keon," Allen said. "Not one bit."


Hatcher made up for the mistake during Arkansas’ 73-7 win against Nicholls State last Saturday. The junior, who opened the season hoping to become a dependable weapons for an improving offense, showed off his big-play capabilities by scoring two touchdowns in Arkansas’ record-setting performance.


It started with the 82-yard touchdown run on Arkansas’ first play from scrimmage. Hatcher added a 50-yard touchdown catch — pulling in the deep ball and making a move to get to the end zone — later in the first half. Hatcher nearly added a third touchdown on special teams, fielding a kickoff and returning it 47 yards.


He only touched the ball three times in the blowout, but accounted for 179 yards.


"The coaches have got a lot of confidence in me after that play I messed up at Auburn," Hatcher said last Saturday. "They know I was going to shake that off and come back, so I thank them for that and having that confidence in me."


Arkansas (1-1) will continue to trust in Hatcher when it goes back on the road to play at Texas Tech (2-0) on Saturday. The Razorbacks will lean on a ground game averaging an NCAA-best 9.4 yards a carry so far this season, but Arkansas will need its passing offense to produce on the road against Texas Tech.


Hatcher’s performance will be a key part of the efforts. Hatcher, who is from Owasso, Okla., is one of four receivers who caught touchdown catches in the Nicholls State rout. He leads Arkansas with 67 receiving yards through two games.


Arkansas receivers coach Michael Smith said last week the Razorbacks were confident Hatcher would be fine after the glaring drop at Auburn. He pointed to his only catch of the game, when Hatcher pulled in a pass on the sideline, broke a tackle and picked up 17 yards in the third quarter. It was Arkansas’ biggest gain of the half.


"He’s really hard on himself, and that’s the thing I’ve got to do as a coach, is get him to be able to move on," Smith said. "He’s making progress that way. I felt so bad for him, because he’s been practicing well. And he had the issue happen to him in camp. He’s going to be fine. We’re going to keep working with him, keep getting him in the ball and hopefully he’ll continue to progress and have a good season for us."


Arkansas’ faith in Hatcher was evident when his number was called on the first play from scrimmage against Nicholls State. The junior — who had 140 rushing yards on 11 attempts last season — took advantage of his first rushing attempt last Saturday.


The play was blocked and executed to perfection, tricking Nicholls State. Hatcher, who was running from left to right, took a pitch from Allen and raced through a gaping hole. No one touched him on the 82-yard play, which is now tied for the 10th-longest touchdown run in school history.


The touchdown catch was the longest reception of Hatcher’s career as well. Hatcher slipped behind the defense and was all alone when Allen floated the ball downfield. Hatcher had to come back for it, but caught the pass, shook a defender and scored.


"He didn’t lose confidence in himself, so I don’t think either of us were thinking about that (Auburn) pass before," Allen said. "I know that Keon is going to catch the ball when I throw him the ball. He did just that (last Saturday)."


The 50-yard reception was Arkansas’ second-longest pass play under Bret Bielema.


"I’m so excited for Keon. I love that kid," Bielema said. "He just does everything we ask him to do. He works. He prepares. He’s in it. He’s conscientious. There will be so many times during the summer I’ll pop in on a Sunday or during a spring and he’s here running routes on his own or working on footwork. To see him get rewarded (Saturday) … To give a kid like that that chance was huge."


Hatcher doesn’t want to settle on one big performance against a Football Championship Subdivision program, though. The Razorbacks have much bigger tests looming, including Saturday’s game at Texas Tech.


So Hatcher plans to perform once again after his rough opener at Auburn.


"You’ve got to shake it off," Hatcher said. "It happens. It’s a game. It happens. You’ve got to shake it off and come back and be stronger."