FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Sam Pittman told the media that his Razorbacks would not have to play a perfect game at Georgia, but it would need to be very close to perfect.
It did not take long for the Razorbacks to commit enough mistakes to let the game get out of hand. Georgia was without starting QB JT Daniels, but it did not matter, and the massive front for the Bulldogs did something that nobody else has done this year; clear large running lanes against the Hogs.
Georgia rushed for 273 yards while Arkansas never got the offense going. AJ Green led all rushers with 28 yards, and Arkansas only rushed for 75 as a team.
The passing game was no better, with KJ Jefferson going 8/13 for 65 yards. The Hogs only managed 9 first downs.
This game was decided long before Saturday. While Sam Pittman and his staff do a phenomenal job of coaching players up and developing talent, the starting point for the Georgia linemen was much higher. Pittman recruited many of those players, and the day will come when Arkansas will display that level of athleticism.
Razorback fans have seen this before.
Houston Nutt and the 2006 Razorbacks lost to USC 50-14 to open the season before going on to win 10 games that year. In 1991, Larry Johnson and the top ranked UNLV Runnin Rebels came to Barnhill arena to face Nolan Richardson and the no.2 Razorbacks 40 minutes of hell. UNLV won the game, and the memory of Johnson’s trash talk resonated loudly.
“I ran by that bench. I said, ‘Coach, you better get some men out here.”
Nolan did just that, and cut down the nets as national champions a few short years later. Given some time, Pittman can do the same.
He can still get this team to a New Year’s game this season and win 10 games. And, he can certainly go get some men to take the field and build a roster to match his style of play.
Keys to the Game in the Grove:
Time of Possession: Though Briles likes to play uptempo, this is the week to burn clock and chug up and down the field. This Rebels defense is vulnerable. While Ole Miss is last in the conference in passes defended and interceptions, expect the Hogs to run early and often. The Rebels best defensive effort this season against the run was 139 yards to Tulane. Look for Arkansas to go over 200 yards on the ground this week, showcasing multiple backs.
Turnover Battle: About the only thing the Hogs did right at Georgia was to avoid turnovers. There were no fumbles or interceptions from the Arkansas offense, and that needs to continue. Ball security in the run game will be paramount. As for the Arkansas defense, expect them to give Matt Corral his first interception of the season. There likely will not be a six interception performance like a year ago. In fact, the defensive pressure may come up front this year, with Arkansas showcasing the ability to get to the passer without a blitz against everyone not named Georgia.
Special Teams: OK, so technically there was a turnover a week ago. Expect teams to put pressure on the Razorback special teams at every occasion. The blocked punt for a score against Georgia was ugly, and Nathan Parodi, who has shown the best hands on the return teams, has yet to have room return a punt and showcase his speed. Even kicker Cam Little missed a kick last week, his first of the season. Arkansas doesnt have to win the special teams matchup, but they need to at least break even and not give Ole Miss a short field or extra opportunities on offense.
If Arkansas can win on the road against another ranked opponent, they will vault right back into the national spotlight and be the lone contender to Alabama for the SEC West. The betting line says Ole Miss, the rankings say Arkansas, and at 11AM Saturday there will be a clash of styles between two programs on the rise. (Popcorn not included.)
Content and Photos by Jamie Varnell
Stay in touch with us anytime, anywhere --