FAYETTEVILLE — Sam Pittman and his No. 20 Razorbacks will host Georgia Southern on Saturday afternoon trying to move to 3-0 on the year with SEC playing fast approaching.
On Wednesday the media had two opportunities to talk to Pittman. Here’s three various thoughts from Pittman about his team.
Difference Preparing For Non-Conference Teams
Last season when the Hogs played a complete SEC schedule Pittman felt his players were mentally prepared each week. If there was ever a trap game for this team it’s likely Saturday. The Eagles come in one week after the Hogs beat Texas 40-21 and seven days before the Razorbacks open SEC play against Texas A&M, who owns a nine-game winning streak against them. Is it harder to get your team prepared for non-conference team than an SEC one?
“I would think so,” Pittman said. “I mean, we’ve already proven we weren’t ready to play against Rice, you know? Obviously it wasn’t easy for us to get our team prepared and ready for that, because we didn’t play any good, at least offensively, in that game for at least two and a half quarters. We certainly have looked back at that in the mirror. It’s easy to blame the kids for stuff, but the kids, basically, they’ll do whatever we ask them to and we’ve got to continue to be — and I’m talking about me — a better coach. I learned a lot, I hope, from the Rice game, and certainly hope that doesn’t happen to us on Saturday, that we go out and be the best team that we can be, and whatever the score ends up being at that point, if we play well then we can live with it.”
Things didn’t work out for former four-star wide receiver Warren Thompson at Florida State, but he’s off to a good start in Fayetteville. He has caught three passes for 21 yards, all against Texas. Pittman talked about Thompson on Wednesday.
“Well, again, he’s a guy that goes to work,” Pittman said. “He has improved his blocking. He’s always been able to run routes and catch the ball. I teased with him yesterday before practice that I got tired of people asking me who No. 84 was. Finally there’s about five or six people in the crowd knows who you are now and at least they didn’t ask me who is 84. I was teasing him. He’s a hard worker who doesn’t say anything. Never hardly talks. He’s got really good hands. Now there’s one who is going to get better as the season goes on too. I think he’s still thinking a little bit right now to be honest with you. Not in his routes, but in his assignments. I think he’s getting better and better, but he’s playing a little slower than what he will because he’s not positive about what is going on. He’s getting close, but still has a few plays that he’s playing a little slower than I would like.”
Grant Morgan Injury, Linebacker Rotation
Arkansas has three outstanding senior linebackers. Grant Morgan was injured against Texas.
“Grant’s doing good,” Pittman said. “He practiced the entire time Monday and Tuesday, and we expect him to today. So, I think he’s going to be just fine. Other guys, I think the rest of them are fine. Off the top of the head, I can’t think of anybody that wouldn’t be available.”
When Morgan, Bumper Pool and Hayden Henry are all available Pittman talked about how they rotate them.
“We have a coaches meeting every Saturday morning and it’s how we’re going to play the plays,” Pittman said. “So in that meeting, if there’s not a whole heck of a lot of difference between this guy, that guy and that guy, it’s really, really easy to stay with the formula you know. Let’s say for instance Bump comes out and it’s a 75-play game and let’s say we want him coming out with 50 and somebody else with 50 and maybe Grant would get 65 or whatever it may be. So we kind of have a formula there on how we’re going to play them and when we’re going to put them in. I believe if you’re going to play somebody in a game you need to put them in early to get used to what’s going on out there, so you can talk to them a little bit about what’s happening and they can relay messages back with what’s going on on the field. But we have that and we stay with it for the most part.
“Now if there’s a significant amount of difference with the players or if there’s an inexperienced player and all heck is breaking loose on the field, like Rice, sometimes those numbers don’t quite — nobody wants to play an inexperienced guy at those type times in the game. So we try to have that done on Saturday and talk about it and that’s kind of how we do it.”
Pool has 24 tackles this season, Henry 20 and Morgan 14. Each has missed some action due to targeting calls against them.