Sam Pittman Can Only Hope Arkansas Gets the 11 a.m. Starts Figured Out

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas got off to a terrible start at Georgia last week and fell behind 21-0 after the first quarter.

Following the game, Sam Pittman said it appeared Arkansas wasn’t ready for a noon eastern kickoff time against Georgia.

“Obviously, the entire team wasn’t ready for a noon eastern kickoff,” Pittman said. “We weren’t. We felt like we were. We felt like we had a good week at practice.”

Well, it doesn’t get any better as far as kickoff times the next two weeks. Saturday’s game against Ole Miss in Oxford and the Auburn game the following week in Fayetteville are also scheduled for 11 a.m. CT kickoffs. Pittman talked about that on Monday.

“I think that’s 100% correct,” Pittman said of not being ready to play on Saturday at that time. “I think Georgia had a lot to do with that. I don’t know exactly except learn from last week. I don’t know that we can do a whole lot about when we have pre-game. I don’t know that we can practice at 11. You know we did in the fall. I think it’ll just be try to get a different mindset going in there. You know, in all honesty, I think everybody saw we just weren’t ready for the grand stage yet. And that’s all of us. 

“This is going to be a big stage because it’s ESPN and all those things. But you know the College GameDay atmosphere and the 93,000, there was a lot of kids after the game, after I spoke to them, who said it’s the loudest crowd and they hadn’t ever been in anything like that. And we tried to simulate it in practice and obviously didn’t have it turned up loud enough. But I think just try to learn from this experience that we just went through. I don’t know if we’ll have any different kind of wakeup or anything like that. 

“I heard that — and I don’t know if it’s true — but I heard that Kirby played music in the locker room and things of that nature. We were just trying to go with status quo because we had practiced it for a week in fall camp. And obviously we all saw we didn’t do it the right way. So we’re still thinking about what we might do on Saturday to change that up.”

Have any of the captains or older players talked to the team about not letting Georgia beat you twice?

“I wouldn’t know if they did, to be honest with you,” Pittman said. “I think we’ve all, in one realm or another, we’ve gotten the heck kicked out of us at some point in our life, whether it be at home, whether it be physically, whatever it is. The only way I know how to do it is you get up and you brush the dirt off, you brush whatever it is, and you go back to work. If we do a tremendous amount of difference than what we’ve done before, I mean, look, we’ve been underdogs in 14 of our 16 games, including Saturday. We’ve never been favored to win an SEC game.

“We’re doing things right. We just have to do them better. If I make a mountain out of a mole hill because we went and got kicked. We’ve got to correct the situation. We’ve got to do better. We’ve got to cut the penalties out. We’ve got to do better and we’ve got to coach better. But if I go totally off and start having meetings with the players and all this stuff, I think I’m sending a message that I’m panicking and I’m not. Because we’ve got a good football team and we got our butt kicked by a really good football team. We don’t like it and we’re not accepting it, but I’ll be damned if Georgia’s going to make us lose this Ole Miss game.”

Pittman and the Hogs defeated Ole Miss last year. The Hogs were 2-1 against Ole Miss when Pittman was an assistant under Bret Bielema. Pittman talked about how this series has produced some outstanding games.

“I mean, I remember when I was here in ’14 and I don’t know if that was 17-0,” Pittman said. “I think LSU was 17-0. (The Ole Miss game was) 30-0. They had some premier D-linemen and all that. We were on a roll at that point and I can remember how physical the game was, and then the next year was the Hunter Heave. Man, what a game that was. It’ll go down in the history of Arkansas. What a wonderful game. Went for 2 and (Brandon) Allen ran in there on that.

“Then last year getting our first home win in the SEC in however long it was, that was a big deal. To be honest with you, Arkansas and Ole Miss ought to be, to me, a rival game kind of like us and Missouri. I think it’s working its way into that more and more because you see probably two very similar, in terms of talent, teams and things of that nature. I’m not discarding Corral, because he’s exceptional. But two teams similar talent-wise.”

Arkansas and Ole Miss will appear on ESPN Saturday. The No. 13 Hogs are 4-1 and No. 17 Ole Miss is 3-1.

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