FAYETTEVILLE — Sam Pittman reflected back on Saturday’s scrimmage Tuesday, but also took time to recognize the improvement that redshirt freshman wide receiver Isaiah Sategna has made.
Sategna was a four-star recruit who was the top prospect in Arkansas coming out of Fayetteville High School. He redshirted last season, but has stepped up this spring and drawn the attention of Pittman.
“I mean he’s playing his speed is what I guess I need to say,” Pittman said. “He’s gotten bigger. He’s playing physical. Playing physical doesn’t always mean blocking. It means getting off of people and being able to separate yourself physically from the defender. He has been one of the most impressive guys over the last three or four practices to me. He’s always had the speed and things like that. But I’ve been really impressed with his progression and I think he will be a really good player for us. I really do.”
With Jaedon Wilson sidelined for the remainder of spring and Tyrone Broden nursing an injury it seems that maybe Sategna saw an opportunity and is trying to take advantage of it.
“I would imagine that certainly went through his mind,” Pittman said. “But KJ (Jefferson) hit him with a nice pass in two-minute today. The main thing is the quarterback has to believe in you. I mean, he’s got to look for you. I think KJ is starting to have a little more and more belief in Sategna getting open.”
As far as the scrimmage, Pittman felt one side of the ball definitely got the better on the day.
“Well, I was really impressed with the defense,” Pittman said. “I thought Landon Jackson had as good a day as he’s had since he’s been here. I thought he was so impressive. I really like our defensive ends with Stew (Jashaud Stewart), and Zach (Williams), and Nico (Davillier), and John (Morgan III), and of course (Trajan) Jeffcoat. Those guys. I think we’re coming along.
“We’re pretty talented there. We’re a little short on the inside because Cam Ball’s got a high ankle. I was impressed with our linebackers. I really was. With (Antonio) Grier, (Jordan) Crook and (Pooh) Paul. Mani Powell played a lot better. I was impressed with those guys.”
Pittman then went into more detail on what the defense did to cause such a good showing.
“You know blitz quite a bit,” Pittman said. “We had a breakdown, a little bit, we got beat in a two-minute situation at corner for a touchdown late in the scrimmage. And then we got beat another time in the secondary. But other than that I thought that they tackled well. We had 122 plays. And situational. You know, obviously we went second and play third. Then we went third and play fourth. But for the most part in that scrimmage, the defense got the better of the offense.”
Pittman did single out a few players on offense who caught his eye including Jefferson and Sategna.
“I thought KJ did well,” Pittman said. “Receiver wise, (Andrew) Armstrong caught a touchdown pass. (Sam) Mbake caught a long pass when it was one-on-ones. I like Sategna. I think Sategna’s coming on. Tight end wise, you know we’ve talked about (Luke) Hasz. I think Tyrus Washington’s playing better. (Nathan) Bax is playing better. We’ve got to have those guys come on because in our offense we’re going to use them more. We’re still moving guys a little bit. Rocket (Sanders) rushed for about 67, 70 yards, something like that. I think he was definitely the leader in that.”
Pittman pointed out one aspect of the scrimmage the offense won.
“The ‘get the ball back two-minute drill,’ the offense both times made their first down and killed out the clock,” Pittman said. “So, that situation they won. The rest of them, I don’t believe that they did. We’re still trying to find exactly where our five offensive linemen need to play. We had problems with run throughs on Saturday. As far as the offensive line goes, and a little bit of communication on different blitz pickups. I thought we played extremely hard. We did not have a guy get hurt, and that was a big, big deal coming out of that.”
The specialists also performed well according to Pittman.
“Cam Little kicked the ball well,” Pittman said. “Missed one field goal. And other than that, I think we did a good job there. (Max) Fletcher punted the ball extremely well. I think he averaged 47 and a half yards a punt. Special teams were, I felt like, pretty good for the first scrimmage. Tackling was pretty good for the first scrimmage. So, I don’t really know how good we are in the secondary yet because to be perfectly honest with you we didn’t have a lot of time to throw the football. And that says something about the defensive line. So, that’s a long answer, but that’s about I believe what you needed and probably wanted to hear.”
Arkansas will return to the practice fields on Thursday. They won’t scrimmage again until the spring game on April 15 at noon.