Arkansas’ Defense Impresses Sam Pittman, Created Seven Turnovers

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FAYETTEVILLE — Ole Miss’ offense got all the headlines entering the game, but it was Arkansas’ defense that found a way to create problems for quarterback Matt Corral in a 33-21 victory with the Hogs getting seven turnovers.

Arkansas head coach Sam Pittman was all smiles after the victory. Except for a blown call by the SEC officials last week at Auburn, Arkansas would be 3-1 right now. Instead they are 2-2. Pittman was asked about Barry Odom, Arkansas’ defensive coordinator, following the game.

“Barry Odom is awesome,” Pittman said. “So is Sam Carter (cornerbacks), so Rion Rhoades (linebackers) and so is Derrick LeBlanc (defensive line). Those guys on defense get their team ready to play. They have all kinds of tendencies, Where the back is, who is inside, who is outside and where numbers are. They have it cut up for the kids and the kids obviously watch it.

“We’re talented. We’ve got a talented  group. We’ve got a resilient group. We have a group that can catch passes on defense and return them for touchdowns. I told the team (Grant) Morgan, if I’m a running back I might be a little bit worried about it. He took that back to the  house. They picked off six passes. They were in position to play well. Barry Odom is the real deal and I’m happy. He’s a great friend of mine and I’m also very happy he’s on the staff.”

Morgan won the Crip Hall Award as the outstanding senior. He finished the game with 19 tackles, including five solo, three tackles for loss, one sack, two pass breakups and an interception he returned 23 yards for a touchdown with 3:07 remaining in the game to ice the victory.

Entering the game, Corral had thrown one interception. Arkansas got him six times also forced him into a fumble in the first quarter. Hudson Clark had three of the interceptions. The redshirt freshman walk-on cornerback from Highland Park (Texas) is someone many hadn’t even heard of two week’s ago.

“”I was planning on getting seven when the game started, but we’ll take six,” Pittman said laughing. “Hudson Clark getting three interceptions that’s incredible. Then Cat (Jalen Catalon) took the early one back for a touchdown. Of course, Morgan did. That’s coaching, that’s playing, that’s being in position, that’s reading eyes. That kid Corral had one interception going into today. We picked him six times so that’s coaching and that’s players learning and obviously being able to get it done as well.”

And as far as people didn’t know who Clark was two week’s ago?

“Well, they’ve heard of him now,” Pittman said. “Three times at least.”

Ole Miss ran a fake punt on a fourth-and-10 play at its own 27. Mo Mo Sanogo raced 47 yards around left end to the Arkansas 26. Ole Miss running back Jerrion Ealy scored on a one-yard run with 5:30 remaining in the game. That cut Arkansas’ lead to 26-21. In previous years, Arkansas might have folded after that, but Pittman wasn’t having any of that discussion as it relates to his team.

“We’re into Week 4,” Pittman said. “I don’t want to talk about last year’s team to be honest with you. We’re in Week 4. Our team hasn’t rattled ever. I’m proud of them. I know what you are saying. You are giving us a compliment and I appreciate it. Obviously the defense made another big stop and went back and scored. Then they stopped them again. Clark picked another one. We finally got our running game going down to the one-yard line. We would just trying to go celebrate at that point.”

When Ole Miss pulled to within 20-14, Feleipe Franks and the offense went on an 11-play, 70-yard drive. The drive ended with Treylon Burks making a one-handed grab of a Franks pass and getting one foot down for a 26-14 lead with 7:36 remaining in the game. Pittman was pleased to see that drive.

“The drive when it was 20-14 was huge,” Pittman said. “Treylon, what a great catch he had in the corner. Man, we’re gonna have to do something about these two-point plays. We put it up to 14 and we don’t get it. But what a wonderful catch and outstanding catch he made. Just a really good drive by several of the guys. The O-line played well on it. You know what’s amazing? We can be a lot better that what we’re playing right now. Our kids understand that. I didn’t say I’m disappointed. I’m not disappointed at all, but I’m saying we can be a lot better. Especially at running the football and not making mistakes, but that drive was huge.”

Pittman was asked if he is pretty damn proud of the team tonight following the big win?

“You know what, you’re exactly right,” Pittman said. “I say damn too much, but I am damn proud of this football team. Who in the world wouldn’t be if you are an Arkansas fan? We always find something we have to get better at and we will. That’s our job, but our kids deserve to be happy tonight and celebrate.

“And yeah I’m proud of them, proud of our staff, proud of the state, I’m proud of the fans that were out here and I’m proud for them. Because tonight they get to go out and be what the Arkansas fans should be. That’s happy and celebrating and having their chest stuck out. That’s what needed to be done for a long time and we’re just honored to be a part of it.”

Arkansas will get a bye week before heading to Texas A&M for a 6:30 p.m. kickoff that will be televised on the SEC Network on Saturday, Oct. 31.

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