LITTLE ROCK — So many times in Arkansas’ football history the past 10 or so years they have let big underdogs hang around and it turn into a four-quarter game, but Sam Pittman’s Hogs had no part of that on Saturday taking a 45-3 victory over UAPB in War Memorial Stadium.
Arkansas took a 17-0 lead after the first quarter and was up 45-0 at intermission. Pittman admitted how the team came out ready to play was a big concern prior to the game.
“I’m not for sure as a coach that you’re more nervous playing today than playing A&M,” Pittman said. “I know that sounds silly, but you know your team is going to be as ready as they possibly can because of the name of the opponent. So, I was nervous. I was nervous about getting them up. We tried to work them in pregame. We kept talking all week that if we’ll prepare, something like this can happen, and they did. They really had a good week of practice. We weren’t always crisp, but the effort was good this week at practice. I think it was a big, big deal for us. I do. You’ve seen a lot of teams just like today that went into half 17-10. No disrespect, we did it with Rice. We were behind. We didn’t do that today, and it was a really good feeling of a little bit of maturity on our football team.”
Arkansas scored on its first two possessions to go up 14-0. KJ Jefferson hit Blake Kern for an 18-yard touchdown pass and then Treylon Burks sprinted 49 yards on the second possession. Pittman feels this game can help provide some momentum for the Hogs going into the bye week and then the Mississippi State game Nov. 6 in Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
“Well, honestly we needed to feel good again,” Pittman said. “We went through a rough stretch. Again, that’s not an excuse. We went through a rough stretch. That’s the truth. Coming back here today, to be up 45-0 at half was a big, big deal for us. It really was. It was for our coaching staff to sit in there at halftime and knowing we did what we said we were going to do. We did what we needed to do. Now, we have to get healthy next week, and we have to have a great game plan for Mississippi State. But we’re excited about trying to make another run. We’re excited about it, and our kids believe we can do that. This game helped us towards that.”
Linebacker Bumper Pool topped Arkansas with eight tackles on the day. He was pleased to only have to play one half.
“It was great obviously for our bodies,” Pool said. “I think me, Grant (Morgan) and Hayden (Henry) were trying to get as many tackles as we could in the first half, because we’re just competitors.
“But it was great to see our young guys. I thought they played well. DeDe (Edwards) played well, Pooh Paul, AP (Andrew Parker), (Jackson) Woodard. All those guys, it was great to see them in there.”
Burks finished the game with two carries for 56 yards and the one touchdown along with four receptions for 89 yards and two more touchdowns. He also liked the fact the starters took care of business in the first half.
“It feels good just to know that we got the win and just go into the bye week 5-3,” Burks said. “But it really came from this week that we prepared for. We went out every day and prepared like we were playing Alabama team. Just feels good.”
Jefferson finished the game with 10 of 17 passing for 194 yards and four touchdowns while also rushing three times for 33 yards.
“That was a great job for the starting guys on the offensive side,” Jefferson said. “I will speak on the offensive side we wanted to start fast and get the young guys in. Just show the crowd, the fans here the future is bright for the Arkansas Razorbacks.”
Defensive end Zach Williams was outstanding as well playing in his home town. He had five tackles, 1.5 for loss and a sack.
“The same thing with the defense,” Williams said. “We kind of wanted to just go back to how we did things a few games before that. We just wanted to start fast not do many mess-up calls saying gaps and everything else. I feel like we just wanted to go fast and let the younger guys play and just get some experience.”
How big was it to get the sack in front of a lot of family here in Little Rock?
“I had a lot,” Williams said. “I remember my parents said at least a dozen. There were more people out in the tailgate and of course watching, so it did feel good that got my sack for my hometown because it means a lot. It doesn’t really mean a lot to everybody else outside of Arkansas, but it means a lot to people inside Arkansas. It was a historic moment, 70-something years since we played this team. I’m grateful enough that I got a sack, so I was really happy about that moment. I’m going to remember it forever.”
Arkansas is now 5-3 and needs one win in November to become bowl eligible. What does that say about this team?
“Well, I don’t know,” Pittman said. “I don’t think we have a kid on the team that was here that ever played in a bowl game. I think Grant and them may have went. I don’t know if that’s an accurate statement. I’m telling you that’s what I think. So, it would be a big deal for the University of Arkansas and our fans, I believe, for us to get another win or two or three or four or whatever that is and go to a bowl game. This got us one away from it. I think we’ll be very hungry to do that. Some teams bowl games are ‘Hey, I want to go to this bowl or that bowl’ or ‘Oh man, why didn’t we go to this bowl.’ Our team, we want to go to postseason play and we want to earn it. So, I think we’re one away, and I think we’ll be ready to play.”
Arkansas has a bye Saturday, then Mississippi State at home, at LSU, at Alabama and then finish up with Missouri at home.