FAYETTEVILLE — The University of Arkansas will leave for Starkville today prior to Saturday’s game against Mississippi State.
The Razorbacks will depend on the offensive line to help an offense get untracked against a Mississippi State defense that recorded seven sacks in a win over LSU in Baton Rouge this past Saturday. Redshirt freshman left guard Brady Latham talked about the Bulldogs’ defensive line.
“I was really excited,” Latham said. “The whole unit was really excited to play Georgia. It was awesome having them be my first game. It was a big challenge and we’ve got a lot we need to work on but we’ve been practicing really hard in practice this week and I was excited to be out there. It’s always exciting to be on the field and I’ve got great guys around me so that was really comforting out there on Saturday.
“And then with Mississippi State this week it’s another challenge and we are really excited. They are a great team. They played great last week. We’ve been really focusing today and yesterday about playing hard and being a physical team and I think up front the whole team has been doing a really good job so far.”
Sam Pittman said he expects to start the same five against Mississippi State that started the opener. That would include sophomore Ricky Stromberg at center, redshirt freshman Beaux Limmer right guard, redshirt sophomore Noah Gatlin right tackle and senior Myron Cunningham at left tackle joining Latham in the lineup.
“Well, as of right now we are,” Pittman said. “I think we’re comfortable with 7-8 guys. Starting-wise, I think it’ll be very similar to what we saw last week. We are trying to get some continuity. The problem was injuries, and of course the virus and things of that nature. It was very hard at times to get that, but we’ve been good this week. I think we’ll be able to play the guys that’s played side-by-side and who started last week.”
Latham talked about the job Mississippi State’s defensive line did against LSU.
“Their D-line had a great game,” Latham said. “We’ve been scouting them in film and Coach (Brad) Davis has got a great plan for us in pass pro and in the run game. We’ve been working it all week and I think all of the guys are locked in so we’ll be ready for that on Saturday. And I think the whole unit is locked in and we’re ready for the challenge.”
Pittman talked about eight different Mississippi State defenders being involved in the seven sacks.
“Well, it just shows they have a lot of team speed,” Pittman said. “A very good schematic defense. They do a lot of movement and a lot of line games and their guys are quick and fast. It does cause a problem because there’s not just one of them. One of them you could run a tight end over the top of him, you could chip him, you could double him, you could do all that. But when there’s so many guys that get to the quarterback, you just have to play fair ball at that point. Certainly we’ve been working on all those type stunts and blitzes this week.”
Latham said Davis and Pittman have given the offensive linemen feedback on how to improve on their Georgia performance.
“They really talked to us about finishing plays and playing hard,” Latham said. “Those are things that crossed the whole line. We’ve got to be mentally sharp every play. We can’t check out. Those were the kind of things that were critiqued. That’s the things we’re working on to fix right now.”
Latham, who played at Jenks (Okla.) High School, talked about the things he can take forward from his first start this past Saturday.
“I took away a lot from that game,” Latham said. “It was a lot of experience. A lot of great chances to learn. Just body leverage, physicality, how fast the game is at this level. You’ve got to keep your eyes up. There are a lot of things. You’ve got to have good hands. When you’re good up against a great opponent you have to be technique sound and be mentally sharp. So those are a lot of takeaways I took from the game.”
How did you feel after the game considering it was a physical one?
“I felt good after the game,”Latham said. “A little sore, but we got in and worked out and I got the soreness out. I’m feeling good. My body’s feeling good. It was a physical game, but I think everyone on the team welcomes physicality. That’s good for us.”
Pittman has talked about Latham getting in fights during practice. Latham tried to downplay it.
“I mean, at the end of the day we’re all teammates,” Latham said. “What happens doesn’t every carry over. Everyone’s just working hard at practice. Practicing as hard as they can. Everyone has the same goal in mind. I don’t think it’s necessarily great to fight with your teammates, but it is a physical game. You need to do what you do between the whistles.”
Arkansas and Mississippi State will kickoff at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday night in Davis Wade Stadium. The game will be televised on the SEC Network Alternate.