FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas has played seven straight weeks and it appears the wear and tear has taken its toll on the team as they fell to Auburn 38-23 on Saturday.
The Razorbacks were playing without three starters on defense, but even beyond that they seemed a half step slow at times on plays they made against Texas and Texas A&M earlier in the season.
“I think we all feel like crap,” Pittman said. “I think we all do. I think we’ve got a beat up team, to be honest with you. Our team is beat up, and this bye week can’t get here fast enough. I think we’ve got a physically beat up team. They’re trying, but if you see the plays we were making earlier in the year, we’re not making them now. Sometimes we are, but most of the time we’re not. I just think we’ve got a beat up football team.
“We need to get ready and play for Pine Bluff next weekend then take that week off. We need it. If you didn’t think we physically just got whipped today, we did. On both sides of the ball. That doesn’t mean if they’re better than you that you can’t counter that with blitzes and some things of that nature and with play action and all that kind of stuff, but that’s what we tried and they were better than we were today.”
Arkansas was without talented safety Jalen Catalon, cornerback LaDarrius Bishop and defensive lineman Markell Utsey. But also two calls by the officials both went Auburn’s way. On the first one, Arkansas thought they had forced a fumble at the Auburn 15, but it wasn’t ruled that way. Did the officials say they had blown the play dead?
“No, it was said that they had picked the ball carrier up and that meant that the ball now couldn’t be a fumble,” Pittman said. “So I don’t know. I mean, I don’t know. Last week I thought Rocket (Sanders) was stopped whenever they pulled the ball out of there. But maybe not. I don’t know.”
The second call was a pass interference against Hudson Clark when it appeared the ball was uncatchable. Without using that as a reason for losing Pittman did admit it’s frustrating not to catch a break on the calls.
“Well, it’s bad because we had such a big start to the season, and now we’ve lost three in-a-row,” Pittman said. “That’s on the head football coach, and I’ve got to figure out why. I think I’ve got reasons why, but yeah, it gets frustrating. You’d like to catch a break here and there, but yeah, it gets frustrating.”
Not catching a break could also be said about losing Catalon, one of the defensive captains for the remainder of the season.
“Catalon is going to have his shoulder worked on Monday,” Pittman said. “He had a little bit of a tear front and back that a lot of kids play with throughout the year. Then he broke his hand. You kind of have two injuries. Mentally, you could see his wasn’t playing his type of ball, tackling like he had earlier in the year and this, that and the other. I think it’s time for him to get that shoulder fixed. It was a decision that he came and talked to me and that’s what we came up with. I think it’s best for Cat that he gets fixed, and that’s what he is going to do on Monday.”
Pittman also talked about the injuries to Bishop and Utsey and said they were in this same situation at times last season, in part, due to COVID.
“Day Day had a strained groin,” PIttman said. “It had kind of been that strained groin muscle. Excuse me, he had a hamstring. Not a groin. He had a hamstring. We knew that. He had it on Monday, but it wasn’t bad. It seemed to tighten up a little more as the week went on. I don’t know how much he played today. I don’t know if he played at all.
“We did it last year all the time. It was just COVID. Maybe the other team did too because of COVID. I don’t know. We knew all week Cat was not going to be able to play. We were prepared for that. Utsey got hurt on Wednesday. I don’t know if he’ll be back next week or not, but I feel pretty confident he’ll be back against Mississippi State.”
What kind of impact can losing a player such as Catalon for the season have on you?
“I don’t know,” Pittman said. “You saw today. I don’t want anybody to get hurt, but injuries happen in a game and you just have to replace them and get ready, and that’s what we tried to do today.”
Arkansas (4-3, 1-3) will be in Little Rock on Saturday to take on UAPB at War Memorial Stadium with an 11 a.m. kickoff. Then Arkansas will have a bye week and thus two weeks to prepare for Mississippi State.