FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas hired Sam Pittman on Sunday, Dec. 8, to replace Chad Morris who was fired following a loss to Western Kentucky.
Pittman retained one coach, Justin Stepp, from the previous staff. People thought the past 2-3 years at Arkansas were strange with home losses to not only Western Kentucky, but San Jose State, North Texas and others. Arkansas hasn’t won an SEC game since a 2017 victory over Ole Miss in Oxford.
Yet, now if there is a season in 2020 the new staff will have to go to battle without the benefit of a spring practice. The coronavirus has shut down schools and jobs all across the world.
Redshirt freshman safety Jalen Catalon talked about the fact there’s no spring practice for the Hogs this year.
“Every team in the country is dealing with this, so it’s just who is going to make the best out of it and stay on top of things as far as mentally and physically,” Catalon said Friday. “So far we’ve handled it really well. I think it would have been good for us to have spring ball. I wanted to get out there for my first spring ball, but that’s life. Sometimes you get hit with something.
“Who is going to respond when things like that happen? I know based off the attitude we’ve had throughout this whole process, I know that as a team we’re handling it really well and I know people are taking care of things on their own – not just physically football-wise, but academically, too, and mental-wise. I think everybody is doing great with it and when we finally get back on campus and get back into things, I think we’re going to be one step ahead based off our production so far.”
Senior linebacker Grant Morgan also talked about the lack of 15 practices this spring.
“I’m not going to say it’s a huge blow for us just because we have a (first-year) coach, but it sucks,” Morgan said. “Life is about two things: the things that happen to you and how you respond to them. We’re responding really well.
“We’ve got to look in hindsight. Every other team is going through this right now, so why can’t we benefit from it more than anybody else? We’re trying our hardest to take one step above everyone right now and use it as an advantage. This isn’t a threat to us, it’s an opportunity. To see that every other team is having to go through this right now, it’s not a thing we’re going down on because we know we can’t control it, but we can control our mindset to it.”
Junior wide receiver Mike Woods also talked about the lack of reps for the team. The offense is new with Kendal Briles in charge. Do the lack of reps concern you?
“As far as being concerned, no we’re not concerned because we’re still keeping up with the system and the playbook and stuff,” Woods said. “On top of that, everybody in the nation is going through it. We just got to do what we can do to get that step ahead of everybody else right now in this time right here, so we can come back. We just got to do what we can do to get that step ahead of everybody else right now in this time right here so we can come back, whenever we’re allowed to come back, and just come back and be able to click. Just jump into things and not have to repeat stuff that we already went over and stuff that we’re going over right now.”
The Razorbacks will hold four hours of virtual meetings this week. They had two hours last week.