FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas is ranked in both the Associated Press (20) and USA Today Coaches (24) Polls for the first time in five years.
On Monday, Sam Pittman admitted he thinks the Hogs should be ranked.
“Well, I think we should be ranked,” Pittman said. “I think we’re a Top 25 team, and I’m proud that we are. I’m not afraid to be ranked 20, 24, 1, whatever it may be. Those polls don’t mean a lot at this time, but to say I don’t think we deserve to be in the Top 25 is, I do. I think we deserve to be there. I’m proud that we are, and I don’t think it will affect the way we play.”
Arkansas defeated Rice 38-17 to open the season and then Texas 40-21 this past Saturday. After basically being the poster team for 11 a.m. kickoffs due to a mediocre product the Hogs will be involved in the 2:30 p.m. game on CBS against Texas A&M on Saturday, Sept. 25. Quite an accomplishment for a coach and team in just its 14th game under Pittman.
“I’ll be honest with you,” Pittman said. “I really found out about it 30 minutes earlier. I really haven’t had a whole lot of time to appreciate the question. I really haven’t had a whole lot of time to think about that. It will probably mean more if we beat Georgia Southern, you know.”
Super senior linebacker Grant Morgan was injured against Texas and Pittman was asked about his status for the Georgia Southern game?
“I don’t know how he’s going to be, to be honest with you,” Pittman said. “You know he’s tough. I expect him to go out to practice today and do what he can do. I think he’s still a little bit day by day. We’ll know a little bit more about him, how he feels, at practice today, as soon as practice is over.”
Defensive Surprises For Texas
Texas coach Steve Sarkisian said that Arkansas did some things on defense they hadn’t seen. Pittman talked about the scheme Barry Odom put together for the Longhorns.
“I just think, you know, we didn’t show any three-man front before that game,” Pittman said. “Now, we did last year. We clicked down into a three-technique on the backside, which last year we didn’t do. And we tried to shoot the three-technique through the B-gap. Basically, we knew they were a good stretch team, and we figured they were going to try to stretch it away from the back, which is true. Everybody does because it was offset and we were trying to shoot the three-technique through there. Which meant, if you’re blocking conventionally your backside tackle has to block him. Well, you can’t. I mean, it’s impossible. An old O-line coach myself, I mean it’s hard to do, and we were getting penetration in there. That’s part of it. There was a couple of new blitzes Barry had put in they hadn’t seen before, so I’m assuming – I don’t want to speak for coach – but I’m assuming that’s what he’s talking about.”
Four Running Backs
Arkansas had four running backs score touchdowns in the game on Saturday. Trelon Smith, Rocket Sanders, AJ Green and Dominique Johnson all found the end zone once. Likely to go with all four again this Saturday?
“I think so,” Pittman said. “I think they all bring a little something different to the game. Rocket’s got more of a powerful speed, an edginess to him. Dominique can make you miss. I like him, what he’s doing. Of course AJ’s really fast. I think we all saw that the other night and he had a really good practice. Proud of him. Then Smitty’s Smitty. He’s physical and runs hard and he’s a leader. So I look for us to put the best back in the game until he gets tired and then we’ll put the next one in there. I think it worked out well the other night.”
For Green the Texas game was his Razorback debut. He was injured in preseason, but now is back.
“We’ve seen him progress a lot in practice,” Pittman said. “With that concussion that he had earlier in the fall, he missed a lot of valuable time. We certainly wanted to see him get tackled in scrimmages – or not get tackled, however you want to look at it. So he started really having a good practices, playing faster. Again, those freshmen, they don’t know what the read is, what the play is, any of those things early. You can take a 10.3 guy and he runs 11.5 because he’s just thinking all the time. He understands the plays, what his reads are now. He’s playing a lot faster. I look for us to use him more and more each week. I think he’s a good player.”