Sam Pittman Wants Team in Better Condition With Season Nearing

Local Sports

FAYETTEVILLE — Following Friday’s scrimmage at the University of Arkansas, Sam Pittman once again talked about the conditioning of the team.

Following the scrimmage, Pittman spoke with the media during a Zoom conference.

“I think we have to get in better shape,” Pittman said. “We’re not there yet, nor did we think we would be. It was hot out there and we had a very lengthy scrimmage. Not an injury. We stayed free, as far as I know, of injuries. So I was proud of our kids to get through the first week basically in pads.”

Pittman was asked if the practices being spread out more this year due to NCAA restrictions made it tougher to condition them?

“I think it’s a good point,” Pittman said. “I think the practices being spread is a good point. However, we do run whenever we lift, as well. I think any time that you have that lengthy of a scrimmage and it’s hot, I’m not sure that you’re ever ready for it, whether it’s mentally or physically. Especially… You know how it is when you don’t know what’s coming and the next time you know exactly what the expectation is, how long it’s going to be, how many plays do I have, I think the next one will be much better because the kids will have a better understanding of what a scrimmage here is like.

“But I think we just have to transition better on and off the field. We talked to them about it last week. I think we have to push ourselves and a lot of it goes back to that mental toughness. I think we have to continue to express mental toughness in our program and if we do, I think that’ll help us in getting in shape, as well, because instead of jogging off, we’ll run off the field.”

Since the team did conditioning for several weeks before football started what is the difference in game-shape and just general shape? Also did no spring practice play a factor in this?

“Well, to be honest with you, the spring, not being able to practice, should really affect us that much as far as in-shape goes,” Pittman said. “It would certainly affect you in understanding the game and understanding the offense, defense, expectations. The kids don’t really know your football expectations until you get out there. They know expectations of going to class and weights and running and sprinting, but they really don’t know the expectations of what you want out of each and every drill and each and every period when you go to practice. And they’re high.

“So I think understanding that standard has helped them. The other thing about game shape or practice shape or things of that nature. A lot of times you’re in shape, but your mind won’t let you go because you’re thinking of something that just happened, mostly bad – a big play happened on you. Your mind affects your whole entire body. You have to be, like I told you a lot time ago, we have to be a mentally tough team and if we can continue to work on the mental toughness, I think that mentally we’ll be in better shape, I believe that. I believe we practice hard, I believe we have plenty of conditioning, but I believe our mind needs to be stronger so we can work through those situations. I don’t necessarily think we’re in bad shape. I think we just have to be a stronger football team mentally.”

Along with the conditioning, Pittman is wanting to make the team mentally tougher. He talked about how how he’s going about that.

“I think the one thing we’ve done is we’ve incorporated a lot more one-on-one tight end-linebacker, O-line/linebackers, a lot of one-on-one competition,” Pittman said. “I think you can find out a lot about a man if he’s in a one-on-one situation and there’s no one to blame. It’s not the right guard, left guard, the corner, the safety. We’ve tried to put them in a lot more one-on-one situations to see how they react. If they get beat, I want it to bother them. If they win, I want them to be happy about it.

“So, we’ve done quite a bit more physical one-on-one, winner-loser-type situations so we can see who can handle getting beat and come back. Will they come back the next time and win the rep or at least compete for the rep? So it’s been a physical two days, to be honest with you. It’s been a lot of one-on-one, man-on-man. Football is just a bunch about who wants to whip somebody else’s tail. That’s what we’re trying to get done in individuals.”

Arkansas will practice today.

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