FAYETTEVILLE – Arkansas coach Sam Pittman focused on this week’s Razorbacks game against No. 2 Alabama, but on Wednesday night he took one last look at the 16 win. -13 in overtime at LSU last week.
Speaking on his weekly radio show at the Catfish Hole restaurant, Pittman said winning a rivalry trophy was important to his team.
âWhen we got the Southwest Classic Trophy it was a big deal for our team,â said Pittman, referring to the Razorbacks’ 20-10 victory over Texas A&M in September. âWinning against A&M was a big deal, but they wanted this trophy.
âWe got a big deal on the Boot last week. We knew where it was going to be located and I told them as soon as the game was over, go get it.
On several occasions, Pittman has praised his defense play at LSU. Arkansas allowed just one touchdown and forced the Tigers to three turnovers.
âI think we did more of the blitz in this game than we did in my two years here altogether,â Pittman said. âWe pursued them. The defense worked well.
Pittman was particularly laudatory to his corps of veteran linebackers led by Bumper Pool, Grant Morgan and Hayden Henry.
“Our group of linebackers on Saturday night performed exceptionally well,” said Pittman. “Pool, Henry and Grant they played as good as you could play.”
Morgan made 11 tackles against the Tigers. Three days later, he was named one of three finalists for the Burlsworth Trophy, which recognizes the country’s best player who started his career as an extra.
Morgan was also a finalist last year. Other finalists this year are Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett and Troy Carlton Martial linebacker.
âI think he deserves it,â Pittman said of Morgan. âI want him to win. He came back for a super senior year and that would be good for him the rest of his life.
Pittman praised how his high school performed at LSU. He said safety Myles Slusher, who was propelled into the starting lineup after All-America safety Jalen Catalon had end-of-season surgery, settled into his role.
“I think Myles mostly played a really, really good game the other night,” Pittman said. âI think he’s gone from ‘I’m nervous, I’m a little scared of what’s going on here’ to ‘I can see everything better. I’m winning the pre-snap battle. ‘ I think that’s why he plays so much faster and more aggressive.
Pittman knows his defense will be challenged this week in Alabama. He said the Crimson Tide had remnants of what he called perhaps the best offensive line in college football history a year ago and was led by Hesiman Trophy leader Bryce Young , at the quarterback position. Pittman also praised Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams and running back Brian Robinson.
âWe talked to the team about the fact that we were going to run and Alabama was going to continue, and that was about how fast you can stop the race,â Pittman said.
âYou’re not going to beat the scoreboard, you’re going to have to play through the score. I think that’s what we did against Mississippi State (in a 31-28 win two weeks ago) because at one point there it was dark and then we went down and won the game.
Pittman was also high on the Alabama defense.
âThey’re filled with talented guys defensively,â Pittman said. âWhen you think of Alabama, for years, you think of their defense because of Nick Saban. You keep thinking that. For fans, Will Anderson is probably as quick an end as there is. In the country, on the other side is Dallas Turner and then they have these big guys (guards) and three techs in there.
âTheir corners can cover and their safeties can knock you out. They’re in Alabama, they’re very, very talented, a very good team. It’s a SEC West team. There are a lot of good teams in SEC West. Alabama is one of them and at this point it’s the best in the West.
Pittman said the Razorbacks have worked in practice this week to reduce pre-snap penalties that have been problematic throughout the season.
âWhat we were doing obviously wasn’t working,â Pittman said. âNo one wants to jump offside on either side of the ball. We’re working on it all the time and this week we did something different. Hope this pops up and helps us on Saturday.
Pittman has indicated he would like to see the ball go to wide receiver Treylon Burks more than he did in the LSU game, when he was limited to four catches for 16 yards.
âLSU did a good job defending against him but that doesn’t mean we can’t hand the ball back to him, put some sweeps in his hand because he’s very dynamic and difficult to face,â Pittman said. .
Wednesday’s show was Pittman’s regular season finale. Due to a conflict with an Arkansas basketball game, Pittman’s regular show for next week has been moved to December 14 and will be a bowl preview.