FAYETTEVILLE — Sam Pittman was very relieved after the 52-35 win over BYU on Saturday and joked about his plans for Sunday.
“Oh my God, could you imagine getting on that plane with losing?,” Pittman said. “Oh my lord. Hearing how terrible I am and all that. And how bad I need to fire KB (Kendal Briles) and all this kind of… Come on. The man scored, we scored 52… I’m not getting into that.
“But what I am getting into is I’m so happy that we won and I’m going to get on that plane with my beautiful wife and our team and enjoy the heck out of it. We’re off tomorrow and I’m off. I don’t know what I’m going to do. I need to go to church, but I don’t know what I’m going to do. But I know what I’m not doing — I’m not going into the office. We’re off.”
One benefit of the bye week is it will give Arkansas a chance to get some defensive backs and others healthy. Arkansas spent much of the BYU game playing without six defensive backs once Malik Chavis got his bell rung. Any chance of getting the team healthy for the Auburn game on Oct. 29?
“Yes,” Pittman said. “Look. I think so. I believe that we can have everybody except for Cat (Jalen Catalon) and DayDay (LaDarrius Bishop) back for Auburn. And we’ll see. But that’s what I truly believe.”
Myles Slusher, Jayden Johnson and Khari Johnson also missed the BYU game. Slusher hasn’t played since Alabama where he exited early while both Johnsons were injured in the Mississippi State game. Without six defensive backs, Pittman went to Barry Odom and told him to change the defensive gameplan.
“There was one point in the second quarter where I told Barry, ‘I don’t care if they run the ball on us for 400 yards. I don’t care. Make them run it,'” Pittman said. “And we went to our three-man line. And I didn’t! I was tired of seeing interferences and guys open and scoring. So was Barry.
“I said I don’t care if they run for 500 yards. Just make them run the football. It worked there right before half twice. Then it wasn’t so good on the opening drive they had in the second half. But we won the game. They’re doing about all they can do back there, trying to figure out who to play. We’ll get better. We’ll coach them up better. I was proud of the guys that went in the game and played. They played hard.”
Linebacker Bumper Pool finished the game with six tackles and talked about how adjusting to a three-man front worked for the Hogs on Saturday.
“I thought it worked really well at the end of the second quarter,” Pool said. “We came into halftime and almost felt like we had our identity back. We had some fight. Just being able to make a stop, go score, make a stop, go score, it just makes you feel like everything that you’re working hard in practice is paying off. Obviously, they make adjustments and then we just keep making adjustments. Credit to BYU and their coaching staff, but it was a great win.”
Count Pool among those who are thankful for the bye week. Pool has been playing each game, but has numerous injuries.
“We’re very excited to have a week off,” Pool said. “I think the entire defense needs it. Whenever you can go into a bye week with a win…like I said last week, similarities from last season. Getting a win going into a bye week. Getting healthy. Just important. Just super proud that we said we wanted to do it and we went out and did it.”
SEC Defensive Player of the Week Hudson Clark also is pleased to have the bye week. He finished Saturday’s win with 11 tackles, four solo, one interception and a fumble recovery.
“I think it was just huge for us to take a deep breath and relax a little bit going into next week,” Clark said. “I think it’s going to be huge for us getting healthy too.”
And Arkansas isn’t just going into a bye week, but one with a win to move to 4-3 on the season.
“I mean, that’s what winning does for you,” Pool said. “It can change your entire fan base’s opinion. So for us, we don’t hear the outside noise. It’s about making each guy in the locker room happy. I believe that, you know we went in there, it wasn’t pretty, but we fought, we won and I’m just extremely proud of the group, and I know they are as well.”
Rocket Sanders had 15 carries for 175 yards and two touchdowns including a 64-yard one that closed out the scoring. He also added one reception for four yards. He talked about the locker room following the game.
“It was good,” Sanders said. “It felt good with a win. This was a must win. So getting a Dub and then going on this little bye week we have, I feel like is going to get our minds right and we’ll be ready for the next game.”
Arkansas offensive tackle Dalton Wagner felt the win came at perfect time heading into bye week.
“They say a win heals all wounds,” Wagner said. “You feel a lot better going into the bye week. Mentally and physically now, you’re going to go into it a little happier, more elated to be there. I think it pushes guys to have that fire in them to finish out this five or six-game stretch we have coming back from the bye week.”
Quarterback KJ Jefferson also talked about getting the win as his offense piled up 644 yards including 367 and five touchdowns through the air.
“I mean, just playing for the seniors,” Jefferson said. “This is their last stretch. This is their last stretch, so just being able to play for one another. Also just being able to get this win and go into the bye week and rest and recover. That’s the main thing we want to do is rest and recover, get everybody back healthy. We need all hands on deck to go on this run. Just the mentality that Coach Pittman put in to go on this this run and finish it out.”
Arkansas and Auburn will kickoff at 11 a.m. on Oct. 29 and televised on the SEC Network.