FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas is set to continue brutal road stretch in its schedule as they face No. 16 Ole Miss in Oxford on Saturday night.
The Hogs have already been to LSU and played Texas A&M in Arlington. They will finish this four-game stretch next week when they take on Alabama. LSU (4-1, 1-1) is coming off a 55-49 win over LSU this past Saturday in Oxford. They opened SEC play with a 24-10 loss at Alabama the previous weekend. Sam Pittman knows Arkansas (2-3, 0-2) faces an explosive offense led by quarterback Jaxson Dart, running back Quinshon Judkins and wide receiver Jordan Watkins.
“Oh man,” Pittman said. “Well Dart’s really good. I mean really good. Those two running backs, I think they’re as good as anybody has. Both of them. They’re good. Judkins is really special. The transfer from SMU, 24, is really good, and he’s a kickoff returner as well. Their line, you know they’ve got three veterans, center over right, and they went in the transfer portal and got a couple good players on the offensive line. But you know, I think coach, he runs the ball quite a little bit. I would too if I had them running backs, like we’re trying to do. But you see a lot of explosives. For us to win, we’re going to have to cut those explosive plays out. And that’s 4 going up the middle of the field as well.”
Pittman talked about what the Hogs have to do to get a win.
“For us to win we’re going to have to cut those explosive plays out,” Pittman said. “That’s 4 going up the middle of the field as well. But they basically run four running plays, basically is what it is. Off of that they have either RPO or read from the quarterback. And Dart’s a lot faster than I want him to be (smiles). But they’ve got playmakers everywhere. I think they’ve got three receivers over 300 yards catching. Just really scary. I mean, they’re explosive. I think we’ll have a good game plan as always. And their tight end’s a good player. I don’t think he played maybe week two and three, but he’s back now and he’s a good player.”
Arkansas lost to LSU 34-31 and Texas A&M 34-22. Pittman is 2-1 against Lane Kiffin with the lone loss a 52-51 thriller in 2021 in Oxford. The Razorbacks have won both games in Fayetteville.
“I think the first thing you think is offense, you know,” Pittman said. “We’ve got to score a lot of points to stay in the game. You think of Lane Kiffin, and what a … I don’t know, the world ‘mastermind’ or whatever. He’s as good a play-caller as there is in the game. So you think of those two things.
“Pete Golding has done a great job with their defense. I know obviously they have up some points Saturday night. I guess that’s why people like college football, because of games like that. It was incredible. They are much better up front than they have been on defense, and now they’re knocking the hell out of you from the back end.
“But when you think of the series, it’s been a fun series. We’ve had some success in the series since I’ve been here. Obviously we got bowl eligible last year playing Ole Miss. I have a lot respect for them playing over there … The last time we went over there it was a morning game, if I’m correct. But I think it’s going to be one of hell of a game for the fans to watch, and we’re excited to go over there. But you think about the offense and all the points and all the playmakers they have.”
Dart is more known for his passing, but he has rushed 51 times for 269 yards and four touchdowns. He hurdled a would-be tackler on Saturday against LSU. Pittman was asked if he had seen that play?
“Well, Dart, like I said before, he’s fast,” Pittman said. “Ole Miss, it looks like they’re having fun, and he’s jumping over people. And to answer your question, I’ve seen every play they’ve had this year — offense, defense and special teams — so I’ve seen them. That’s why I look a little tired. (Laughs) But yeah. The thing about him is he’s a great passer, but he’s just fast and athletic.”
Pittman explained the differences in LSU from the Alabama game to the one against LSU.
“I think schematically [there were differences] as well,” Pittman said. “Schematically, I think there was two different schemes ran, two different coverages, things of that nature. Alabama’s front four, their two ends, had put quite a little bit of pressure, and they couldn’t run the ball quite as well as they did against LSU. [Against] LSU, they had success. It’s hard to stop somebody if they’re having success both in the run and in the pass.
“You’ve got to make them one dimensional. I think Alabama maybe had an opportunity to do that a little bit more. Here’s the bottom line: they missed some plays against Alabama or that game could have been different, too. They had some guys [open], and things they hit against LSU, they just missed against Alabama. But Alabama, they’ve been playing that defense for a long time, and they’ve got big, physical guys. I just think the different was they weren’t able to run the ball quite as well as they did against LSU. They didn’t quite hold up as well against Alabama’s front four as they did against LSU, which allowed Dart opportunities to make some plays.”
Pittman was asked if he’s confident his defense, led by Travis Williams, can limit the explosive plays by Ole Miss which is a must for Arkansas to have a chance to win?
“Yes, I am against a really good offensive team and that may be limiting it to 5, might be limiting it to 3,” Pittman said. “They’re going to get some. You know it, I know it; everybody knows it. You know what I mean? It can’t be 10, can’t be 12,. Can’t let them get behind us, LSU obviously did. To answer your question, yes. I am confident in our defense, and I think they are making huge strides as the season’s gone on.”
The kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. on the SEC Network.