FAYETTEVILLE — Sam Pittman discussed the running game, which is still a hot topic with BYU coming to Razorback Stadium on Saturday, while also providing injury updates on two key players.
Running back Raheim “Rocket” Sanders will be out again this week. Cornerback Dwight McGlothern, who only had one play on Saturday, should be back. Sanders’ left knee is swollen and McGlothern had turf toe.
“Rocket will be out this week and then we’ll figure out how fast he can recover,” Pittman said. “Got to get some swelling off of him. Once we do that, we’ll see how fast [we can get him back]. Whether we can have him back for LSU, I just don’t know right now.
“No, he (McGlothern’s turf toe) got it on Thursday. Late in the practice on Thursday. We thought he was going to be OK then he went out there and said he couldn’t push off of it. In all honesty, (Kee’yon) Stewart played a good game. Had one ball caught on him there, but played a good game and it’ll help us in the future with that. But I expect Nudie back this week.”
Arkansas rushed for 105 yards in the opener against Western Carolina. They improved that to 172 yards this past Saturday. Pittman talked about the offense only getting nine drives the entire game and Kent State’s plan to keep the ball.
“Man, I tell you what,” Pittman said. “In all honesty, I thought they — how you can convince your team of ‘This is how we’re going to win.’ I guess it’s the old Dean Smith four corners, you know what I mean? Especially with the clock the way it is. What was the game, 2:45? Then you start pressing because you’re supposed to win by a bunch of margin. It didn’t go so well at first.
“Here’s what I saw. We’re not covering. Our fits up front have to get better. In other words, everything’s getting popped out to safeties. And we’re not making any of them miss either. So we’ve got to make safeties miss. We quit putting RPO on the back end of it. We weren’t particularly throwing the ball well either. Weren’t catching it. So we, at some point Dan (Enos) and I had a conversation about ‘We’re going to win the game and let’s see if we can establish and get our run game going. And we tried several different things. We found out some things we can do and some things that we can’t do. How we could take the ball with the last six minutes and displace the line of scrimmage like we did and not do it at the beginning, we’ve got to figure all that stuff out. But the bottom line is this: Our fits aren’t good at tight end. They’ve got to get better. Our fits are not good consistently up front. They’ve got to get better. Our blocking on the outside, on the edge, it’s got to get better.
Pittman also pointed out some of the offensive possessions that ended quickly weren’t all because of the running game.
“Our catching game,” Pittman said. “We had two third downs where we drop the ball. We stay on the field. The game could be much different. Those things we have to get better. But after I saw that, I actually thought we played better last week than we did this week up front. But I didn’t think we played too bad actually last week up front. This week it’s all about edges. It’s about displacing linemen when we’re in double teams. The only time that we truly displaced their D-line was at the end of the game. The last six minutes.
“Those things have got to become more consistent. I think Beaux (Limmer) has to become a more vocal leader. He’s got to go. I think having Brady (Latham) back will help us. But we have to get better there. We’re addressing it. We addressed it last week. It may not be just a quick fix. I think where we’re going in the order of how we’re playing our games is gonna help us with a new coordinator. And there were some mistakes. A new coordinator. Try to continue to figure out exactly what we do well, what we do well. But you have to do something well. And I think our backs have got to run harder.”
Pittman was asked considering the team has three new, inexperienced starters on the offensive line and a new coordinator is it realistic to expect them to run the ball as well as his past teams have?
“You know, it’s just a different offense,” Pittman said. “I think that whenever you go hire new coordinators, that’s your biggest fear, that something that’s worked well in the past doesn’t any more. We’ve had our trouble running the ball the last two years at times, but we’ve been pretty consistent running the football. So no, I don’t think that’s… I can promise you whatever the concern would be — no, that’s not true because they’re concerned a little bit more than me about different things. But the concerns of the fans certainly, I can promise you we want to win and have success as bad as anybody. So that’s valid. We gotta find a way to fix it.
“I’m not for sure, I think I might have said it the other night, that having RPOs on the back end of some things, it can dictate the numbers in the box. Unless they’re just willing to play man-to-man coverage the whole night, which our league probably will. But if you’re not having the threat of throwing the ball, which we took away, then you’re going to get a loaded box. That’s what happened. Then it becomes frustrating. I said I’ve never been around a team that couldn’t run inside zone and we haven’t had success with it. It’s either we’re not getting the movement, our fits aren’t good, it’s kicking outside to an unblocked safety. So all those things we went in-depth with yesterday about how can we give our kids the best way of winning and it doesn’t necessarily have to be running the football, but you have to run the football to win, in my opinion.”
Arkansas will be at home Saturday night to host BYU at 6:30 p.m. on ESPN2.