FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas will begin a three-game home stand to close out the regular season beginning with Auburn on Saturday at 3 p.m.
On Monday, Sam Pittman held his weekly meeting with the media. He obviously is pleased to get home as well as having defeated Florida on Saturday.
“Excited to get back home against a team in Auburn that is playing really well and has won two SEC games in a row,” Pittman said. “They want to run the football, very powerful football team. Quarterback can run. They’ve got a couple of running backs. (Jarquez) Hunter is really good. Good offensive line.
“They are a very physical team defensively. Multiple fronts. Probably a little bit more 4-down, maybe 60-40, and then they go into mint front. Quarters team. Very aggressive. A lot of twists. A lot of movement. They’re very good on special teams. They’ve got one of the best kickoff return guys in the country. He was an All-American last year. We are looking forward to coming home. I think we’re close to capacity, and we’re awfully appreciative to the fans of Arkansas for continuing to support us.”
Arkansas piled up 481 yards of total offense on Saturday in the 39-36 overtime win over Florida in The Swamp. It was Kenny Guiton’s first game as offensive coordinator for the Hogs. Did that performance earn Guiton a look as the permanent offensive coordinator?
“The first part of that, absolutely,” Pittman said. “I really don’t know how I could not look at him after that performance. I have spoken with him about that a little bit as well. About our timeline and what we’re gonna do. Absolutely. And then I think what you would do at that point if you decided to say in-house is figure out what position he felt most comfortable coaching from that coordinator spot.
“Certainly, we haven’t made that decision yet, but I don’t know how he could have done a better job than what he did on Saturday to be perfectly honest with you. With everything. Just imagine you had fall camp and you played that way your first game. Then you add all the things that went on and you had a two-week window to prepare. I thought he called a freaking great game and had them off balance. I thought he did a great job.”
Pittman was very impressed with Guiton’s composure during the game. That was Florida’s first loss of the season at home. They had defeated Tennessee earlier in the season.
“He’s got a lot of swag about him,” Pittman said. “He’s got a lot of confidence. Not overbearing now, but he’s got a lot of confidence. The kids can feel it, kids have a lot of confidence in him. I don’t know, KJ (Jefferson) has a lot of confidence in him. I think KJ played by far his best game this year, Saturday. I thought Rocket (Sanders) did too by far. Now I know he’s only played in two, two and a half games. But, that has a lot to do with passion and pride and confidence, and that’s what Kenny brought to them. But he believed too now.
“And I never questioned anything that he called because he called what we practiced. In practice we’re going to throw it down there possibly, we knew the safety was going to be low and we could get behind him. When he called it man, I got tight. I’m going, ‘Oh my god, where is it going?’ The ball is in the air and I didn’t stay tight too long. (Tyrone) Broden made a really, really nice catch. KJ threw it to only where Broden could catch it, so I’m so happy for Kenny and the program and the state and everybody else. It was a big run for us.”
In the win over Florida, Arkansas lost its second tight end for the season. Against Texas A&M, freshman standout Luke Hasz was lost with a broken collarbone. On Saturday, Ty Washington, who has been outstanding replacing Hasz, suffered an injury.
“Tyrus, he has a dislocated shoulder,” Pittman said. “Probably will involve some surgery. So, he will be out. We’re going to move Hunter Talley up. We’ve got some opportunities with (Shamar) Easter and (Maddox) Lassiter. I just think in this short period of time, Hunter Talley knows the offense better than the other fellas do, and he’s really looked good on the scout team as well. So, we’ll move him up to be No. 4 there.”
Patrick Kutas also was injured against the Gators. The right tackle was replaced by Ty’kieast Crawford.
“Kutas, I don’t know if we’re going to get him back this week,” Pittman said. “He’s got a high ankle, so I just don’t know. From what I understand, depending on how high it is depends on the weeks. It’s not an extremely high injury. (Devon) Manuel played really well. Ty’kieast Crawford brought some juice, too. I was really pleased and excited for Ty’kieast. We’ll let them battle it out this week, but I would anticipate Ty’kieast being over there at the right side because he earned that. He played well. Then Devon and (Andrew) Chamblee would be the left side guys. I think Chamblee would be our best bet to play both. So, we would probably have him be our rotational tackle as well.”
Wide receiver Andrew Armstrong also left the game early. However, his news seems better than that of Washington and Kutas.
“Armstrong, I think, is going to be just fine,” Pittman said. “We’ll know a little bit more at practice today whether he’s cleared from his headache. But I think he’s going to be fine. (Isaiah) Sategna, he did some good things for us. I was upset with him on the first punt, but once I watched it on film, the ball really took a bounce to our left. I’m not for sure that he could have comfortably tried to field that ball. But he did a really nice job. Caught two or three passes right there in a row that made some really good yards on it. Feel like he’ll just continue to get better and improve.”
Saturday’s game will kickoff at 3 p.m. and televised on the SEC Network.