FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas’ offensive line didn’t have its best day on Saturday in a 21-19 loss to Liberty.
On Monday, Sam Pittman explained what Liberty was doing that caused the Hogs issues.
“In the pass protection, they bulled us,” Pittman said. “We couldn’t handle the front of the pocket. It was getting collapsed back on KJ (Jefferson). They were taking away all the deep throws, most of them, and we were having to throw the ball underneath. I knew we were having trouble with their line movement whether it be with the blitz or the twist game. We struggled snapping the ball and things of that nature.”
Pittman was then asked how that happens against an offensive line that is very experienced and last week was graded the highest of any unit in Power 5?
“It’s hard to put a finger on it because all five of them have to play in sync, especially when you’re getting twists and movement games,” Pittman said. “When we would out a call or when we would go out to a potential blitzer, the looper would come back into the A-gap on the back side, and we were doubling the three up to the backside linebacker. We got caught a couple of times with that instead of just the whole line just run. I don’t know, we just haven’t had that, you know. So, the bottom line it was probably the runs that we were running into that. We tried to change it up and run some gap schemes later. Obviously, AJ Green came in and we were able to crease it a little bit there with that. It’s basically we just weren’t ready enough for the movement is what got us.”
Pittman talked about other defensive lines the Hogs have played who employed a similar tactic.
“Well, we’ve handled it,” Pittman said. “I can remember Georgia last year, that they physically just dominated us. But they ran their defense. It wasn’t a lot of movement. It was a lot of knock back. We’ve seen that.
Th”ey did the same thing against Wake Forest. Not the same, but a lot of similarities of their game plan against us was just like Wake Forest. To be honest with you, we simulated that. I don’t think we could simulate the flatness of their movement and the speed, and ultimately the speed got us.”
With No. 7 LSU coming to Fayetteville this weekend Pittman has told his staff to prepare for more such twist and movement.
“When I met with the offensive staff today, I told them we’d better get ready for it,” Pittman said. “They have shown it in a game or two. That’s not their forte, but it’s like anything. If you get a field goal blocked and you don’t fix it, you’re going to get another one blocked. And it’s the same thing here. They’re going to test us.
“They’re going to do what they do, because they’re having success, but they’ll be some type of line movement twist games in there on rundowns just because Liberty had so much success doing it.”
On the day, Rocket Sanders, who leads the SEC in rushing, had just 60 yards on 17 carries. Green had more success carrying six times for 56 yards. Both of Arkansas’ touchdowns were passes from Jefferson to tight end Trey Knox.