FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas has had some issues in the red zone and that was something Sam Pittman talked about on Monday.
Arkansas been inside opponent’s red zone 26 times this season and came away with 19 scores. Of those 19 scores, 15 have been touchdowns while the other were Cam Little field goals. Pittman expressed some concern about the red zone issues and talked about how to get more touchdowns.
“Well, I think the good part of it is we have KJ (Jefferson) as a runner,” Pittman said. “We’ve turned the ball over in the red zone, that’s hurt us. I’ve always believed that if you can run the ball consistently in the red zone that you’re going to score, which we haven’t done that on a consistent basis. And I think we need to move the pocket a little bit more to get KJ out on the edge and get him a run-pass option out there and he’s been good with that. Obviously we need to score more touchdowns and some of those are the reasons we haven’t, probably.”
On Saturday, Arkansas was down 14-0 when they took over the football for the second series in the game. After a false start, Arkansas had a first-and-15 at its own 20. Malik Hornsby immediately took off on a 52-yard run to the Bulldogs 28. The Hogs drove to the Mississippi State 1-yard line. There on third-and-goal play a pass was incomplete. The Bulldogs then stopped Rocket Sanders on a fourth-down run.
Sanders did get a red zone touchdown with 1:11 remaining in the first half. Hornsby found wide receiver Jadon Haselwood for a 68-yard pass play to the Mississippi State 3-yard line. It was an impressive two-play, 71-yard drive that saw the Hogs pull within 21-10.
The Razorbacks missed a great chance to score again in the red zone on their second possession of the third quarter. A 44-yard completion from Hornsby to Haselwood gave Hogs a first down at the opponent’s 19. Four running plays by Sanders moved the ball to the Bulldogs 1-yard line. On second and goal, Dominique Johnson was stopped for no gain. On third down, Hornsby overthrew a wide open Matt Landers. On fourth down, Rashod Dubinion was stopped for no gain. Which brought up another question why are the Hogs with a veteran offensive line having so many issues making third and short?
“Well, we had a missed assignment on the goal line,” Pittman said. “We let the 3 technique go, and that was one of them. We’ve got to cover up the front-side edge somehow. That would be either with bringing in one of our wideouts to cover it up or having 12 personnel, have another tight end on the front side. Because we had no chance on the fourth and 1 unless Malik just keeps in and then he walks in. But that wasn’t in his read. It’s about getting the right movement and getting the right back in there, your best short-yardage guy. I felt like we ran high during those situations, as well. Not necessarily on the fourth-and-1 because there was no chance. I mean, they closed it down and there was no chance.
“On the other ones, I felt like we need to understand we have to get the ball in there, both up front and the running back. I think we might need to get the ball outside on some of those situations, as well, because everybody’s piling in there on us. I think the big answer is get somebody to handle the front-side edge, a tight end or a wide receiver, you can still stay in that personnel as big as our wide receivers are, and then find a running back, the line’s gotta move them and we need to. We tried on the third-and-1, a fake off of what we’ve normally been handing the ball to the off-set back, and we just couldn’t get open. And that was on me. I said, ‘Hey, you got two plays here, let’s try to get a touchdown off this play action.’ It just didn’t work.”
Pittman is happy with the overall play of the offensive line.
“I’m pleased with the way they play,” Pittman said. “I’m not pleased with the details of what’s going on. In other words, I think they play well together as a unit. But obviously – and I talked to Cody (Kennedy) about it as well – the snaps, the false starts, they have to stop. And I get it, if you’re going to have a false start on the road. I get that. But right now, until we start playing a little bit better, we can’t afford anything self-inflicted, and we’re doing way too much of that. I thought we had played pretty well. I didn’t think we played well last Saturday as a unit there.”
Arkansas and BYU will kickoff at 2:30 on Saturday.