FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas will face the monumental task of defeating No. 1 Alabama on Saturday in Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
The Hogs haven’t defeated the Tide since Sept. 23, 2006. Sam Pittman was the offensive line coach at Arkansas from 2013-15 and was on the sideline when the Tide escaped Fayetteville with a 14-13 win on Oct. 11, 2014. That was one year after the Tide defeated the Hogs 52-0 in 2013. Pittman was asked this week what do you have to do to beat Alabama?
“The only way you can beat Alabama is you think you have a good enough team to beat ‘em,” Pittman said. “I think you go back to 2013, we go to Alabama, I’m not for sure, and I don’t want to disrespect any of the kids that were on that team, but I’m pretty sure there wasn’t 100 percent of the guys that felt like we could win. They beat us 50-0, something like that. I do know this: the next year we went in there. They came here in 2014 and we had a team that believed we could win.
“It’s like any great high school tradition or any great college tradition. Half the teams are beat before they ever walk out on the field. So I think a lot of it is belief. And then obviously against the caliber of a team like that, they’re going to have to give us the ball, give us some extra possessions, things of that nature. Which they have not done all year, because they’re beating the heck out of basically everybody they’re playing. So part of it is, we have to get a break here or there. Maybe several breaks. And we can’t turn the ball over and give them opportunities. You have to play a real clean game, but you have your football team believe that you’re going to win the game.”
Full 10-Game Schedule
In a year when many in the national media predicted there would be no college football the Hogs are set to play their tenth game of the season on Saturday. Pittman is pleased with that.
“I’m proud of our league, I’m proud of the SEC,” Pittman said. “I’m proud of our team. We did have to take the one week, the week of Thanksgiving. But the very next week we rescheduled and were able to play Missouri. Alabama is on their 10th game and Florida is on their 10th game. What a great job by the coaches and the players of each team that we were able to get this season in.
“Don’t know if I’ve been on a team that was underdogs in every single game they played. But I’m very proud of our football team, that they believed that they could win every one of them. And I think they’ve proven that by the way they’ve played, and I don’t think that will be a problem on Saturday. So I’m really happy with what’s going on in our league, and really, really proud to be a part of it and happy with the accomplishments our league has had this year.”
Freshman TE Collin Sutherland
Arkansas has played short handed at tight end most of the season. A true freshman who is redshirting is Collin Sutherland. Pittman talked about how Sutherland is progressing.
“I think he’s developing as a blocker,” Pittman said. “He’s a big, physical kid. Route running, he’s got to continue to improve there. I think we’ll see him developing into a 2, a 3 possibly when we come back through spring ball. But I’m pleased with him and his effort and the things he’s done. He’s a very smart kid, so I think we’re going to have value there.”
Pittman Not Getting That Fine
Pittman made sure he didn’t get fined by the SEC or anything when asked about a terrible unsportsmanlike call on safety Joe Foucha at Missouri last weekend. Pittman was asked if they had been previously given a sideline warning?
“No,” Pittman said. “It was called unsportsmanlike conduct. What do you want me to say?”
Did you agree with it?
“You said you had a two-part question,” Pittman said with a wide smile. “What was the second part?”
Cornerback Malik Chavis
Redshirt freshman Malik Chavis from Rison saw some action against Missouri when Montaric Brown was injured. Pittman praised Chavis on Thursday.
“I like him,” Pittman said. “He’s big, he can run. I think he’s got a bright, bright future. I really like the kid. Got a beautiful smile about him, great demeanor about him and he can run. The thing I like most about him is that he can play corner and safety. He’s got the speed to play corner, so he brings a lot of value to the team. I’m not positive if we had spring ball he wouldn’t have really gotten a lot more reps this year. But we just weren’t able to get the spring in. I’m really, really excited about him and his future.”
Buy In, Direction of Program
Saturday will be the final regular season game for Pittman’s Hogs. He was asked about the buy in and the direction he feels the program is going?
“I love the team,” Pittman said. “There’s been some heartbreaking losses that you wish you had made a play here or there. At Auburn. At Missouri. And, obviously at LSU. We’re 3-6. They beat us. That’s the bottom line. They beat us. I wish we could have gave this football team, this state, a couple more wins on the left. Another couple of numbers on the left. A&M and Georgia and Florida, they’ve got a little bit more depth, and things of that nature, at this time than we do. The other teams we match up very well with, and I don’t know that we did in the past.
“So, I’m very excited about the future. I love the kids, and I love that they’re bought in and how hard they play. We’ve been down several different games this year. Everybody remembers that we were up 14. Nobody remembers that we were down 10 at Missouri, and the momentum was going the wrong way. This football team will fight you, and they’ll play hard. And I’m not saying they wouldn’t in the past. I’m not saying that. You asked me a question, ‘What I’m proud of?’ I’m proud of how hard our football team is, and how much they care about each other and how much they listen, how coachable they are but I wish we had more wins for them.”