Like It Is:

Hogs finally past 2 years of agony

By: Wally Hall
Published: Sunday, October 18, 2020
Arkansas coach Sam Pittman is shown prior to a game against Ole Miss on Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020, in Fayetteville.
Photo by Charlie Kaijo
Arkansas coach Sam Pittman is shown prior to a game against Ole Miss on Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020, in Fayetteville.

Sam Pittman, after just four games, has created one of the great turnarounds in college football.

The Arkansas Razorbacks — once a feared and heralded football program — couldn’t win an SEC game, couldn’t win at home, couldn’t even beat San Jose State.

Today, they are 2-2 in the SEC. If not for one bad officiating call, they would be 3-1.

On Saturday, the Razorbacks beat Ole Miss 33-21. While Pittman and his staff did an incredible job of preparation — and also putting aside last week’s bitter loss to Auburn — it was the guys who have embraced the first-year head coach who got it done.

A lot of game balls could have been awarded last night, starting with the defense.

Going into the game, Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral had thrown one interception. He now has seven after the Hogs picked him six times, including three by Hudson Clark. The redshirt freshman walk-on deserves his own headlines.

Grant Morgan and Jalen Catalon were spot on perfection at the right time when they had pick-sixes.

It was a defense that bent but refused to break, giving up 442 yards but only three touchdowns to a team that had 647 yards of offense in a 63-48 loss last week to mighty Alabama.

In that game, the Rebels converted all four of their fourth-down attempts. They converted five against Arkansas, but more importantly failed four times, twice on goal-line situations,

The past two seasons — when the Hogs went 4-20 overall and 0-16 in SEC play — the offense spit and the defense sputtered. Since last season, there has been a complete overhaul in attitude that started with trust.

Pittman has created an environment of respect and trust.

He has favorites. They are the ones who come to practice and play hard on every down.

Pittman is proving a lot of schools made a mistake by not giving him the chance to turn their program into a winner.

What this team has developed in a really short time is a belief in themselves — individually and as a group.

There was a time Saturday when the game was on the line.

Ole Miss had taken the momentum in the second half, but faced a fourth and 10 from its own 28 when the Rebels caught the Arkansas return team not paying attention.

The Rebels lined up for a punt but short-snapped it to linebacker MoMo Sanogo, who raced 47 yards for a first down. Three plays later, Ole Miss scored to make it 26-21 with 5:30 to play.

Arkansas’ offense responded with one first down and a punt, and it felt like Ole Miss was going to escape.

Instead, Morgan read Corral’s every move and got the interception that he returned 23 yards for a touchdown with 3:07 to play.

The offense will get some game balls, too.

First in line would be Treylon Burks, the sophomore receiver from Warren who missed last week’s game against Auburn but came back with a vengeance. He had 11 catches for 137 yards and a touchdown, and he also had 4 carries for 46 yards.

There are too many individuals who made a difference in the win to name, but it was a team effort — which is proving to be the norm with a Pittman-coached team.

This is not a team that will challenge for the SEC championship. Not yet. But there is absolutely no doubt it is two years ahead of where anyone thought it would be right now.

The Razorbacks held the No. 1 offense in the SEC to 21 points, and the offense managed the game enough to stay on the field 30:29, which allowed the defense to catch its breath.

Most of all, they proved the last two years are really history.

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