Nate Allen is a columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, Allen is a voter for the Heisman Trophy, has been inducted into the Arkansas Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame, and has authored three books about the Razorbacks.
Pittman won't holster best weapon
Arkansas running back Rakeem Boyd (5) carries the ball for a 52-yard touchdown during a game against Mississippi State on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019, in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE — For his first official game hired don’t expect Sam Pittman repeating his Arkansas predecessor’s last game before fired.
As a 27-point underdog, odds predict Pittman debuts losing to No. 4 Georgia today at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
Pittman predecessor Chad Morris last November closed his 10-game portion of his regime’s second consecutive 2-10 season. He was fired upon a 45-19 nonconference home loss to Western Kentucky.
One expected difference from Morris’ finale to Pittman’s debut: Don’t anticipate Pittman’s Razorbacks falling with their best weapon holstered.
Versus Western Kentucky, Arkansas running back Rakeem Boyd rushed an amazing 185 yards. More amazingly he compiled those yards on just eight carries.
The third embarrassing nonconference home loss in two years coupled with never winning an SEC game doomed Morris.
If he had any rebuttal in his next day termination meeting with Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek, running Boyd but eight times couldn’t have helped.
So even if the Hogs fall fast behind today, the rationale running Boyd less and throwing more playing catch-up against Western Kentucky, how important for Pittman staying patient running Boyd?
“Very,” Pittman replied. “You know we just have to play our game. And we can’t panic if things don’t go well early for us. We certainly won’t and cannot afford to get rid of our running game. Because we feel we’ve got a really good back and our line has improved tremendously. We just have to keep pounding it in there and see if we can’t break one.”
If there’s any Razorback that’s going to break one, it’s Rakeem Boyd. Those 76 and 86-yard touchdowns against Western Kentucky are among his five 100-yard rushing games as he amassed 1,133 rushing yards averaging 15 carries per game last year.
Barring injury, don’t ever expect but eight Boyd carries any game this entirely SEC 10-game season.
Pittman plots 18 to 30 carries per, he said on his radio show Wednesday night.
“Otherwise he’s just another good player you’re not using on your offense,” Pittman said. “Obviously you wouldn’t want to run him 30 times every game, but you want to run him to win the game. So whatever that number is, I think he can hold up and he’ll have success.”
Pittman describes Boyd, 6-0, 206, as “a big back who can run over you, he can run around you and he can run by you.”
He can’t do any of the above if they don’t get him the ball.
Pittman vows they will.
They’ll throw to him, too.
NFL scouts reported Boyd needs extensive work on his receiving.
Boyd’s 23 catches for 165 yards in 2018 and 19 for 160 last year would seem to rebut that.
“I mean, I thought I always caught the ball well,” Boyd said. “I don’t know where that came from.”
It baffles Pittman, too.
“He has done a really good job with catching the ball out of the backfield,” Pittman said. “We need to feature him as much as we can.”
Have a comment on this story? Join the discussion or start a new one on the Forums.