Matt Jones is the online sports director for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A double graduate of the University of Arkansas, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, and voter for the Heisman Trophy.
Recapping what Sam Pittman said at the start of Ole Miss week
Arkansas head coach Sam Pittman runs out onto the field, Saturday, October 2, 2021 during a football game at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Ga. Check out nwaonline.com/211003Daily/ for today's photo gallery. .(NWA Democrat-Gazette/Charlie Kaijo)
Highlights from Arkansas coach Sam Pittman's meeting with media members during his weekly news conference Monday.
• Pittman called playing Ole Miss "a great challenge and a really good football team."
• On containing Ole Miss QB Matt Corral, Pittman said there are not as many designed runs this year and more passing. He said the key will be to "push the pocket and set the edge to where there is nowhere to go." He said Corral will pick apart a defense if he is given time to throw.
• Pittman said he went back and watched Corral's interview following the game in Fayetteville last year when the Razorbacks intercepted him six times. He said he expects Corral to be motivated.
• Pittman said there must be "wrinkles on defense" to keep Corral guessing. He said Arkansas can't do the exact same thing it did last year.
• On Arkansas and Ole Miss only falling five places in the AP poll following big losses over the weekend, Pittman said it reflects the voters' respect for Georgia and Alabama.
• Pittman said he thinks Corral's success overshadows the success of the Rebels' running game, which led the SEC last year. He said Ole Miss runs a similar offense to Arkansas. The Rebels' OC Jeff Lebby is the brother-in-law of Arkansas OC Kendal Briles.
• Pittman said he thinks Ole Miss is better defensively this year, due in part because of transfers.
• Pittman said he hopes his team will learn from the Georgia game in terms of preparation for an early game. He said the team could use a different mindset. "I think everybody saw we just weren't ready for the grand stage yet."
• Pittman said several players mentioned the crowd at Georgia was the loudest they have experienced.
• On the blocked punts, Pittman said the protection has changed since last year. He said the blocked punt against Georgia was different than the one against Rice, which he cited as a mental error. He said against the Bulldogs, the Razorbacks had two mistakes — the right guard on the shield did not block the rusher correctly and the punter was outside the area where he should have stood.
• Pittman said the team will do "do something a little bit different this week" on its punt protection.
• On kickoff returns, Pittman said he wants to return anything that is 1 yard deep in the end zone or shorter. But he said Georgia's kicker put a lot of air under his kicks, which made the coaches change their minds after the opening kickoff when AJ Green was tackled at the 17 after returning it from the 1.
• Pittman said he will look at different combinations on the offensive line this week, including Jalen St. John and Ty'kiest Crawford at the interior positions. He said he wants to evaluate whether the line can be more physical on the interior of the line.
• Pittman said he thinks the team "is doing things right, we just have to do them better." He said the penalties need to be cut out.
• Pittman said it is important to keep doing things the same way this week. He said if he starts changing the way he operates, it sends a message to the players that he is panicking.
• He said he will not let the Georgia loss cost the Razorbacks a game at Ole Miss this week. "I’ll be damned if Georgia’s is going to make us lose this Ole Miss game."
• On the Arkansas-Ole Miss rivalry, Pittman noted he has been part of some memorable games in the series. "To be honest with you, Arkansas-Ole Miss ought to be a rival game....It's working its way into that more and more."
• Pittman said QB KJ Jefferson is healthy, "absolutely 100%." He said he took Jefferson out of the Georgia game to keep him from possibly getting injured.
• Pittman said Lane Kiffin's father, legendary NFL defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, attended one of his high school football games in 1978 in Oklahoma. Monte Kiffin was the Arkansas coordinator at the time. He said he does not know Lane Kiffin well.
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