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 leading into UAPB game week
Arkansas coach Sam Pittman is shown prior to a home game against Auburn on Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021, in Fayetteville.
• Pittman said he is educating players this week on the history of the Razorbacks playing in Little Rock. "I think it's what makes Arkansas, Arkansas, that we've been willing to take the team to the central part of the state. I certainly remember when that happened when I was in high school and it happened a little bit here when I was an assistant coach."
• Pittman said the team is "too beat up" to go full pads the entire week. He said they will practice in shells today and will cut back on practice length and physicality. "We just don't have enough depth to do that right now. We would do it whether we were playing Auburn or playing Arkansas-Pine Bluff....That's not being soft; that's being smart."
• Pittman said the team will bus to Little Rock and back. The Razorbacks bussed to Little Rock and flew back when Pittman was an assistant coach from 2013-15.
• Pittman said he made a mistake last year when the team bussed to Missouri because it was too far.
• "Even as old as I am, I wasn't born at that point," Pittman said of the last time the Razorbacks played an in-state opponent in 1944.
• Pittman said he thinks it is exciting for the state to play in-state teams.
• Safety Jalen Catalon had surgery on his labrum this morning and it went well, Pittman said. Catalon has already been in the football building today.
• Pittman said he thinks Catalon will come back for the 2022 season, but said Catalon "will know the answer better than me."
• Pittman said safety Myles Slusher played well in Catalon's absence against Auburn. "He played better than I thought he would." He noted Slusher has battled some injuries in the past.
• Pittman said Malik Chavis will get some looks at playing more safety this week. "He's done a nice job and worked hard. I'm looking forward to seeing him play."
• Pittman said tight end Hudson Henry has been hurt a lot this season and finally got healthy prior to the Auburn game. He said he thought Henry played well and blocked well, and is in the plans to play in future games.
• On Ed Orgeron's resignation at LSU, Pittman said he hasn't spent much time thinking about it. "It's the nature of the business. People have to make those decisions." He said he thinks it would be difficult to continue to coach the team for the remainder of the season after making the decision.
• Pittman said tackle Dalton Wagner (finger surgery) should be back for the Mississippi State game on Nov. 6. He said the healing process for that surgery is 21 days, which would put Wagner back for the Monday before the Mississippi State game.
• Pittman said UAPB plays two quarterbacks and tries to block every punt, which is "scary." He said the Golden Lions play hard and have speed, but have had some injuries that have hurt them.
• Pittman said running back Dominique Johnson is not touching the ball enough. "Every time he seems to run the football, good things happen. To me, he's probably got to double his load because he's proven he's a really good player."
• Pittman said the Razorbacks are averaging more than 90 snaps the past two games, which he said is tiring. He said quarterback KJ Jefferson was not as crisp throwing the ball or running the offense against Auburn.
• Pittman said the Razorbacks have had players in the right position defensively, but haven't made the play. He said he doesn't know if that is due to fatigue or something else. He noted there can be a drop off between first teamers and second teamers. "With our (first-team defenders) we've got a really good football team."
• Pittman said he thinks the Razorbacks will "make a run" at the end of the season. He indicated the bye week following the UAPB game will get the Razorbacks fresh and healthy, which will benefit the team in November. He said lighter practices this week will help, too.
• Pittman said he expects "the best they have" from UAPB. He said the Golden Lions aren't as big as teams the Razorbacks play, but have speed, "enough size" and play hard.
• Pittman said he thinks it is smart to schedule UAPB instead of scheduling other schools in the SWAC, which benefits UAPB's rivals financially.
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