Hog Calls:

Focus shifts to getting stronger

By: Nate Allen
Published: Monday, November 28, 2022
Arkansas coach Sam Pittman is shown during a game against Missouri on Friday, Nov. 25, 2022, in Columbia, Mo.
( Hank Layton, NWA Democrat-Gazette )
Arkansas coach Sam Pittman is shown during a game against Missouri on Friday, Nov. 25, 2022, in Columbia, Mo.

FAYETTEVILLE — Regardless of Arkansas’ outcome in its to-be-announced bowl game, the Razorbacks will have rueful reminders about getting outmuscled by Mizzou.

Missouri’s Tigers only edged Arkansas 29-27 last Friday in Columbia, Mo., but physically “whipped our butt,” Arkansas Coach Sam Pittman said.

An umpteen years offensive line coach until becoming head coach for the 2020 season, Pittman reacted immediately to his line being outperformed in three of its last four games, especially at Missouri.

Reports circulated Saturday morning that Pittman fired strength coach Jamil Walker. The very same Walker that former Georgia offensive line coach Pittman proudly brought with him from Georgia, along with fellow assistant strength coach Ed Ellis.

Pittman consistently bragged on Walker and annually raised Walker’s pay for bulking up the too-thin offensive linemen inherited from Arkansas’ failed Chad Morris regime.

No Pittman postgame praise in Columbia.

“They out-physicaled us tonight on both sides of the ball,” Pittman said. “They had the more physical team tonight.”

Arkansas suffered seven sacks. Better had the Hogs suffered eight. Harassed quarterback KJ Jefferson threw an interception that led to a Mizzou field goal while miraculously escaping would-be sackers.

“They whipped our butt,” Pittman said. “That’s what happened. They did it in the run game, and they did it in the protection game. We got dominated physically is what happened.”

Meanwhile Mizzou quarterback Brady Cook rushed for 138 yards on 18 carries and completed 16 of 26 for 242 yards and 1 touchdown. He was sacked twice.

“I thought Brady Cook was the difference in the game for Missouri,” Pittman on radio told the Razorback Sports Network. “We couldn’t get a stop in the first half.”

Arkansas’ defense adjusted in the second half, holding Mizzou to a touchdown and a field goal. But Arkansas, miraculously leading 21-20 at half despite being outplayed, mustered but six second half points on two Cam Little field goals. Little kicked his second after the Hogs advanced naught three times starting first-and-goal at the 2.

“We tried it three times and we were still on the two, and I decided (with 12:40 left in the game) to kick a field goal,” Pittman said. “ I felt like we could stop them. Obviously we never got back in field goal range after that.”

Two weeks earlier in the 13-10 loss to SEC West champion LSU, Pittman went for it on fourth-and-goal from the LSU 2 and didn’t convert.

Turns out a Little field goal would have sent that game into 13-13 overtime.

After Arkansas’ surprising 9-4 season in 2021 when so much broke right, damned if you do and damned if you don’t signified much of this 6-6 campaign. Arkansas lost 3 games by 2 points, and 1 game by 3.

Many fine lines separate these 9-4 and 6-6 teams. Apparently Pittman points first to strength and stamina for a line not finishing fine.


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