Pittman: Sategna's chances at WR must increase

Arkansas wide receiver Isaiah Sategna (16) warms up, Saturday, Sept, 16, 2023, before kickoff against BYU at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville. Visit nwaonline.com/photo for the photo gallery.

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas receiver Isaiah Sategna’s explosiveness as a punt returner has been evident in the opening three weeks of the season.

The redshirt freshman returned a punt 88 yards for a touchdown last Saturday to give the Razorbacks a 14-0 lead over BYU early in the first quarter. Thanks to that play, he enters Week 4 second nationally with 154 punt return yards.

He is four yards behind Southern Cal’s Zachariah Branch for the FBS lead.

But the Razorbacks have been slower getting the former Fayetteville High School star involved in the passing game.

He has 3 catches for 19 yards, and 2 of the catches and 14 of the yards came in the season opener against Western Carolina.

What will it take for his role to grow on offense? Arkansas coach Sam Pittman said Monday it begins during the week leading up to a game and is not as simple as Sategna improving as a run blocker.

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“I think he’s got to catch the ball more consistently in practice. He’s getting better at that,” Pittman said.

Sategna is listed on the depth chart for Saturday’s game at LSU as the backup to Jaedon Wilson at one of the three receiver spots. Praised in the preseason by Pittman for a mindset change following the 2022 season, Wilson has 7 catches for 130 yards and 1 touchdown.

Beyond a 65-yard touchdown in the opener, Wilson has 6 catches for 65 yards. He has also dropped three passes on 10 targets, according to Pro Football Focus. No other Arkansas pass catcher has more than one drop.

Pittman hinted there may be some movement at receiver or snap reallocation against the Tigers.

“You also have guys that aren’t catching the ball 100% [who are] in front of [Sategna],” Pittman said. “It’s just opportunity for him [and] it has to increase a little bit more.

“We’ll figure it out to where we might can get him on the field a little bit more.”

Transfers Andrew Armstrong (156) and Isaac TeSlaa (152) lead Razorbacks receivers in offensive snaps, and Wilson and transfer Tyrone Broden are third with 91 apiece, per PFF. Sategna has played 40, ahead of only freshman Davion Dozier (5).

Arkansas finding a reliable third option at receiver would benefit quarterback KJ Jefferson as well as alleviate some playmaking responsibility from Armstrong and TeSlaa. The duo has accounted for 28 of the team’s 57 receptions.