Andy Hodges

There really aren’t any more excuses for Hogs’ failures in another blowout

Nothing should be acceptable for fans after a 27-point loss because it was a complete train wreck and there are no more acceptable excuses.

Sam Pittman made a telling comment after the game when he was talking about a complete faceplant by the special teams that could have applied to everything.

“We’ve just got to coach better and execute better,” Pittman said after another blowout, 37-10, in the 20th straight SEC loss for Arkansas.

When the Razorbacks clung to a 7-5 halftime lead that sounds more like a Dave Van Horn score, then pushed it to 10-5 by capitalizing on a Georgia fumble, some folks got their hopes up.

It was crystal clear from the first half the only reason they had any lead is because the fourth-ranked Bulldogs were stumbling over themselves as much as the Hogs’ defense was stopping them.

Oh, there were some bright spots on the defense for Arkansas in the first half and that’s going to get a lot of hopes up for fans and others who’ve spent a lot of the last three seasons making excuses for failure.

In the second quarter, the Hogs managed to have 43 yards of total offense and just four yards of it came on the ground. Rakeem Boyd couldn’t get anything done and it really wasn’t his fault.

Boyd was not a factor, getting just 21 yards on 11 carries. There’s no way to excuse what folks hoped was a drastically improved offensive line failing to open enough of a hole for one of the best running backs in the league to do more than average 1.9 yards a carry.

“It was tough sledding in there,” Pittman said about Boyd trying to run inside. “He was going to have to make his own.”

That’s coach-speak for the offensive line wasn’t able to block the Bulldogs’ highly-touted defensive front. Nobody expected them to blow Georgia (or anybody else) off the ball but you figured they might at least get a crease or two.

When it didn’t happen it made life a lot harder on quarterback Feleipe Franks, who didn’t have a big day (19-of-36 with two interceptions for 200 yards and one touchdown).

In a way it wasn’t that bad considering the difficulty quarterbacks usually have trying to complete passes from a horizontal position or with really large, angry, people running full-tilt at you.

Again, the offensive line couldn’t block anybody.

The defense really didn’t play great, either, after the first quarter when you have to wonder if quarterback D’Wan Mathis ever fully recovered from nearly being decapitated in the first quarter by a legal hit from linebacker Bumper Pool.

“Not for sure if we didn’t get wore down a little in the second half,” Pittman said later. “Those plays we were making in the first half seemed like we might have been a half-step behind in the second half and they got a little bit stronger and were breaking some tackles.”

Don’t use the corona virus and lack of spring practice and altered conditioning as an excuse. Georgia had the same problem. Kirby Smart’s staff made better adjustments at halftime, opened up the offense a little more and everything changed.

Maybe the biggest problem with the defense in the second half was a lack of any help from the offense.

Georgia kept the Hogs backed up near their own goal and, bless their hearts, the offense couldn’t do much to flip the field.

Again, no excuses from Pittman, who had a view similar to mine in that situation because the offense shouldn’t be looking behind them from their own 10-yard-line.

“”You also have 90 yards of free space,” he said. “We need to get the ball out of there. We cannot keep doing that to our defense. We have to be better on offense to help ’em.”

Special teams was expected to be drastically improved and that didn’t work out, either.

“We didn’t play well,” Pittman said. That was an understatement.

The Bulldogs ended up with 148 yards on punt and kickoff returns plus blocked a punt before the ball got from punter George Caratan’s hands on the drop to his foot.

Pittman was somewhere between mystified and ticked-off later on how that could even happen.

“The guy just ran right in the middle of our wedge and blocked the punt,” he said, scratching his head. “From what I saw they had two guys run in the A gap into our wedge and blocked the punt.”

That’s not supposed to happen, which is why there are three guys standing in front of the punter.

“They really dented the integrity of the shield (wedge) and that’s where the punt block came from,” Pittman said.

Ultimately, it all led to nothing much changing. Don’t give me that nit-picky stuff.

When you get beat at home by 27 points you have problems and I don’t care if it was the No. 4 team in the country.

Missouri at least stayed within 19 of second-ranked Alabama at home and Vanderbilt went on the road and scared the daylights out of Texas A&M in a 17-12 loss.

Now this program is just three losses away from tying the Commodores for the longest streak of futility in the SEC (23 in a row).

Let that sink in for a moment.

There are no more acceptable excuses for the failure of Arkansas football. Don’t give me a bunch of nit-picking about this looked better and that looked better because the Hogs still got beat by 27 points.

Pittman isn’t offering any. He gave the usual coach-speak after the game, which is what he has to do these days to avoid hurting any tender feelings … publicly.

Privately, he and this staff are probably much more blunt and direct.

Now the fans need to quit making excuses for failure.

7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Jon Dunlap

    September 27, 2020 at 8:31 am

    What a load of crap . Guy inherited a team that won 5 games in 3 years and you think he is going turn it around and beat a top 5 team in front of that 16,500 Hugh home field advantage week one of his career. Anyone that couldn’t see the difference in that team yesterday from the last couple of years is just a dumb clown. I am tired of losing too but the writer of this article is just an idiot.

  2. Steve

    September 27, 2020 at 12:43 pm

    I completely agree with the first comment. This article is terrible.

  3. Tyler Emerson

    September 27, 2020 at 1:09 pm

    I agree with Jon. I’m not sure the writer knows what they are talking about. Our defense appeared more aggressive and had much better tackling fundamentals. Franks accuracy was solid. I would’ve liked less short passes considering we were outmatched at the line. But no one was surprised by the ending. It’s the improvements that we are looking for this year, not wins.

  4. Mark

    September 27, 2020 at 2:50 pm

    I agree with Jon. Someone so disparaging toward this team and staff in the aftermath of their very first game together after the last few years have been such a dumpster fire has no business reporting on Razorback sports. Give the writer clown makeup and a bozo wig because that is just about the amount of credibility he is bringing to the table.

  5. Chris Raper

    September 27, 2020 at 5:11 pm

    I agree with you guys , noone is making excuses, all I can hear out of most is they played hard , the oline was not good and led to our offense struggling, leading to the defense to get wore down., We got to install quick plays and get our skill players looking for the ball quickly. I have confidence in Sam’s ability to take this film , find some positives and build off that

  6. Whitetail

    September 28, 2020 at 10:43 am

    This guy is right up there with Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports, both looking for all the negatives. What a dumbass about the O-line. Half of em are Freshman and Sophomores. Give em a little break. They started under Chad Morris regime. Pittman will get them straight in time.

  7. Bill Cossey

    September 29, 2020 at 10:14 am

    I didn’t care for the commentators calling the game nor the comments in this article. This is a very young team and they will make mistakes but they looked better than last year. Any one with common sense can see that. You think I should have played harder what I saw was young playing hard and learning football the SEC way. Give em a break coach is doing a wonderful job stay off his back and this article sucks.

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