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.