Many fans and pretty much our entire media world has spent more time talking about what happened in Arkansas’ loss to Georgia, but there’s a bigger issue now.
Barry Odom’s defense has to figure out a way to stop Mike Leach’s Mississippi State offense.
A week after not being able to stop Georgia when it counted last week.
“I was excited about the way our defense played,” Sam Pittman said at his weekly radio show Wednesday night.
A lot of people have jumped up and down at me about my comments about the defense this week. Yes, they played harder than I’ve seen since the Florida game in 2016 … but the results didn’t get any better.
When Georgia replaced redshirt freshman D’Wan Mathis (who simply was overwhelmed in his first college appearance), the offense ripped the Razorbacks’ secondary that was missing some players after the front (also missing key players) was worn out and couldn’t get much pressure.
Georgia had eight penalties for 73 yards in the first quarter alone. That would normally get anybody beat for an entire game. They will won by 27 points.
“They were a three-touchdown defense,” was how Pittman was spinning it Wednesday night on his defense giving up 329 yards over the last three quarters of the game. “The first two and a half quarters did build confidence.”
Anybody could see what was going to happen by halftime unless Georgia quit stopping itself.
“At halftime I was really, really excited,” Pittman said, primarily because he honestly didn’t expect to have a 7-5 lead because I doubt he thought Georgia could play that bad.
Pittman knew what Georgia had up front … on both sides of the ball. He coached the offensive line there for four years.
“I went up against those guys every day in practice,” Pittman said about Georgia’s defensive front.
While he knew about Georgia, nobody expected what Leach’s Bulldogs did to LSU in Baton Rouge.
Yeah, I know the Tigers were missing their best defensive back for some reason (non-Covid, according to reports) but when you can throw for over 600 yards it’s doubtful he would have made a difference.
The Hogs have had a collection of quarterbacks the last two years that couldn’t put up that many yards if the other team’s bus missed the exit and ended up in Alma.
And that’s who the Hogs have to face this week.
The Hogs’ defense is going to get scorched.
Mississippi State is just going to send most of the receivers deep and drag somebody all the way across the field. That’s what Leach has done since his first time in the SEC at Kentucky when they were blowing up scoreboards.
If the Hogs try to back everybody off the line of scrimmage they will run Kylin Hill, who is one of the best running backs in the league and Pittman knows it.
“We have to stop Kylin Hill,” Pittman said. “They are very talented.”
Arkansas’ offense is going to have to get rid of first-game jitters and quit playing a game of musical chairs like they did nearly the entire game against Georgia.
Feleipe Franks was trying to get everybody lined up then looking for the snap from center.
“He needs to be able to see what’s happening on the other side of the ball … not our side,” Pittman said. “We were out of sync all day on offense.”
It took away what Franks brings to the table, which is recognizing what the defense is trying to do and making the adjustments. He didn’t have time to look against Georgia.
If the offense can figure out how to keep up with Mississippi State, there is a question they will know what to do with it. They haven’t had a lot of practice and the Bulldogs have won seven of the last eight meetings between the two schools.
“We have to learn how to win,” Pittman said. “We couldn’t be facing an offense more different this week.”
But Pittman did drop a little nugget that was curious, although it didn’t get a follow-up and it makes you wonder what they’ve seen on film of Mississippi State.
“I like some of the matchups we have,” Pittman said.
It will be interesting to see if that plays out, but the sneaky guess here is that’s with Mississippi State’s secondary matching up with the Hogs’ receivers … if they can finally start getting consistently open.
LSU did throw for 345 yards against Mississippi State. They allowed seven sacks (as Pittman pointed out Wednesday night) and couldn’t overcome that.
If Arkansas’ offensive line can give Franks time and the receivers get open, it could be a pretty eye-popping final score.
We’ve seen that in this series before.