Photo courtesty of @RazorbackFB on Twitter
How about those Hogs?!
Through four games, Sam Pittman has pumped juice back into this program.
But let’s not give all the credit to the first-time head coach. University of Missouri alum Barry Odom has engineered a historic turnaround on the defensive side of the ball. While Arkansas’ defense was record setting last year, it was for all the wrong reasons. Giving up 36.8 points per contest in 2019 was the worst mark in school history. Taking it a step further, John Chavis surrendered 39.9 PPG against conference foes. This year? 25.5. The competition has been no slouch either, matching up against the future SEC East champs, the Air-Raid offense, a Gus Malzahn offense, and a Rebel offense that put up 48 against Nick Saban the week prior. These first four games have seen some really good offenses.
Arkansas has a few stats that rank #1 in all of college football defensively. And finally, 10 interceptions leads the country. Three defensive touchdowns is a tie for first place alongside Army, Syracuse, Kentucky, and Texas Tech. Three interceptions returned for a touchdown is a tie for first place alongside Kentucky. Another cool stat, the Hog defense has allowed 5.6 yards per pass attempt, which is good for 3rd in the country for teams that have played more than one game and 1st in the SEC.
Enough with the stats for a minute. Barry Odom should be handed the Broyles Award, given to the best assistant coach in college football. Even more fitting, the honor is presented in Little Rock and is named after our legendary Athletic Director Frank Broyles. Since we are on the topic of awards, how about the Burlsworth Trophy, which is an award given annually to the most outstanding FBS college football player who began his career as a walk-on. Hudson Clark, please stand up! This is award is also named after a legendary Razorback. No Hog coach/player has ever won either of these awards. Time to change that this season.
I typed up a paragraph without a single stat. Something felt off, so back to the stats. Per Connor O’Gara of Saturday Down South, Arkansas led for 126 minutes in Chad Morris’ two years in Fayetteville. In four games under Coach Pittman, Arkansas has already led for 142 minutes. See it for yourself right here. Another way to look at it; Arkansas has led for 59% of play so far this season. Under Chad? 13%. Nothing short of remarkable. One more stat, Treylon Burks and De’Vion Warren have collectively eclipsed the century mark in receiving yards three times during this young campaign. How many times did a Razorback accomplish that feat in a conference game in Morris’ offense? Zero.
The future is bright in Fayetteville. Coordinators will come and go, but Sam Pittman has made it clear Arkansas is the place he wants to be. He even jumped on SportsCenter with Scott Van Pelt and reaffirmed his love for the state of Arkansas and his willingness to retire here.
Six games remain. Halloween night in College Station is ultimately the battle for second place in the Western division. Crazy, right? I see this team picking up two wins the rest of the way. Alabama is really the only game you look at and cringe. I have a lot of confidence going into Columbia and walking out with a victory. I also think we split the Tennessee and LSU games, both in Fayetteville. 4-6 (should be 5-5) would be a helluva first season.
Hog Nation, we found our guy.
Now, TURN THAT DAMN JUKEBOX ON!