FAYETTEVILLE – Sam Pittman said Monday his Arkansas Razorbacks should be sufficiently roster restored to play Saturday’s 11 a.m. SEC Network televise game at Missouri postponed from last Saturday.
Last Saturday’s game, still set this Saturday for Mizzou’s Faurot Field in Columbia, Mo., was postponed because the Razorbacks were under the SEC protocol healthy roster limit due to positive covid-19 coronavirus tests and quarantines from contact tracing plus injuries.
“We anticipate having a close to full roster,” Pittman said during his weekly Monday Zoom press conference. “Our testing went well yesterday and between injuries that we had and the covid, we feel like we’re going to be pretty close to full speed.”
Pittman also was asked about two offensive linemen, sophomore tackle Noah Gatlin and redshirt freshman guard Beaux Limmer, who have missed the last couple of games with injuries.
“I think Beaux is doing well,” Pittman said. “We’ve still yet to find out on Noah. He’s getting some tests right now and we’ll see if he’ll be available or not. But we feel pretty good on Beaux.”
Gatlin has been the starting right tackle, replaced since his injury by fourth-year junior Dalton Wagner.
Senior Ty Clary continues starting at right guard.
While the 3-5 Razorbacks were idle, Missouri, 4-3, last Saturday played its earlier postponed by covid tests game in Columbia with the Vanderbilt Commodores.
Mizzou vanquished Vandy, 41-0, the final game for fired Vandy Coach Derek Mason with the Commodores 0-8.
It would seem Arkansas’ staff has members that started this season more familiar with Mizzou’s personnel than new Mizzou Coach Eli Drinkwitz and his new staff.
Arkansas defensive coordinator Barry Odom head coached Mizzou from 2016-2019. Arkansas offensive line coach Brad Davis and cornerbacks coach Sam Carter served on Odom’s Mizzou staff.
Also respectively as Georgia’s offensive line coach and Georgia’s special teams coordinator, Pittman and special teams coordinator Scott Fountain annually coached against Missouri within the SEC East.
Missouri is Arkansas’ lone every year SEC West vs. East rival with the other six teams normally rotating until this season’s entirely 10-games all SEC schedule restructured during the summer because of covid-19.
“I think they’re a benefit from those guys because they know the personnel,” Pittman said of Odom, Davis and Carter vs. Mizzou. “I’ve also been playing Missouri (from 2015-2019 at Georgia) now for a long time. So we think we’ve got a pretty good handle who they’ve had, at least in the past.
Missouri is our (Arkansas’) crossover game, and they’ve gotten the best of us, at least for the past four years. So we’re going to try our best, like we would each and every game to try to stop that.”
That will be a hard task, Pittman presumes.
“Certainly they’re playing top-notch football right now,” Pittman said. “Well coached and physical and they’re going to try to bully us on offense and on defense. They have an exceptional D-line and probably the greatest linebacker, or at least one of them, in the country in (Nick) Bolton. They’re peaking right now at the right time.”
Pittman was asked about senior middle linebacker Grant Morgan of Greenwood, leading the nation with 104 tackles, being named one of 16 finalists for the Butkus Award honoring the nation’s best linebacker, and sophomore receiver Treylon Burks of Warren (39 catches for 598 yards and six touchdowns) added to the Watch List of the Biletnikoff Award honoring the nation’s best receiver.
“Well, obviously both of them have had good seasons to get on those lists,” Pittman said. “The other thing about that is winning a little bit helps you get recognition to get on those lists, so every individual award, in my opinion comes with a strong background of team involved with it too. But they’ve both played well. They both have done a nice job. We’re proud and happy for them that they received that recognition.”
Morgan’s story seems especially remarkable. He arrived in 2016 as a walk-on and become a star even as by linebacker standards appearing physically unimposing at 5-11, 222.
How has he done it?
“Well, he’s slippery,” Pittman replied. “He slips blocks a lot. Plays extremely hard. He’s very prepared when he goes in to a game. He spends a lot of time in the film room and a lot of time with his coach getting prepared for the game. He tries to play the game before it happens. You know he tries to see tendencies and things of that nature before it happens. He’s just a very intelligent guy who loves to play.”