Pittman talks recruiting and linebackers

Razorback senior linebacker Bumper Pool (#10) from Lucas, TX rushes the quarterback against South Carolina at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville, AR.

By Otis Kirk

FAYETTEVILLE — No. 10 Arkansas is busy this week preparing for No. 23 Texas A&M in AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Sam Pittman likes playing the game in Arlington at a neutral site. A reference was made to Kirby Smart since Georgia plays Florida in Jacksonville, Fla., each season.

“I don’t want to speak for Kirby, because he certainly does a great job with that himself, but I like neutral games,” Pittman said. “The problem is last year we had, I believe, a five-game stretch where three of them were at home, we were the home team, but one of them was in Dallas and the other in Little Rock. You’re sitting there in recruiting and you have three of the next five games as home games, but yet you only have one that you can recruit at. I think we really have to look into that. I don’t know how Jimbo (Fisher) feels about it, but you have to really look into that, especially when we’re not allowed to give tickets to recruits when you’re not the home team (in Dallas).

“But, let’s say this: As far as the atmosphere, having two equal number of fan bases, it’s incredible and being in Dallas Cowboy stadium is incredible. Our kids really enjoy that and all those things, but there are disadvantages as well, mainly the biggest part of that is you’re on the road when you have a home game, which means you’re not home. We certainly felt that last year in what I just spoke about.”

Texas A&M is the designated home team this year meaning they can give tickets to recruits.

“I still think it’s the home team can give tickets,” Pittman said. “You just can’t talk to them during the game. But the home team can give the tickets. What my understanding was, that Florida or Georgia was trying to get tickets for their recruits, as well, even if they weren’t the home team. And so, the bottom line is you really can’t recruit. Even if you’re the home team, you can give the tickets, but you can’t talk to the recruits. So, yeah, the only way to fix it is if both teams had tickets. But until they change to where you can talk to kids on the road like that, then you’re certainly losing that. You’re gaining it for the fans. I think the fans enjoy that game. We certainly do, as well, but it basically boils down to recruiting.”

Flush It?

Arkansas struggled to defeat Missouri State 38-27 on Saturday night. Pittman was asked if he just flushed the film or use it as a teaching tool?

“No, we didn’t flush it,” Pittman said. “I can promise you that. We’ve got some areas that we have to fix, and to put it in a nutshell, we have to cover better, we have to tackle better and we have to hold onto the football. And I don’t care who you’re playing, they had over 200 yards of YAC yards after we should have got them on the ground. Now, you have to credit their players, as well. But we have to tackle better, we have to cover better and we have to hang onto the football. You have three more turnovers than your opponent, you have about an 11% chance of winning the game. That’s about what it felt like last Saturday, so we have to get improved in that. But that’s just in a nutshell, and that’s football, and that’s fundamentals. And no, we certainly didn’t flush it. We addressed it at the highest level that you can because we have to get it fixed.”

Linebacker Talk

Drew Sanders and Bumper Pool have teamed up to form one of the best linebacker combos in college football. Sanders transferred in from Alabama and Pool obviously is a senior with the Hogs.

“Well, they’re always together off the field, as well as on the field,” Pittman said. “But they’re always together. I think they’re really good friends, respect each other. Both have really good work ethics. Both great kids. Drew certainly has done a great job of putting pressure on quarterbacks, along with running down people, along with handling his responsibility in the box. He’s not a real talkative guy. He just goes out and does his business. But I can assure you that everybody on the team respects him to the highest of respect, and certainly the coaching staff, as well.”

True freshman Jordan Crook looked outstanding in preseason, but hasn’t played much since the season started. Any chance that changes this weekend?

“Well, he hasn’t gone in much in the first three games so I don’t know it would be a whole lot different this week than what it was the three previous games,” Pittman said. “But, I mean, our linebackers have to play well. We’ve got a big challenge in covering a back out of the backfield when he goes out there when we’re in man coverage because he’s so fast and so elusive. But we’re going to do what we do and hopefully we can put some pressure on (Max) Johnson. And also we’ve also got to stop the run because coach Fisher is going to try to run the football. That’s who he is and he’s got the people to do it. So our linebackers are key for us in stopping the run.”

Arkansas and Texas A&M will battle at 6 p.m. on ESPN.

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