FAYETTEVILLE – As a game-week football coach, Sam Pittman hastens to put Arkansas’ epic triumph over Texas last Saturday behind his Razorbacks and focus them on this Saturday’s 3 p.m. game against 1-1 Georgia Southern at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
However as a coach wanting his players and team appreciated in the present and building toward the future, second-year Arkansas coach Pittman appreciates the ongoing Arkansas accolades following the Razorbacks routing the then 15th-ranked Longhorns, 40-21 before a Reynolds Razorbacks Stadium full house announced at 74,531.
Among the accolades: The 2-0 Razorbacks Monday were named the National Team of the Week by both the Football Writers Association of America and the Cheez-It Bowl after Sunday cracking the national top 25 rankings for the first time since 2016.
Sunday’s Associated Press media poll tabs Arkansas No. 20 and the USA Today Coaches poll pegs Arkansas, No. 24 with Texas booted from both polls.
Arkansas senior linebacker Hayden Henry of Little Rock and Pulaski Academy, Sunday named the Walter Camp National Defensive Player of the Week for his game leading 15 tackles against Texas, on Monday was named SEC Defensive Player of the Week by the SEC Office in Birmingham, Ala.
Freshman place-kicker Cameron Little, 4 of 4 field goals and and 4 of 4 PAT’s against Texas, was named SEC Freshman of the Week Monday by the SEC Office.
Finally affecting a week hence, the Razorbacks learned their Sept. 25 SEC opener at the Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas against the 2-0 Texas A&M Aggies, ranked seventh by the AP and fifth by the Coaches poll, will be nationally televised by CBS in a 2:30 p.m. kickoff.
So with all that and the entire State of Arkansas still sky high on Beat Texas euphoria, how can the Hogs not have a letdown prepping for Saturday’s game against this 1-1 Sun Belt opponent sandwiched between Texas and Texas A&M?
““Well, you try to have the media not say what you just did would be the first thing,” Pittman replied, smiling. “Nah, you know I’m teasing. To be honest with you, I’m not one bit concerned about it, and I’m not going to talk about it a lot.”
Pittman expressed his faith in the Hogs coming off a euphoric high still concentrating on this Saturday’s game off last year’s Hogs.
Pittman last year inherited from the Chad Morris regime consecutive 0-8, 0-8 SEC teams.
In Pittman’s second SEC game the Hogs in Starkville, Miss. upset a Mississippi State team fresh off upsetting reigning national champion LSU.
The next game at Auburn they lost on an officiating call that even the SEC admitted was wrong and then beat Ole Miss in Fayetteville.
“Our kids could have gotten the big head after Mississippi State, but they didn’t,” Pittman said. “They played a good game against Auburn. That (call allowing Auburn to keep a fumble that should have been lost en route to kicking the game-winning field goal) happened. Came back and beat Ole Miss. Went and played A&M pretty good last year (a 42-31 loss to the nationally No. 4 Aggies). So, we have proven in the past whatever success, or however bad it may be we can flush it and go to the next week. I believe that is what we will do.”
He expects them to wear their national rankings he deems well earned.
“I think we’re a Top 25 team,” Pittman said. ‘I think we deserve to be there. I’m proud that we are, and I don’t think it will affect the way we play.”
It appeared sixth-year senior middle linebacker Grant Morgan, exiting during the second half, might be the only Razorback injury affected from the Texas game into Saturday’s game.
He’s a tough kid but I think he’s still a little bit day by day,” Pittman said.
Morgan did participate in Monday’s practice the Razorbacks conducted in shorts.
Safety Jalen Catalon and receiver Treylon Burks practiced in green no-contact jerseys Monday but have done that previously deferring to some early preseason injuries but then played on Saturdays
One of Arkansas’ super seniors granted his 2020 senior eligibility in 2021 because how covid disrupted 2020 college football, Greenwood’s Morgan as a returning captain influenced that only one of Arkansas’ five captains participates in the pregame coin toss.
“The rule is you can take four out to the coin toss,” Pittman said. “I said, ‘Hey, all you guys walk go out there and one back.’ Grant said, ‘We’re not leaving one of our guys behind. We’re going to have one go out and the four are going to stay together.’ Ol’ Grant Morgan, he’s a special ol’ kid, you know.”
That countless thousands among the 74,531 swarmed the Frank Broyles Field celebrating by SEC rules caused the University of Arkansas to be fined $100,000 the SEC announced Monday afternoon.
The fine, $50,000 since 2015 the first time a SEC school’s fans stormed the field, was second offense raised to $100,000 on Arkansas because fans stormed the field after the 2014 Razorbacks skunked LSU, 17-0 at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.