FAYETTEVILLE – With barely enough to play adding positive covid-19 tests and contact tracing to injuries going into last Saturday’s 27-24 loss to LSU in Fayetteville, Coach Sam Pittman revamps Razorbacks preparations with Saturday’s game at Missouri postponed because last Sunday’s covid-19 tests put Arkansas under the SEC game week protocol.
The revamping did not include the normal Monday and Tuesday practices, Pittman said during his Sam Pittman Live radio show Tuesday night at The Catfish Hole.
“I believe if you don’t have enough to play you don’t have enough to practice,” Pittman said. “Today we had meetings and lifting and a little bit of walk and talk and are doing the same thing tomorrow. The ones that are injured we can put them in a walk.”
Those that can get home for Thanksgiving will be allowed to spend time with their families, Pittman said.
TIDE OR TIGERS NEXT?
Arkansas, 3-5, has two games remaining on its 10-game schedule which originally after Saturday vs. Mizzou’s Tigers in Columbia, Mo. was to close with No. 1 Alabama’s Crimson Tide, Dec. 5 in Fayetteville.
However who the Razorbacks next play and when is unresolved with the Dec. 5, 12, 19 dates available to fill two games while Mizzou and Alabama already had games to make up.
Alabama’s game two weeks ago vs. LSU was postponed because of LSU’s covid-19 issues.
Missouri is making up a postponed game Saturday vs. Vanderbilt and still has a postponed game to play against Georgia.
“I don’t know if we play Alabama next weekend or Missouri next weekend,” Pittman said. “We don’t know. From all indications we will know more Friday and then be back in the office ready to go. They are definitely being rescheduled and unless covid hits one of those teams we will definitely play those games. We have three weeks to play two so we’re still in good shape.”
Under this season’s covid-19 circumstances that removed the SEC teams’ four nonconference games to a 10 game All-SEC schedule that for Arkansas included seven ranked in the AP Preseason Top 25 and then Mississippi State ranked 16th when Arkansas won in Starkville, Miss., Pittman believes his Razorbacks will receive a bowl bid.
“We’ve won three SEC games and normally they schedule opportunities to win four nonconference games,” Pittman said. “I believe our football team has earned the right to go to a bowl game and I believe we will have that opportunity.”
SPECIAL TEAMS SPECIAL/NOT SO SPECIAL
Kickoff man Vito Calvaruso and punter Reid Bauer more than held up their legs of Arkansas’ special teams effort against LSU, but Pittman despaired that punt returners Treylon Burks and Nathan Parodi couldn’t prevent LSU punter Zach Van Rosenberg’s punts from rolling along.
“Bauer did a really good punting the ball,” Pittman said during his Monday press conference. “He gets rid of it. Did a nice job. Had a good average (47.4 on seven punts) Not a lot of return yards. Vito, I believe he kicked every kick out of the end zone, so he’s certainly playing with more consistency.”
Then came the review of Van Rosenberg’s 48.9 average including five rolling along downed inside the 20, plus LSU blocking A.J. Reed’s attempt for the game-tying field goal with 1:24 left.
“We have to field punts,” Pittman said. “We have to put somebody back there that’s going to field the punt. We lost 39 yards in letting the punt land. Whether we return it a yard or not, if we just catch the ball that’s plus 39 yards. So we have to get our punt returner in the right position and we have to catch the football.”
And protect on field goals.
“On the blocked field goal, we stepped inside,” Pittman said. “We hinged. We don’t teach that and we did it for whatever reason and the guy (LSU’s Jay Ward) came off and he tipped the ball. So we are getting better in some aspects of special teams and we didn’t play well in some aspects.”