Everything Sam Pittman said after Arkansas’ loss to LSU

At some point during a struggle, whatever the sport, finding silver linings becomes a moot point.

Things aren’t quite to that stage for the Arkansas football team, but following Saturday’s 13-10 loss to No. 7 LSU, the Razorbacks are 5-5, in danger of not becoming bowl eligible with two games left to play in the regular season.

Coach Sam Pittman paused several times during questions after the game. He is always thoughtful in his responses, but it was clear the coach was exasperated. Arkansas played its best defensive game of the season, but the offense, and especially the offensive line, simply didn’t give the Razorbacks much of a chance.

The bright spots were there and they can be built on, but if it doesn’t happen in the next two weeks, it won’t matter much.

Here’s everything Pittman had to say after the game.

Sam Pittman's opening statement

FAYETTEVILLE, ARKANSAS – NOVEMBER 12: Malik Hornsby #4 of the Arkansas Razorbacks runs the ball in the first half of a game against the LSU Tigers at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium on November 12, 2022 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

I want to give LSU credit. They made enough plays to win. They had the one drive for a touchdown and made plays when needed. I thought our defense played lights out. By far the best game we’ve played all year. Covered well. Pressured the quarterback well. And for the second week in a row, couldn’t get anything going offensively. IN all honesty, we couldn’t block, we didn’t break tackles. We couldn’t protect him. We didn’t break any tackles until late in the game. I was really proud of how hard they played and really proud of the defensive gameplan and how the defense played.”

Arkansas knew KJ Jefferson wouldn't go

FAYETTEVILLE, ARKANSAS – NOVEMBER 05: Offensive Coordinator Kendal Briles talks with K.J. Jefferson #1 of the Arkansas Razorbacks before a game against the Liberty Flames at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium on November 05, 2022 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

“He felt better early in the week. Threw a few balls on Monday. Tuesday none. Wednesday felt better. I just asked him to have a plan because he was in no-man’s land. He was out in the desert, nowhere to go. Hurt. He was sore. Bottom line is on Thursday morning, talked to him, Thursday afternoon and that was it. We decided the best thing for him would be to rest. Hopefully he’ll be ready by Monday and he’ll be ready for Ole Miss. It was either that and do the same thing or each week have the same result, a guy who can’t practice. We’re trying to get him healed up. Told the team yesterday morning this was Hornsby’s game.”

Cade Fortin in for Malik Hornsby

Nov 12, 2022; Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks quarterback Malik Hornsby rushes in the first quarter against the LSU Tigers at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

“Obviously with the quarterback there’s a lot of things go into that. Rushing the football. Trying to take a little pressure off of him. Getting the ball out of his hand faster. Things of that nature. Making a guy miss to have a short play turn into… Really wasn’t a whole lot of help out there. I don’t think I decided to make the change to Fortin until I did. I kept thinking we might spit a big play, but it wasn’t happening, so decided to go there. Again, we still didn’t protect him well, either. We’ve got to play better.”

Arkansas missed taking advantage of LSU turnovers

FAYETTEVILLE, ARKANSAS – NOVEMBER 12: Jay Bramblett #19 of the LSU Tigers attempts a fake punt in the first half and is tackled by Jacorrel Turner #6 of the Arkansas Razorbacks at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium on November 12, 2022 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

“I thought points were going to be hard to come by. We didn’t have KJ. We got down there, got the turnover on the 10. Got about eight yards. I thought we were going to score on the first run. Then had two more plays of minus-yardage and I thought, we’ve got them down here, let’s score a touchdown. I thought we were going to have a struggle on offense. We already had them down there, we’d go up 10-0. We didn’t make it. … I know you’re giving up three points at that point ,but the risk to reward was better going down there.”

No Dalton Wagner meant no stopping Harold Perkins Jr.

Nov 12, 2022; Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks quarterback Cade Fortin (10) is hit while attempting a pass in the fourth quarter against the LSU Tigers at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. LSU won 13-10. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

“(Perkins) is great. He’s really good. We knew it coming in. Losing Dalton, him not being in there, obviously he’s our No. 1 tackle. But I was glad that Ty’Kieast got that opportunity and we’ll have to wait and see how he played on film. Perkins is great. He’s a great player. He’s who I thought he was.”

Sam Pittman on fourth down decisions

Nov 12, 2022; Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA; LSU Tigers head coach Brian Kelly talks to Arkansas Razorbacks head coach Sam Pittman prior to the game at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

I thought we had a play that was going to work. We had worked on it really down in a short yardage play. I thought it would work. The other thing is I thought we needed a little spark. I felt like we could make it. Nobody goes for it if you don’t. That one wasn’t as hard to me as it was at the end of the game on 4th-and-11 and you’ve got four minutes left and what are you going to do. On fourth down, you have to make a decision every single time. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. Today, the two fourth downs didn’t work. I really don’t know what to say about it other than I thought it was. We had plays we wanted. I thought it would work. I don’t know if the second would or not. We fell down on the rollout and it didn’t.”

Rocket Sanders and the run game can't get going

FAYETTEVILLE, ARKANSAS – NOVEMBER 12: Raheim Sanders #5 of the Arkansas Razorbacks is tackled in the first half by Joe Foucha #13 of the LSU Tigers at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium on November 12, 2022 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

Well, we’re not blocking them. We’re not breaking any tackles. I don’t think we broke a tackle into the fourth quarter. It’s hard to have a good rushing. Look at their back. He carried us eight, 10, 12 yards at times. Made guys miss in the hole. We have to block better and we have to make guys miss and we’re not doing that at any position. We’re certainly running gap schemes. Inside zone schemes. Running sweeps. Outside zone. Not seeming to have much success on any of it right now. And part of it is they’ve got to respect that the quarterback is going to pull the ball and throw it and if they don’t, you’ve got problems.”

LSU's offense had been good until Saturday

Nov 12, 2022; Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA; LSU Tigers quarterback Jayden Daniel (5) looks to pass in the first quarter against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

I think we had a really good gameplan, No. 1. The kids played extremely hard and tackled really well. Our whole week was we’re blitzing to get him on the ground … We had some nice designed blitzes. Played extremely hard. Obviously I told the kids it was the best our defense played all year and not really even close. I didn’t elaborate on the frustration of not winning because they played well. We’ve played really well on offense at times since I’ve been here and not won, too. “

Malik Hornsby was better against Mississippi State

Nov 12, 2022; Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks quarterback Malik Hornsby rushes in the first quarter against the LSU Tigers at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

He didn’t start at Mississippi State. Maybe there was no pressure. I don’t know. He’s gotten the No. 1 reps for the past two weeks most all of them. KJ took some running plays and things of that nature more last week than this week. I really don’t know what the difference was. Mississippi State he had a long run and a long pass. I felt bad for him because he didn’t have the success that I thought he would or anybody in the locker room thought he would. He’ll bounce back.”

Fortin was good, but quarterback play struggled overall

Nov 12, 2022; Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks quarterback Cade Fortin (10) rushes in the third quarter against the LSU Tigers at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. LSU won 13-10. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

You’ve got to have help around the quarterback. I don’t care who the quarterback is. If you don’t have help around him, none of them are going to play good. Two weeks in arow we can’t run the ball. We can’t throw and catch. We better figure out how to do that. Obviously we felt like we had a gameplan that would work and we got stuffed.”

Arkansas' defense gave the Hogs a chance

FAYETTEVILLE, ARKANSAS – NOVEMBER 12: Jayden Daniels #5 of the LSU Tigers is sacked in the first half by Drew Sanders #42 of the Arkansas Razorbacks at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium on November 12, 2022 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

I think the defense played so well that gave us a chance. They kept us in it. I think we were down 10 and I thought when Landers got the long one that we were going to rally around that and it seemed like it was the same story. Make a first down then lose yardage on the first down of that series. Just didn’t seem to find a way to be consistent.”

Hogs struggle against defensive stars

Nov 12, 2022; Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA; LSU Tigers quarterback Jayden Daniels (5) rushes in the first quarter as Arkansas Razorbacks linebacker Drew Sanders (42) defends at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

I think you’ve got to block them. (Shrug). I mean, I don’t know how to answer that. If they blitz, you’ve got to throw into the zone. He’s coming, just throw where he’s not. We couldn’t do that. We’ve got to block the guy better. I’m not trying to be…you’ve got to block him better.”

Pittman thinks Arkansas will bounce back against Ole Miss

Nov 12, 2022; Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks mascots pose with LSU Tigers cheerleaders prior to the game at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

We’re going to bounce back and get after Ole Miss next week. Hopefully KJ will be healthy. We’ve got to find some good. You talk about motivation. That would motivate me. Your best player on your team can come back and play? THat would motivate all of us. We got beat by the No. 10 team in the country. We want to win and I feel terrible, but I felt worse last week. We’ve got some things. We can win with a defense that plays like that. There were some things last week that wasn’t good anywhere. At least we’re rallying around and playing better. The result was the same, which was terrible.”

Injuries have devastated Arkansas

FAYETTEVILLE, ARKANSAS – SEPTEMBER 18: KJ Jefferson #1 of the Arkansas Razorbacks warms up before a game against the Georgia Southern Eagles at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium on September 18, 2021 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

You miss your better players and you miss your better leaders. But I thought the defense played their butt off. We just have to find a way to be better offensively. But, yeah, when you lose your better players. Well, everybody does this time of year.”

Arkansas was close, but not close enough

Nov 12, 2022; Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA; LSU Tigers safety Jay Ward and defensive end Lane Blue (42) carry The Boot trophy after the game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. LSU won 13-10. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

That’s what I told them when we were going out there. If somebody would have told us, this is the scenario, we’d take it. Let’s go win the game. I think we dropped a pass maybe. We got a first down. Maybe dropped a pass. Got the sack, the fumble. You’re right, Tom. We were just trying to stay on course, stay it down the track. We just couldn’t make enough plays. They obviously had a good gameplan for us, good players, but we just couldn’t make enough plays offensively.”

Story originally appeared on Razorbacks Wire