The Razorbacks are hoping the results on the field change to match.
Arkansas is back at it this week as it prepares to head to Florida after a bye. The Hogs have lost six straight games and Pittman fired offensive coordinator Dan Enos just over a week ago.
So Arkansas spent a bulk of its bye week adjusting to its new offense, now led by wide receivers coach-turn-offensive coordinator Kenny Guiton. The Hogs have cut the playbook by about 30% in hopes of getting the offense on track.
If it does and the defense continues at the pace its playing, the skid could come to an end.
Thus the positivity.
Here’s what Pittman had to say at his weekly Monday press conference.
What has changed?
That’d be hard to say. I think there’s a little different feel in the building. I think everybody has taken to coach Guiton. I think everybody is excited for him. I think we’ve got some bumps and bruises healed up a little bit better than what we had before. It’d be hard say. I’ll know a little bit more how we adjust to the new offense and things of that nature – or the less offense, I guess would be the better way to say it. We’ll know more about that as the week progresses.
No media open practices?
We trust you. It doesn’t have anything to do with that. We’ve had plenty of distractions. I’m just trying to close it in and make it be about us. We don’t have a problem with y’all coming to practice at all. It’s just something with Kenny and his new role, I’m trying to take any type of added pressure he might have off of him.
Well, he’s back, so we’ll see. I anticipate him practicing today, but how much he can do, I don’t know. I’ll know more about that when I talk to y’all Wednesday. I’ll know more then because I don’t know where he is physically.
Take weekend off football?
We had a great day on Friday. It was really good to get out, go to high schools, watch games. I did. I started out watching A&M and South Carolina. Headed to watch Georgia-Florida. Watched that. Took a little nap and watched the end of the Colorado game. It was fun to be a spectator with no pressure and not having to make any decisions. Just sit there and have an ol’ cold beer. It was fun.
If you have a night game, you might be able to watch an 11 o’clock game or something like that. It’s amazing. You try to help these kids reach the goal of the NFL and you never see them play. College-wise, it was fun. I see why people are fans of college football. It was a lot of fun. I think, too, as the week went on last week, I was thinking about, because I had, after the game that I went to, I met Jamie down in Hot Springs and I was thinking about what transpired in a week’s time. Then you can take it back from seven weeks and what’s really transpired over the seven weeks, er, eight weeks. We’ve got a problem that we’ve got to get fixed, but from a week ago to where we’re sitting today, I feel good about where we’re at.
He was full-go. He’s still trying to work his way into playing time. But he was full-go. He was able to play last week. It’s just right now he’s not starting for us.
Keep defensive mojo going
I think they’ll continue to play hard. I would think it would be very, very hard for them to lose their enthusiasm and their luster and their will to play because of the coaches they have over there. … They’re believing. Hopefully that’s what will happen to our offense, as well, this week and we’ll go out there and have us a good football game. I think there’s been games this year we had opportunity to win or we were ahead or tied. Things didn’t always go our way defensively, either. It’s easy when it’s 7-3 because we’re going ‘we held them to seven points.’ But there’s been other games, too. … There’s no this, this and this. I think we had a problem and I think the team feels like I’m trying to correct it.
Anyone flash during bye week?
I think maybe two years ago, we had a young not playing, scrimmage. We got a knee injury at that time. I was going ‘man, I wish we wouldn’t have done that.’ Now, this week was more of a run-through on Tuesday and Wednesday then we practiced on Thursday. It had to be that way because of the coordinator. We weren’t able to quite get the younger guys in view as much as we normally would in a bye week.
Ever been on a staff with a midseason coordinator change?
I don’t think I’ve ever been through a midseason coordinator change. I’ve had a lot of jobs. I’ve been through some late-season head coaches getting fired. It’s terrible. it’s terrible for everybody. I don’t know if I’ve ever been through that. What I wanted to do is make sure brought the life back into the program, brought the enthusiasm back into the program. Accountable. Accountability. I’m not saying we didn’t have that before because it makes me sound like I’m blaming a guy. I’m not. I’ve already spoke about Dan and my respect for him. But something has to change. I feel like we’ve done that. I can’t remember ever having a coordinator change during the season.
Process of shrinking playbook done?
We probably cut it down, I don’t know. I’m guessing. Probably 30 percent of it cut out. We’re trying to do the things we do well and more specific to what we can do versus how to attack a defense. Hopefully they’ll combine with checks and RPOs. Probably about 30 percent. Probably cut another five last night because of some of the things we had in, I want to be able to do it where everybody is on the same page, blocking the right guys and playing as fast as we possibly can. So you have to cut your playbook down a little bit because of that. What we’re doing, I think we’re doing pretty good.
Pass protection from backs
We’ve got to get better. not solely just on…
obviously our worst game was Mississippi State. We also ahve to put them in less possibilities to protect as well. On third down you’ve got choices. What kind of protection do you want to use? We’ll go six, seven, five, man protection. But Dommo has been really the biggest back in protection. We’ve used him a little bit. It’s got to get better. The kids know that as well. Florida certainly has a defensive end that is really good. They have a couple of them. No. 1 is exceptional. Got a nice spin move. We can’t just let him wreck our game.
A lot of team speed. You really want to stay out of third and long. A lot of stuff. So we’re having to figure out exactly how we’re attacking that. We’ve got an idea of how we can win third down. They’re a lot like Georgia was. Odd front with four-man front. Lot of field pressure. Lot of boundary, free safety pressure. Third down, big-time exotic team. Offensively they want to get the ball to the edge. I like what they’re doing offensively. They’re hiding the football. It’s old-school, wing-T, who has the ball? It’s not wing-T, but you get the idea. They want you to figure out where the ball is a little late. A lot of dressing pre-snap and post-snap. They’re really wanting to attack the edges, no matter what that might be. … They’ve got at least two really good running backs that they love to run the stretch with. Their quarterback is really accurate. They don’t throw a lot of deep balls. But the deep balls they throw are very accurate. Very good player.
Relationship with Napier
I like Billy a lot. Came up through Louisiana. Did a wonderful job there at the university. Have a lot of respect for Billy. He’s got them playing really hard. They’ve got a good team. … I have a lot of respect for him. I think the whole coaching community has a lot of respect for Billy.
A lot of play-action. A lot of naked throws. A lot of bubbles. Not a lot of shots. Not a lot of long balls. They attempt those, but I would say the majority of their passes are within that 10-yard and under. On fourth down against South Carolina, they threw one out there plus-three and needed 11. … They’re not asking him to sit and read the full field all the time. To me, they run a lot of things he can do and he does well. Therefore, they’re not putting him in a lot of positions where he’s throwing it up for grabs.
Any personal reflection this week?
I think you do that daily. Maybe hourly. What’s the word, minutely? Any time you are in a situation that we’re in, you either give up you try to figure out how to try to get out of it. I think there’s a lot of reflection on what we’ve done right, what we’ve done wrong, how to correct it, those things. The key is are we fighting like hell to change it or are we not? I can promise you we are. We means everybody in the building and the players.
How many times to the Swamp?
We played them when I was at Western Michigan. Haven’t been many times to the Swamp. When I was Georgia we played them over in Jacksonville. I can’t remember. Northern Illinois we went there. But I can’t remember going there much. I had COVID the last time we went there, so I didn’t get to go. I’m sure I’ll remember something when I leave, but there hasn’t been many times, I don’t think.
Freshen up D with bye
There’s a lot of confidence there. I will say this, this is a good offense we’re getting ready to play. A good offensive line. Really good receivers. Quarterback, running backs are good. Really good offensive schematics. We’ve got our work cut out for us. We can’t let them get to the edge. I think we’ll be as healthy as we’ve been on both sides of the ball all year. I guess that’s what bye weeks are for. I think we’ve done well off of by weeks. I think we won the other two. I think we beat Mississippi State here and last year I think we went Auburn.
How is KJ Jefferson?
I think he’s excited about the change. I think he’s a guy that we probably needed to take some offense off of where he could play faster and be more confident with what he’s doing. But he’s healthy and becoming, I think even the last week, his leadership skills were better. I think any time a guy opens his mouth and talks, I think he’s got to back it up. To me, that’s what a leader does. If you’re not wanting to lead, you probably don’t talk. He was more vocal last week than what he kind of had been.
Has Rocket been targeting Florida for comeback?
Man, I don’t know. That’s a good thought. I really don’t know. I think he was just hurt and this was good timing or ended up being good timing being able to go back to Florida.
Going to recruit the state this week?
Probably not this week. Again, I think with the change, everything kind of changed a little bit. We’re trying to keep everything in-house, so we won’t be out recruiting this weekend. It’s an early game, as well. We’ve got to do everything we can do to put the best product on the field that we can. So I think with all what we’re doing, we’re just trying to make it about us, and kind of stay in the submarine this week.
I think you know where I like to recruit and I think Georgia probably was our Florida. Just because of the relationships we have the with the high-school coaches. We have several coaches with Georgia ties. I didn’t know if we spot Florida, where we really really recruit Georgia. I also thought the better programs are in the state, the harder it is. Florida State’s doing really good. Florida is doing really good now. Miami is doing good. We’re in the state of Georgia. Everybody goes in there, too. Georgia can only take so many guys. That’s why we went there and that’s our feeling on Florida.
Guiton's experience with wideouts
He knows them better than anybody (wide receivers). I think targets for whom he thinks are his best players is going to be big for us. He knows them better than anybody, so he should know what routes they run the best and where they can get open and we can get it to them faster. You watch tape and you look at a lot of different things on tape, but what you might or might not look at is how far the quarterback gets rid of the football. Sacks can have a lot to do with protection, a lot to do with running backs, it can have a bunch to do with wide receivers and it can have a bunch to do with the quarterback. We’ve got to speed up that process. We hope to protect better, but we also have to be able to move the pocket and add chips and do it in a game. So there’s a lot to be said about all that kind of stuff.