HOGS: Expect low blows vs. Texas

HOGS: Expect low blows vs. Texas

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FAYETTEVILLE - Arkansas continued Wednesday with raised expectations but lower targets prepping for Saturday’s 6 p.m. ESPN televised game vs. rival Texas at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
From bygone Southwest Conference days, Arkansas fervor always rose sky high vs. Texas..
The SEC Nation crew and Marty & McGee count on the hoopla telecasting  8 -11 a.m. Saturday in front of Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
The Hogs (1-0) recovered from 17-7 down to rout Rice 38-17 last Saturday. Meanwhile Texas (1-0) walloped then No. 23 Louisiana-Lafayette in Austin, zooming the Longhorns from No. 21 to No. 15 in this week’s AP poll.
“We’re really excited to play the University of Texas,” Arkansas Coach Sam Pittman said Wednesday. “They have a wonderful team. A lot of skill on offense. A very good defense that runs hard to the ball. We certainly have our work cut out for us.”

LOWERED TARGETS
After automatic game ejections on inadvertent helmet to helmet hits dogged Arkansas safety Jalen Catalon and linebacker Hayden Henry last season, linebackers Grant Morgan and Bumper Pool were targeted last Saturday for targeting penalties.
Morgan fulfilled his ejection time in last week’s second half but Pool’s second-half penalty vs. Rice extends through missing Saturday’s first half against Texas.
“We’re trying to lower our target,” Pittman said Wednesday.  “Normally you’re hitting a guy in the chest and trying to roll up from there, and now it’s got to be lower than that. We’ve worked on it this week in practice.”

GOOD RULE BUT QUESTIONABLE RESULTS
The rule’s intention is for safety and enforcing against vicious, cheap shots to the head. But its automatic ejection penalty has come under increasing criticism given the inevitable unintentional collisions of a full speed tackler vs.a full speed carrier instinctively lowering his head striving for every yard he can.
“I know what the rule was intended for and I’m all for the rule,” Pittman said. “There’s no reason to try and damage anybody. But I feel terrible about the (unintended consequences). The runner, if he lowers his head at the point when I’m running in there to tackle, some of those things are going to glance in there and hit.”
Pittman’s opinion seems shared coast to coast.  Particularly after Monday night’s lone nationally televised Ole Miss vs. Louisville game.
“I think they might have had four ejections in the first half,” Pittman said. “It sure seems like the crime and the punishment don’t match a lot of times. I think it’s certainly something that the rules committee is going to look at and probably needs to.  And we need to do a better job of coaching how to stay away from it as well.”

SPECIAL CORRECTIONS
Pittman and special teams coach Scott Fountain have a correction to make regarding the blocked punt suffered against Rice.
“They weren't trying to block the punt, or anything,” Pittman said. “We just let a guy go. So, that's something that certainly is an easy fix and should have been fixed before and was fixed every time we went in practice. We have to win special teams, but we really haven't done it.”
Punter Sam Loy, out injured last week, is an either-or with punter Reid Bauer this week, Pittman says.
The Hogs did get a special Rice game performance  from kickoff man Vito Calvaruso booming non-returnable kicks through the end zone. Such kickoffs could be pivotal this Saturday given Texas’ D’Shawn Jamison last year returned a kick for a 100-yard touchdown.
“Really, really important for him to kick the ball like he has,” Pittman said.  “I think he's averaging about seven yards (end zone) deep. They have a very strong return game, both kickoff and punt returns, big wall return team. We have to kick it in the right spot, punt it in the right spot and also get guys in the wall."

TRELON COUNTS TOO
Much is and should be made about Texas running back Bijan Robinson and his 176 all purpose yards (103 rushing and 73 receiving) and two TDs against Louisiana-Lafayette.
But Arkansas running back Trelon Smith opened right well, too. Smith netted 102 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries against Rice.
“I thought he ran really hard,” Pittman said. “That’s kind of who he is to be honest with you. He’s that spark plug that we need on offense. I thought our (offensive)  line did a good job against them. I felt we wore them down with our tempo and our speed starting  the third quarter on.”

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