HOGS awards keep coming but not for D-line
FAYETTEVILLE - Arkansas defensive linemen have received no national accolades but must be doing something right for the secondary and linebackers to star, it was suggested by Hog coach Sam Pittman.
“You know (DL coach) Derrick LeBlanc really has those guys playing well,” Pittman said.
Against pass-minded Mississippi State and Ole Miss, Arkansas defensive coordinator Barry Odom dropped eight Hogs in zone coverage and relied on just three rushing the passer.
“We talked about going into Mississippi State, their five against are three,” Pittman said. “Advantage Arkansas. And we didn’t say we had to get the guy (quarterback K.J. Costello) on the ground, we just had to move him. You can’t let him just stand there or he’ll pick us apart. And they did a very nice job. If you look at the majority of our picks (Arkansas’ 10 interceptions leads the nation) the quarterback was moved some way or another or pressured.”
Senior defensive tackle and defensive team co-captain Jonathan Marshall has been a bellwether.
“Jonathan Marshall is playing as good as any of us would have thought,” Pittman said.
TIME TO GET WELL
With senior starting defensive end Dorian Gerald out injured since the season-opening loss to Georgia, sophomores Zach Williams, and Mataio Soli, redshirt freshman Eric Gregory and junior college transfer Julius Coates all have done their part, Pittman said.
Restoring the health of the injured like Pool, Gerald, Montaric Brown, etc. and not adding to the injury list has been a Pittman priority in this week’s Tuesday through practices.
“We had to get healthy this week,” Pittman said before the Razorbacks practiced Thursday. “Three days of non contact basically. We’ve been in helmets, no pads, but we are preparing for Texas A&M. We’ve done that now for two practices and will be again today. But it’s non-physical practices. Besides the injuries that have been season-ending injuries - I think we’ll be pretty close to full tilt come Monday.”
LOTS OF AWARDS
Add yet another Arkansas national award off last Saturday’s 33-21 victory over Ole Miss.
Hudson Clark, the redshirt freshman vaulted from last year’s scout team to starting cornerback because of injuries to first-teamers Montaric Brown and Jerry Jacobs and starring with three interceptions against Ole Miss, Thursday added Jim Thorpe Award Player of the Week honors to being named SEC Freshman of the Week and named along with Razorbacks freshmen Jalen Catalon, a safety, and left offensive guard Brady Latham to the Football Writers Association’s Freshman All-American Watch List.
CLASSROOM AWARD WINNER, TOO
Asked at his Thursday press conference how Clark has handled his new-found fame, Pittman said very well.
“He’s a very quiet, very modest young man,” Pittman said. “I think he’s taken all this stuff in stride. I mean, he’s gotten enough awards this week. But, I see on my sheet of paper that he is one of the three Boss Hog Scholars of the week that we give out each week. So that adds to his resume for this week as well.”
‘BACKERS, SECONDARY PRIMARY AWARD WINNERS
This week senior middle linebacker Grant Morgan of Greenwood, 19 tackles, a pick-six interception returned for a touchdown and two pass breakups against Ole Miss, was named SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Week and received national honors as Player of the Week by committees for the Chuck Bednarik and Bronko Nagurski awards.
After Arkansas’ Oct. 3 21-14 victory at Mississippi State, Razorbacks linebacker Bumper Pool, trying to heal from injured ribs that prevented him from playing against Ole Miss, and safety Joe Foucha were named SEC Co-Defensive Players of the Week.
Against Mississippi State Pool made 20 tackles and broke up two passes while Foucha intercepted two passes and posted lost-yardage tackle among two stops.
WARNED STAY CAREFUL OF COVID
Pittman gave the Razorbacks off Friday through Sunday afternoon before reconvening Sunday night for academic meetings and tests for the covid-19 coronavirus.
Pittman likened the players staying careful to keep away from crowded possible covid-19 spreading situations during their time off to players warned about steroid abuse when the NCAA first addressed with penalties that previously ignored issued.
“Remember when steroids was in athletics?” Pittman said. “Basically the NCAA said if you get tested positive for anabolic steroids, you’re out. Well that kind of, that stopped it. It’s kind of the same way with this Covid virus. The bottom line is our kids know if they get Covid, that they’re basically out for two games.
So they understand that. We’re going to trust them.”