The Arkansas Razorbacks. Georgia will play them in football in a matter of hours. You know three things that are worrisome about them. You know three keys to beating them. You’ve even completed a detailed film study of them.
But it’s probably still worthwhile to call in a professional. Jacob Davis is a recognized expert in pre-Mayan architecture*, the former kazoo player in Pure Praire League**, and the reigning champion of the Wetumpka, Alabama Flan Cookoff***. He’s also one of the able writers at Arkansas Fight, SB Nation’s excellent Arkansas site. Jacob joined us to talk Sam Pittman, Jefferson to Burks, and tons of other pig pickin’ goodness.
MD: Arkansas has played physical football all season, as would be expected by anyone who’s ever heard Sam Pittman talk about the game. Other than the Hawgs’ hard-nosed style what has been the biggest change for the team under the Pitt Boss?
JD: The accountability within the program. It showed last week when team captain and quarterback KJ Jefferson talked to his LG Brady Latham about giving up a sack. Latham didn’t give up another sack or pressure the rest of the game.
On the coaching side of things, Pittman has created a culture of trust in the program, too. This is the closest I have ever seen a Razorbacks sports team.
He has also implemented confidence in all aspects of the game. They’ve been successful pounding the ball, the passing game has opened up, the defense flies to the football and it’s a product of Pittman having absolute trust in his team.
MD: That physical style was certainly on display last Saturday against the Aggies, but with a corresponding physical cost. What is Arkansas’s injury situation heading to Athens? Are Burks, Jefferson, and the rest of the team full speed?
JD: As far as injuries go Arkansas should be up to full speed for Saturday. Treylon Burks had a “heel injury” during camp but I think he had his ankle rolled up in the fourth quarter against the Aggies. After the game we saw him jumping for joy as he rushed over with his team to the trophy so he should be fine.
KJ dinged up his knee but he’s tough. He will be back in charge on Saturday after he had a few days to rest up. He still came back in the A&M game to lead the team to a few first downs running to seal the game.
MD: I’ve always had a great deal of respect for Barry Odom as a defensive coach. This year he’s done some unique scheme and personnel things with the Razorbacks that have paid serious defensive dividends. What do you think he will dial up this weekend to slow down a Bulldog attack that leads the Power 5 in net yards per play?
JD: He won’t have to rush three, drop eight in this one. He has a physical front seven that will sell out to stop the run and dare JT Daniels to beat the Razorback defense through the air.
MD: On the flip side, Georgia leads the nation in scoring defense 5.8 ppg) by a wide margin. How do you expect Kendal Briles to manufacture points against the Red and Black?
JD: Briles won’t do much to change his game. He and Pittman have a belief in their offensive system that they can also be physical enough up front to run the ball. Also, the passing game has opened up a lot over the past three weeks. Can the Hogs find separation from the Bulldogs is the big question!
MD: Fill in the blank: Arkansas pulls the upset in this one if ______.
JD: Arkansas pulls off the upset IF and only IF they can keep this game within eight points. The Georgia defense is for real and I’m afraid if Arkansas somehow finds themselves behind by two scores that they won’t be able to find a way to get back in the game.
MD: Because we must: what’s your score prediction?
JD: It’s going to get defensive so I’ll be going low scoring. I’ll sound like a homer on this one but I’ve seen this story before where it’s Arkansas’ destiny to find a way to win. I’m picking Arkansas 9-7.
Thanks to Jacob for joining us and sharing his Hawgly knowledge. Let’s hope both teams have a good time, right? Until later…
* Unlikely, but who knows?
** Flagrantly false.
*** Oops, sorry, that’s actually Lane Kiffin.