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What Arkansas Coach Sam Pittman Said After Facing Alabama

The Razorbacks have played another brutal schedule, but visiting Bryant-Denny Stadium may have been their toughest test yet under the second-year coach.

Arkansas coach Sam Pittman had four goals for his team down the stretch this season, and they all began with a "B."

"Bowl" and "Boot" were both recently checked off the list, and next up is “Battle Line,” meaning Missouri on Friday. 

But the Razorbacks missed out on the third one, “Bama,” 42-35 Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium. 

Here's most of what Pittman had to say afterward, including calling Bryce Young a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate, but he declined to compare Alabama and Georgia after facing both: 

“Well, we obviously played a really good team tonight in The University of Alabama," They're a very, very physical football team. Obviously, they have a Heisman Trophy candidate throwing the ball, and they did an outstanding job. Jameson Williams is a special, special player. 

"But I was very proud of the way that we kept coming back and the physicality of our program. We did not come here to lose by seven. We came here to win the game, and I think you can see that by the way that we played. We just ran into a team that was seven points better than us tonight, and they had their team ready to play. Congratulations to Alabama, I believe they won the West tonight.”

Questions

Could you comment about your aggression tonight, like the attitude you took with the fake field goal:

The field goal, the fake field goal, was directly off of last week’s [against LSU]. So last week, I ran up there and we ran it and turn and blocked. And then this week we faked the block and they both made really good plays there …

As well part of our third “B,” and we don't set goals that we don't think we can achieve, and we want to come in here, and felt like we had a great chance to win the game and obviously we did. But just didn't get enough or didn't get a stop or whatever it may be, we certainly didn't play a perfect game. We snapped the ball when we thought we heard a clap, and basically gave him three there. But for the most part you can't … it would be hard to look at Arkansas Razorbacks and not be proud of the effort and the resiliency that we showed tonight, and the physicality.

On wide receiver Treylon Burks playing with a hurt shoulder.

I think he's probably beat up, but he just kept coming back. He won a lot of one-on-one matchups tonight and kept coming back. KJ got the ball to him. He's a tough great player and a better person, but I tell you what, he had a half a game tonight

What do you say to your team in the locker room after this one?

It's hard, because there's a fine line in there about being proud of, and then you lose, but I'm a guy that's proud of our football team so that's what I told him. Be hard not to be. We stayed in the game and had a chance to win the ball game. We matched I felt like the physicality of what Alabama is known for, and I told them the days of getting kicked around and getting their teeth kicked in or are over. I think that we proved that, at least for this week.

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On quarterback KJ Jefferson:

First of all I felt like the line protected pretty well for him. He obviously got away from some pressure. But I mean, man he’s just getting better every week. I mean I wouldn't trade him. As a character player. But I thought he was outstanding. He had some good runs in there tonight. He just had tough guy. I'm just glad he's our quarterback. But I mean to go out there and do what he did tonight, you wouldn't have mentioned if it wasn’t outstanding and it certainly was. I think he came out of it pretty, you know, he's probably sore, but I think he came out it probably OK. We've got a short week so I certainly hope he did, but I'm so proud of him. I mean look at the first game and to now, I mean in consecutive weeks of how he's played. I'm glad he's our quarterback.

What was your impression of Bryce Young?

Says right here he passed for 559 yards. I'd say he’s pretty darn good. He made some really great plays when he broke the pocket and had a few nice throws to the side and angles. Looked a little like [Patrick] Mahomes sometimes out there. But they protected him well and he made a lot of plays and he's got a really good wideouts to get open. I thought he had a [good] head for the game. I mean they score 42 points and threw the ball whole bunch of times, about 40 He had a great game. He should be in Heisman Trophy talk. He's a really good player.

How were you trying to defend them in the struggles of picking your poison with what they could do offensively?

I mean, we were in 3D coverage and the guys were running by us. We played a lot of man. We tried a lot of different things out there. Sometimes it worked, a lot of times it didn't. It wasn't that we just sat there all night in the same thing we tried several different things and you think if you’re in three deep you wouldn't have a guy run by in the middle of field. But he did. We tried we talked about half time to keep changing it up and things of that nature, but for the most part it wasn’t as successful as we certainly wanted it to be.

Now that you've seen both Alabama and Georgia, how would you contrast those two?

[Shaking head] I don't. I don't. I think it's a really good question, I just don't I really don't wanna answer it. I mean they're both really good teams. Both physical. Alabama throws the ball more than Georgia does. Georgia is, you know, they got different people. Georgia believes in turn around and hammering you in play action off of it. Both really good football teams.

On your running game:

When you play Alabama, you're fortunate if you can take what they give you. In other words, it would be hard for me to sit here and say we had 470 or [4]68 yards offense and be disappointed in one side or the other. I don't believe that we ever said ‘Hey we can't run it.’ You know what I mean? I don't think we said well ‘We can't run the ball.’ I don't think that ever had anything to do with it. We're getting man-to-man coverage and we felt like we could beat him on the outside so … I'll be honest with you, I never felt like we couldn't run the ball tonight even though statistics might say that the average per carry wasn't very good.

I just I felt like when we want to run it that we could run it, and certainly we got some negative yardage plays on some of those counters. One of them we tried to trick play and didn't catch the pitch which was probably minus-10 or whatever that was. I felt like our offensive line played a really good ball game.

The Georgia game was over in a hurry, just not a good day at all. Then this one you guys are into the very end. What do you think that says about how the team has progressed?

Well, I mean, obviously it’s two different teams, but we certainly have learned a lot. We learned from the Georgia game and we practiced what we learned from the Georgia game. For the most part we were much better tonight at those negatives that we told our team about from Georgia. But they're two different teams, and things of that nature, but I think it says a lot that we can go out on the road and play Alabama, and make it a game. And that's what we did.