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Sam Pittman Knows What Hogs Need to Fix, but So Do Aggies

Razorbacks' secondary woes not something opposing coaches miss on film
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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas' biggest problem has been pretty clear through the first three games.

Razorbacks coach Sam Pittman knows it. You can bet Texas A&M's coaches have also seen the problems in the secondary that have left opposing receivers so open quarterbacks couldn't find them.

The Hogs lead the nation in sacks and are last in passing yards allowed. The simple deduction from that is they are compensating for not being able to cover anybody by getting to the quarterback.

"We have to get better at both of them really," Pittman said in his press conference Monday. "There’s a little bit more urgency covering people. We can live with guys getting good throws. We can’t live with guys wide open."

Sam Pittman-Raheim Sanders-Missouri State

He doesn't want people running wide open behind their defensive backs. Defensive coordinator Barry Odom coaches the safeties and it's not something he particularly likes seeing on film, either.

"If somebody’s going to beat us they need to beat us with us attempting to cover their guy," Pittman said. "We’ve had obviously too many mistakes there and backs coming out of the backfield, things of that nature, where we’re in man coverage and we’ve got to peel a linebacker out there and things of that nature."

They can't go with a zone defense like they played nearly all the time last year. When it worked, it was great ... when it didn't, it was a problem. That's a summary of what Sam said.

"We’ve got to fix that problem," Pittman said. "Everybody in the building’s aware of it and how we do that is going to be a combination of who’s on the field and the opponent whether we feel like we can cover them man to man or not.

"If we can’t cover them in zone coverage then we definitely have to put pressure on the quarterback, because that’s something that we’re good at."

The good news against Texas A&M this week is the left side of their offensive line has had problems keeping tackling dummies off quarterbacks Haynes King and Max Johnson.

The Aggies' offense has been spinning the tires most of the season.

But they've gotten some people back that were suspended the day before the Miami game last week including a couple of wide receivers that have the speed to flat run past the Hogs' struggling secondary.

Now if the Hogs can get injured defensive back Myles Slusher back on the field, they won't be at full strength, but better.

"With him, it allows us to have another opportunity to make sure we have our five best players on the field," Pittman said. "So I think it’s really big."

The revolving door in the secondary will probably continue for a bit. The only thing we know for sure is it can't get much worse.

The Hogs are dead last defending the pass in the SEC (No. 131 in FBS), giving up 353 yards through the air. In all three games this year the offense has simply had to find a way to overcome that.

Sooner or later it's going to create a hole too big for KJ Jefferson to crawl out of in time.

Whether it's Saturday in AT&T Stadium is why it could be another interesting game against A&M.

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