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'Moral Victories' Just Justification for Losing and Pittman Not Doing It

Arkansas coach "proud" of team after loss to Alabama but went into game for a win

Sam Pittman didn't take No. 21 Arkansas down to Tuscaloosa to just play a good game and fly back to Fayetteville.

"We didn't come over here to get beat," he said after falling to No. 2 Alabama, 42-35.

There will be talk among Razorback fans about "moral victories" and "almost" for awhile.

Moral victories are simply justification for losing. Almost is impossible to measure because it doesn't matter.

In the end it's either a W or an L.

But it could be a sign things are changing in a program that has now won as many games in one season (7-4 now) as they won the three years previously ... combined.

Sam Pittman-Alabama

Arkansas coach Sam Pittman during Saturday's loss to Alabama.

That was the message Pittman sent to the team.

"I just told them the days of getting kicked around and getting our teeth kicked in are over.," he said. "We proved that at least for this week."

After the game, he had some pride in his players.

"There's a fine line in there when you're proud and you lose, but I'm a guy that's proud of our football team, so that's what I told them," Pittman said. "It'd be hard not to be. We stayed in the game, had a chance to win, and we matched the physicality that Alabama is known for."

It's a team that appears to be getting a little better every week. Yes, they started 4-0, taking advantage of a Texas team that was seriously over-rated and Texas A&M was still sorting things out with a new quarterback.

Pittman used some non-conference cupcakes to get a little better every week and didn't dwell on getting run over by No. 1 Georgia, 37-0.

In the end Saturday, the Hogs couldn't respond to every haymaker the Crimson Tide threw at them and never found an answer for quarterback Bryce Young who made one big play after another.

Bryce Young-Alabama

Alabama quarterback Bryce Young looks downfield against Arkansas.

Young set a school record with 559 yards passing as Alabama put up 671 yards of total offense. Arkansas' defense makes some plays, but there's only so much scheming Barry Odom can do to overcome a talent gap when it comes to depth.

"We knew he was really good," Hogs linebacker Grant Morgan said about Young. "I hope he wins the Heisman because of the way he handles himself and how he talked after the game. He's a real good kid.

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"Throughout the game, the way he talked to his players and the way he led them and the way he kind of demanded the offense, you could tell he’s a one-of-a-kind player."

Hogs quarterback KJ Jefferson also had a big game, completing 22-of-30 passes for 326 yards and three touchdowns.

When you put up those kind of numbers and are still the second-best quarterback on the field, well, you aren't going to win most of the time and that's exactly what happened Saturday.

But Young had five touchdowns, completing 31-of-40 passes.

Reid Bauer-Alabama

Arkansas holder Reid Bauer throws a jump pass as Alabama defenders realize what's happening.

The Hogs even put up another big play on a little trick play from the special teams. Yes, I'm aware some of the talk shows in Fayetteville were begging for none of that to happen this week but it worked out well.

Hogs punter Reid Bauer, who holds for kicker Cam Little, faked a run like he had on a fake last week, raised up and threw to tight end Blake Kern, who had slipped out without any Crimson Tide defenders paying a lot of attention to him.

He made a one-handed catch of the pass that was a little off the mark, hauled it in and nobody could get close enough to touch him.

"We kind of knew as a sideline, we kind of saw Pittman’s lips ‘fake it’ or however he said it and we all just stayed calm because we were like, ‘If they see us getting excited …” Morgan said. "When they ran it, we were nervous. The defense was ready. The defense was sitting on the sideline with our helmets on.

"We were ready in case anything happened and we had to go out there sudden change."

It caught the Crimson Tide by surprise. Probably not as much as a lot of the Razorback fans who have seen trick plays fall flat on their face for a few years.

Maybe it's just another sign things are headed in the right direction for the Hogs.

Sitting at 7-4 now, they have a chance for the best regular-season record since 2011 with a win over Missouri on Friday afternoon.

That's called progress, but don't use the loss at Alabama as justification for any sort of loss.

It is, however, an idea of how much more needs to be done to compete for a championship.


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