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What to Watch: Things Hogs Must Fix to Get Back on Track at Ole Miss

Arkansas saw a 4-0 start go down in flames against Georgia last week and there are some keys to watch this week against Rebels

Sam Pittman made it pretty clear Monday what he didn't want to happen after being on the wrong end of a 37-0 whitewashing at Georgia.

"I'll be damned if Georgia's gonna make us lose this Ole Miss game," he said.

The Rebels probably feel the same way after being throttled by Alabama in Tuscaloosa on Saturday.

But Pittman isn't changing his approach with the team, which probably is the best way to go. He's got an experienced group that simply got in front of a snowball rolling downhill.

Besides, that's in the rearview mirror. He's only looking ahead.

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"We've been underdogs in 14 of our 16 games," he said, going back to last season. "We've never been favored to win an SEC game. We're doing things right, we just gotta do 'em better."

Which is why he doesn't want to make a big deal out of the Georgia loss, but not lose sight of the games coming up.

"If I make a mountain out of a molehill, because we went and got kicked, we've got to correct the situation, we've got to do better," he said Monday. "We've gotta cut the penalties out. We've gotta do better, we've got to coach better."

Pittman doesn't think having a meltdown is the right move to make.

"If I go totally off and start having meetings with the players and all this stuff, I'm sending a message I'm panicking," he said. "And I'm not. We've got a good football team and we got our butt kicked by a really good football team. We don't like it and we're not accepting it."

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What to Look For Against Ole Miss

Playing Smarter: Or at least not dumb mistakes like jumping offsides or trying to do too much. One factor that led to the quick starts and stuff is simply trying to get off the ball quicker against very skilled people. Ole Miss has receivers that are big and physical just like the Hogs so they should know how to deal with that.

Special Teams: The old cliché that it's 1/3 of the game is true. The Hogs have had four punts blocked in two seasons and that's going to get a lot of folks fired if it's not fixed ... and quickly. In case you're wondering, that's not just one thing. Something is wrong in a lot of areas for whatever reason.

Offensive Line Push: Can Arkansas get back to pushing the other team backwards instead of getting dumped into KJ Jefferson's face? It's not just the rushing game, but Jefferson can't pass when under constant pressure.

Stopping Rebels' Run Game: If the Hogs can't stop Ole Miss' running backs on the ground, quarterback Matt Corral becomes much more dangerous. And don't think he won't take off running just because he hasn't done that often this year.

Deal With Environment: Usually, games in Oxford are not wild affairs. They are much more laid-back than many others, especially at Georgia when they are fighting for a playoff spot in October. But there can be exceptions and the Hogs have created that at Ole Miss on a couple of occasions.

That's a triple play of things to watch for. Arkansas' offense has to get straightened out but the guess is that usually improves when the defense improves.

What they haven't shown they deal with particularly well is pressure because in most games this year that hasn't been an issue.

Saturday will give us a lot of answers.

Kickoff is at 11 a.m. Saturday morning and will be televised on ESPN.


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