Offensive line coach Sam Pittman didn't need anyone to quote the Texas A&M sack total as Arkansas heads to Arlington to play the Aggies. He knows the numbers and the details of how those sacks happened.
For the record, the Aggies have an SEC leading 17 sacks through four games, eight coming last week against SMU. The Aggies have also been credited with 21 quarterback hurries, six in their victory at South Carolina.
"They have outstanding pass rushers on the edge," Pittman said, rolling through the numbers of the A&M ends in a deep rotation. "They lead our league and do some exotic things, some odd things. Their defensive ends have gotten a lot of attention with what we will have to do against them.
"I will tell you that we are going to have to chip on them. We are not going to block them one-on-one. I'll just go ahead and tell you that.
"They give you some three-man looks and stem (move at the snap) a lot. You can't take a lot from the last three games because who they have played is not similar to us. But you can see a lot on the South Carolina tape with what they've done to improve their physicality from last year. They are much better. They are much improved from last year. They look much better."
Pittman is impressed with both rush ends, Daeshon Hall and Myles Garrett. While they are listed at the same position, the Aggies will put them on the field in tandem at times.
"Those two are together on third down," Pittman said, also noting that the other starter, Julien Obioha "is a good player, too.
"We know our matchups, and if we don't like them, we'll add a guy to help our tackles," Pittman said. "No one is going to make a living blocking those ends one-on-one."
Specifically, Pittman said Garrett "has a great inside club move, a nice up and under with a club. (Hall) has a great inside spin move. What (Garrett) does with that club is really good because he can get his hips around at the same time. That's what we are working against this week because they are good with their technique."
Not much changes from one week to the next in some regards. Pittman said the Hogs still think they will be able to run the ball.
"We expect A&M to play a lot of people in the gaps," he said. "I don't think many are going to do anything else against us. We expect movement and we expect to be able to run the football."
Center Frank Ragnow, who split time almost evenly with Mitch Smothers last week, said the Hogs want to improve on their physical presence from last week when the Hogs only ran for 212 yards against Northern Illinois.
"We were all disappointed that we were not more physical," Ragnow said. "We really didn't think we played our brand of football. We were disappointed we didn't assert ourselves more"
Quarterback Brandon Allen said that physical play was the focus of Tuesday's practice, but that's not anything new.
"That's what we do on Tuesday, try to get in a physical day in full pads," he said. "We had a good day."
Allen said it generally comes down to the Hogs trying to establish their will in the ground game.
"That's what we do," Allen said. "Today was a good day. It was physical and what we expect. We did a good job of cutting down (to the key plays that will be used) and getting everything down and moved at a fast pace. We worked against what A&M does up front and seeing the mix of things they do in the back end."
Does the A&M sack total concern Allen?
"My guys up front have done a great job of protecting me and keeping me clean," Allen said. "So I have great confidence in them. We have had only one sack. I don't worry about sacks. I'm confident that our running game will keep pressure off of me
"The key is going to be converting first downs and the biggest thing is for us to prove we can be physical and run the ball. It should be a lot of fun. A&M has had a high scoring offense. We want to try to match them. Our defense is working hard to see if they can slow them down."
Allen is not surprised that the Hogs have scored at a high rate, too.
"When we execute, we are very tough to stop," Allen said. "We expected that. The thing about last week, our defense and special teams got into the scoring, too. That's a great help."
The Hogs found some passing game last week, Wide receivers coach Michael Smith was not surprised.
“It was good," he said. "These guys signed here because they wanted to catch footballs and win football games. We’re going to do whatever it takes to help this team win. Our number was called last week and our kids played well. Our goal this week is to go out there and play well again. If we have to go out there and block for 100 plays, we’re going to do it.”
Junior college transfer Cody Hollister made two critical third-down catches.
“I thought he played well," Smith said of Hollister. "He’s been waiting for that moment. That’s kind of the nature of the beast in this game - a guy goes down and you’re number two on the depth chart. He went in there, played well, and did some really good things. I expected that out of Cody. I know the type of player he is and how bad he wants to be on the field.”
The Hogs moved the chains on third down, but running backs coach Joel Thomas said the key was to make the third downs easy with positive yards on first down.
“I think that when you look at it, it may be first downs where we’re getting it," Thomas said. "We’re getting comfortable second downs rather than second and longs. We’ve managed first downs a little better and then that puts us in more manageable third down situations. It comes with familiarity of the offense and we’re in year two of this scheme and philosophy. Everyone is a little more comfortable.”
PIttman is getting more and more comfortable with Ragnow. The freshman center was on the field when the Hogs rolled in the two-minute offense just before halftime.
"Generally, when you are in two-minute, you probably don't feel comfortable with a freshman center out there," Pittman said. "You want the veteran, normally. I almost pulled him, but I didn't and he did well. What he's done is remarkable. To see him running the two-minute was very good. I left him because I thought he was ready. He's playing well. He's smart and athletic."
Ragnow's only real problem came on two snap infractions.
"I turn the ball on the shotgun snaps, and I guess you can't do that," Ragnow said. "We got the rule now straight. They let me do it the first two games so I thought I was OK. I won't do that anymore and I can handle it the other way on shotguns. I did the rest of the game in shotgun without any problems."
Tuesday Grid Update, 9/23
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