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Arkansas quarterback Feleipe Franks (13) scrambles out of the pocket during the second half of the team's NCAA college football game against Georgia in Fayetteville, Ark., Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020. (AP Photo/Michael Woods)

Arkansas Football Surprising So Far

The Arkansas Razorbacks have been by far the SEC’s most pleasant surprise so far this college football season.

Defying Expectations

Arkansas won one conference game in the previous three seasons combined.

They come into their bye week 2-2 and look solid on both sides of the ball.

When the 10-game all-SEC schedule was released on August 17, many pundits predicted a 1-9 or 0-10 season for the Razorbacks. Athletic Director Hunter Yuracheck called it “the most challenging schedule in the history of college football.”

Though the national media was awfully skeptical, Head Coach Sam Pittman was not.

So far, it looks like his players have bought in and then some.

Dominant Defense

Though the Razorback offense, led by former Gator Feleipe Franks, has been much improved so far, defense has been the story.

Former Missouri head coach Barry Odom took over a unit that finished 124th in points allowed last season, allowing 36.9 per game. So far in 2020, they’ve allowed 25.5 per game to start the year against four SEC opponents. They also lead the FBS in interceptions, with 10.

Last week, the Razorbacks stifled a high-octane Ole Miss offense, recording 6 interceptions and a victory. Ole Miss QB Matt Corral, who looked like the second coming of Brett Favre against Nick Saban’s defense the week prior, was a deer in the headlights against Arkansas.

Odom inherited a defense with talent, including senior linebacker Grant Morgan, who is second in the country in tackles. The scheme, however, has been the real difference-maker so far.

Pittman pointed to Odom’s ability to come up with different schemes week-to-week as the main reason for their success on defense.

Odom and the rest of the defensive staff have two weeks to prepare for Texas A&M and QB Kellen Mond, who torched the Florida defense in a 41-38 upset.

Nation on Notice

Because of the nature of their turnaround, Sam Pittman’s team is turning heads nationally.

Pittman was interviewed on Sportscenter by Scott Van Pelt, who praised the job Pittman’s done so far.

Pittman realizes that this sort of attention comes along with winning, but wants to make sure his players keep their edge.

Pittman also pointed out the positive impact that their success and publicity could have on recruiting. For his team to eventually compete for championships, recruiting momentum will be necessary.

The sky is the limit for Arkansas under Pittman, who told Van Pelt that Arkansas would be his “last job.”

 

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