Jimbo Fisher Has Great Respect For Arkansas, Sam Pittman, Who He Tried to Hire Once

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Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond (11) speaks to head coach Jimbo Fisher during an NCAA college football game against Tennessee in Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn., Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020. (Brianna Paciorka/Knoxville News Sentinel via AP, Pool)

FAYETTEVILLE — Jimbo Fisher has brought a lot of success to No. 7 Texas A&M since moving over from Florida State.

Fisher has the Aggies at 3-0 on the season with a matchup against No. 16 Arkansas coming up on Saturday. Fisher talked about Arkansas on Wednesday during the SEC Teleconference.

“[Our defense is] playing good on the run and playing better on the pass but they are going to have to this week getting ready for Arkansas because I think they are playing outstanding,” Fisher said. “I think Arkansas is playing as good as anybody.  You look across the board right now at the games they’ve won and how they’ve played they’ve been dominant.  They are extremely physical on both lines of scrimmage.  Sam (Pittman) is always going to do that.  Whoever his linemen are they are always well coached.  He does a great job. Sam is doing an outstanding job at Arkansas right now.  I think those guys believe and they are playing well.  They are doing well.”

Fisher looks at Arkansas’ roster and sees a lot of experience on the team.

 “They are a very experienced team,” Fisher said. “If you look at their roster, so many redshirt juniors and seniors. On defense especially but there’s a bunch on offense, too. I mean (De’Vion) Warren their receiver is a senior. (Treylon) Burks is a junior. (Myron) Cunningham is a redshirt senior, also. (Ricky) Stromberg’s a junior.  (Ty) Clary’s a senior.  (Dalton) Wagner’s a senior. Trelon Smith, the tailback.  Their tailbacks are outstanding in the game. The quarterback (KJ) Jefferson has been outstanding throwing the ball deep and particularly on the ground running. Their offensive line is very physical. Their receivers, Treylon Burks is outstanding along with all their guys making plays. Warren Thompson, Warren, (Tyson) Morris, all those guys. Their tight ends are big and physical.  (Blake) Kern and (Hudson) Henry do a great job there. 

“Defensively like I say Tre Williams does a great job rushing. Their interior guys are very physical against the run. They play the run well. Their ‘backers, like I’ve said before it seems like they’ve been there forever. And (Grant) Morgan, (Bumper) Pool, (Hayden) Henry, those guys are all redshirt seniors that came back for the extra year. (Jalen) Catalon is as good a safety as we play.  He’s outstanding the way he cracks to the ball and and can still cover, change direction and tackles extremely well. Their corners are good players and I think they are good in the kicking game. I think they are playing great.  So we have to play great.  We have our hands full and I think it will be a heck of a football game.”

Pool is actually just a true senior, not redshirt one, but Fisher is correct in that the Hogs have a lot of experienced players. Fisher knows Arkansas like most teams close to The Lonestar State has a lot of players from Texas on the roster.

“I mean, listen, Texas is a huge state,” Fisher said. “Guys are going to go everywhere and they’ve got some of the right ones. Their backs are outstanding. They’ve got 3-4 tailbacks who rotate. Smith is outstanding, (Rocket) Sanders is great. Like I’ve said before, I think Catalon is as good as we play. I think he is a really, really, really good player in what they’re doing. Bumper Pool, all those guys are all. They’re all really good players, and they’re productive players. You can say one thing that a guy is a good athlete, he has size, he has speed, but how productive is he on the football field? Every one of those guys is extremely productive.”

Fisher talked about reaching out to Pittman when he was an assistant at Georgia about a spot on his staff.

“Oh, yeah,” Fisher said. “Just looking around for guys. I’ve always had great respect for Sam. I think Sam has not only turned into a great head football coach, he was a great offensive line coach. Those are guys you’re always interested in trying to talk to guys who have a possibility of being on your staff. He’s outstanding. I think he’s a great guy, a great person. Love being around Sam. He’s a heck of a football coach, so I have a lot of respect for Sam.

“Yeah, we talked. Different guys. We called and reached out to multiple guys when you take over a staff, not knowing who you’re going to hire or what you’re going to have, (if) guys on staff are going to stay. You inquire interest on all those guys, yes.”

Fisher continued to compliment Pittman and the job he has done everywhere he has coached.

“Well, I mean I’ve known Sam more from afar for a long time,” Fisher said. ‘’’Man that team, who is their line coach? Sam Pittman. Who is their line coach? Sam Pittman.’ But once I did meet him a few years ago, just such a  down-to-earth good guy. I mean a normal guy, good guy, genuine guy. A I have a lot of respect for him as a coach, but as a person every time I’ve met with him he’s great to be around. I enjoy spending time with him, and I think he’s outstanding. It’s only been really the last five, six, seven years that I’ve ever been truly around him, but I’ve always had great respect for what he did as a coach. But once I got to be around him, he became more fun.”

Fisher joked that he didn’t want to talk about Arkansas’ running game because he was already stressing game planning otherwise.

” I’m over here trying to gameplan and you’re trying to give me another headache,” Fisher said laughing. “I’m trying to work on some offensive stuff. The versatility they bring, the physicality they bring and then the speed to be able to get the ball outside and diverse runs with the quarterback runs and the RPOs and then the way they run it, it’s a heck of a system. Their offensive line is very well-coached and they have excellent ball-carriers. The quarterback is not only athletic, but he’s big and strong and hard to get on the ground. When you combine those things, it’s a heck of a combination.

Since the Aggies have won the last nine games between the two schools that means no one on the current squad has ever lost to the Razorbacks. Does that concern Fisher?

“No, I don’t because all you’ve got to do is watch the film,” Fisher said. “And even though we have won those games, all those have been incredible football games. Our guys know, they’ve all been four quarter games all the way to the end of them, a couple of them up until the last play. So we’re going to have to – I think two years in a row, and last year was a heck of a game here. So I mean, our guys know this is a heck of a football team, and plus the way they are playing right now, I don’t think we will have to worry about that.”

When not worried about Arkansas’ offense then Fisher talks about what a job Barry Odom does with the defense.

“I was asked that question earlier in the week if I’m not mistaken, and it’s the same thing,” Fisher said. “I mean the versatility, very sound in what he does and how does things, how he attacks you with different blitz packages, run packages, coverages. I mean, every play he makes you think, makes you have to communicate and talk, make calls and do things. I think Barry does an outstanding job. I think he does a great job of making in-game adjustments as you watch him play people. He’s always changing, never does the same thing. He has a lot of versatility, and he’s a good dude, man. He’s a good guy and a really good football coach.”

Arkansas and Texas A&M kickoff at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday in AT&T Stadium and it will be televised on CBS.

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