FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas’ Sam Pittman expects to face an improved BYU team on Saturday night in Razorback Stadium.
Both Arkansas and BYU will bring a perfect 2-0 mark into the game. On Monday, Pittman said Saturday will be a very difficult game. Arkansas defeated them 52-35 last season in Provo.
“Well, a hard team,” Pittman said. “Anybody who’s undefeated, including us, they’re hard to beat. They haven’t learned how to lose yet in that season. That group of guys that’s playing together hasn’t been beat, so they don’t know how to lose. But I think the tape, to be perfectly honest with you… They’re 2-0. Their tape, they play extremely hard. I mean, they do. They did last year. I think they’re a better football team than they were last year. Big, physical team.
“They’ve got a guy at each level on defense that I think is really good. 90, their defensive end. (Max) Tooley, I love Tooley. I loved him last year. Just a hard-playing kid. And then (Jakob) Robinson. And they’ve got more than that, but those are kind of standout guys on defense. They’re totally different on defense than they were last year. They got a guy from Weber State in and they are multiple, multiple now. Against us, because of our not having success running the ball, I’m sure we’re going to see a tremendous amount of looks. They move pre-snap, some things we’ve got to get ready for. But they ran odd pressure. They’re a fire zone team, which we have not seen this year either, where it’s true three under, three deep.”
Pittman is very impressed with the pair of offensive tackles BYU will put on the field Saturday.
“They’re going to cause us some problems because they move so much,” Pittman said. “They blitz quite a little bit. Offensively, they’re really big, really good tackle — really good at tackle. Kingsley (Suamataia), I said this last year, but I tried to get him to go to Georgia. He ended up going to Oregon then transferring in. And they’ve got the (Caleb) Etienne kid from Oklahoma State at the other…huge guys. I think those are two premier-type tackles. I don’t know if (wide receiver KodyEpps) is going to be back or not. He’s been hurt two weeks. He’s a really good player.
“At wideout, Chase Roberts, he can catch a lot of balls. He reminds me a little bit of our 4, to be perfectly honest with you. Then they’ve got the transfer quarterback in from Pitt. Number five is a really good wideout, too. They’re a stretch team, a boss counter team. They’re running a lot more stretch this year than they have in the past. I think they’re still trying to run the ball a little bit as well. Two teams that remind me a little bit of each other. I think their defense is playing outstanding. Their offense is playing well. Their defense is really playing well, like ours. It’s a good matchup. They’re a big, physical football team.”
BYU opened the season with a 14-0 win over Sam Houston on Saturday, Sept. 2. They followed that up this past Saturday with a 41-16 victory over Southern Utah.
“I think Sam Houston’s really good,” Pittman said. “I think they’re really good on defense. I think they’re one of the top-20 as far as ratings go in their first two games that they’ve played. So I think they played a pretty good defense the first game. Obviously, they have some first time guys. The quarterback, all that stuff.
“I thought the second game, you know if you look at us on offense, we didn’t hardly have any explosive plays. Explosive plays are what you need for a lot of reasons. BYU got quite a few explosive plays through the air. They hit 83 for a long pass. So I think the run game was better against Southern utah. It was a lot better than the week before. The quarterback threw the ball much better game 2 than he did Game 1, and they made some nice plays off it. They’ve got some good receivers now.”
Quarterback Kedin Slovis has completed 42-of-65 passes for 493 yards, four touchdowns and an interception. Roberts has caught 11 passes for 126 yards and a touchdown.
Pittman was asked if he felt Arkansas and BYU would prepare any different for this game since it’s the first for both against a bigger-name opponent?
“What’s amazing is, you prepare for the first game and it’s like ‘when is it going to get here?’ at some point,” Pittman said. “As you prepare, about nine days out and you’re (saying) ‘When is it going to get here? When is it going to get here?’ You’re assuming that your guys are going to be hyped up because it’s the first game of the year and all of that kind of stuff. Your second game of the year, I felt like there was … we prepared … You can prepare them all you want, as urgent as you want. They have to accept that there is a reason for urgency. I mean, they do. And sometimes it’s simply because of who you’re playing.
“But BYU, I know this, last year BYU was an urgent game. It was a must-win for us and all those type things. It is now. Again, like I said it’s hard to beat a team that hasn’t lost. Both of us haven’t, so someone’s going to have to. I think our kids understand the urgency of this game.”
Arkansas and BYU will kickoff at 6:30 p.m. in Razorback Stadium and the game televised on ESPN2.