The Sam Pittman era at Arkansas began with a 37-10 loss to the Georgia Bulldogs Saturday in Fayetteville.
Defense was the story of the day for the Hogs as the offense struggled for most of the game. New Razorback defensive coordinator, Barry Odom, had his defense ready for the No. 4 team in the nation.
“I was really proud of our defense, very proud of defense,” Pittman said. “I really thought [Odom] had a great game plan and I thought our kids, especially on the defensive side of the ball, played well.”
On their second drive of the game, the Hogs scored on a 49-yard connection from quarterback Feleipe Franks to sophomore receiver Treylon Burks. The Razorback defense began the game strong as it held the Bulldogs scoreless in the first quarter.
Just thirty seconds into the second quarter Arkansas redshirt senior T.J. Hammonds fumbled a double-reverse play into the end zone, resulting in a safety for the Razorbacks. This play set the tempo for the offense the rest of the half as the Razorbacks failed to score again.
The Razorback defense continued to hold strong for the remainder of the second quarter, holding the ‘Dogs to 177 total yards. Georgia kicker Jake Podlesny drilled a 39-yard field goal as time expired in the half to narrow the Arkansas lead to 7-5.
Georgia converted on one of 12 third downs in the first half. The Bulldogs starting quarterback D’Wan Mathis was replaced by junior Stetson Bennett in the second quarter. Mathis was 6-14 for 37 yards and an interception after halftime.
The Hogs recorded 160 total yards through the first 30 minutes of play. Franks threw for 130 of those yards, 74 going to Burks. The Arkansas defense picked up two sacks from junior Bumper Pool and senior Dorian Gerald along with an interception from redshirt junior Montaric Brown. Georgia led the Razorbacks in time of possession 18:04 to 11:56.
“Offensively I thought we could’ve played more consistent,” Franks said. “We’re going to learn from it and continue to grow and build and that’s what it’s all about.”
On its opening possession of the second half, Georgia suffered a fumble from running back James Cook that Arkansas freshman Myles Slusher recovered. The Razorbacks turned this into an 11-play, 43-yard drive that was capped off by Duke transfer kicker A.J. Reed nailing a 25-yard field goal to give the Hogs a 10-5 lead.
The ensuing Bulldog possession foreshadowed the rest of the game as running back Zamir White broke off a 25-yard run up the middle to put Georgia in Razorback territory. Bennett completed a 19-yard touchdown pass to 2019 All-SEC Freshman First Teamer George Pickens with 6:00 remaining in the third quarter.
After the score, Bennett ran the ball in for a successful two-point conversion to give Georgia a 13-10 lead and all of the momentum.
After a quick three-and-out on the next Razorback possession, things began to crumble for the Hogs. Michigan-transfer George Caratan’s punt was blocked by the Bulldogs, giving Bennett and company great field position on the Arkansas 24 yard line.
Georgia took 1:11 to score its second touchdown of the game, a 7-yard pass to tight end John Fitzpatrick. The Bulldogs did not look back after this, scoring on a pick-six thrown by Franks on the following possession to take a 27-10 lead.
The fourth quarter lingered as Arkansas surrendered a six-yard touchdown to Bulldog running back Zamir White and a field goal to Podlesny with 1:23 remaining in the game that put Georgia up by 27 points. The Arkansas offense failed to score in the fourth quarter as the Hogs fell to Georgia 37-10.
A first half of dreams fell apart for the Razorbacks as they allowed 210 total yards to Georgia in the second half. The killer for the Hogs proved to be on offense as they recorded just 120 yards in the half and averaged only 2.8 yards per rush in the game.
The entrance of Bennett for Georgia was a difference-maker in the game. He ended the game with 211 yards and two touchdowns. White led the Bulldogs with 71 yards rushing and a touchdown. Georgia ended the game with a controlling 35:46 time of possession.
Arkansas’ Treylon Burks was the star on offense, catching seven balls for a career-high 107 yards and a touchdown. Franks recorded 200 yards passing for one touchdown and two interceptions. Redshirt junior Trelon Smith led the Hogs in rushing with 38 yards.
“I think this [game] shows that we have promise, we have hope,” senior Grant Morgan said. “It shows that we can play really good and it shows that we just played against a really good football team.”
Arkansas will travel to Starkville, Mississippi, next Saturday to take on the Mississippi State Bulldogs. The game will kickoff at 6:30 p.m. on the SEC Network Alternate channel.