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Hogs have jukebox memories

by Bob Holt, Tom Murphy | November 2, 2021 at 2:09 a.m.

FAYETTEVILLE -- A highlight memory for University of Arkansas Coach Sam Pittman's first season at the helm is in play this week.

And it involved a jukebox.

The Razorbacks snapped a 20-game SEC losing streak Oct. 3, 2020, in a 21-14 victory at then-No. 16 Mississippi State in Week 2 of the covid-19 impacted season.

Mississippi State had just come off a 44-34 season-opening upset of defending College Football Playoff champion LSU with an SEC-record 623 passing yards when the Razorbacks dealt the Bulldogs a loss in their home opener.

After a short set of postgame remarks to the players, a jubilant Pittman shouted, "Turn that damn jukebox on!" The saying turned into a catch phrase and made its way onto T-shirts that highlighted the coach's home-spun approach.

"My memory was seeing the kids' faces and kind of the relief in the locker room for them," Pittman said Monday. "Honestly, I didn't know how long the streak was or how many we had lost. I knew it was a couple of years, but I didn't know how far it went back after that. I think it was just seeing the kids, how excited they were about winning."

Pittman said the jukebox phrase took off beyond his imagining.

"I mean, it's Arkansas," he said. "I had no idea that ... I didn't plan it. You know how I say things and sometimes it doesn't make sense. I understand that.

"But that one there, I just said, 'Turn that damn juke box on,' and I never thought about it. I was excited. I didn't know it was going to become a T-shirt. But it has been."

Pittman's agent, Judy Henry of Little Rock, located and arranged through the Wright Lindsey Jennings law firm to purchase Pittman a premium Rock-Ola jukebox for his birthday to be placed in his office at the Smith Football Center to commemorate the saying.

Johnson up?

Sophomore Dominique Johnson took reps with the first-team offense at tailback on Monday during the "fastball" starts and also at the beginning of a team period against the scout unit. Trelon Smith, who has started seven of the first eight games, is listed as the starting tailback on this week's depth chart.

Johnson, who started against Auburn on Oct. 16, is listed third team behind Smith and freshman Raheim Sanders.

Coach Sam Pittman said prior to the game against Arkansas-Pine Bluff that he wanted to see Johnson with more carries. Johnson had six carries for a team-high 91 yards in the 45-3 win over UAPB.

"He needs more carries," Pittman reiterated on Monday. "If that's starting him to get more carries, then that's what we're going to do. He's got to get more carries."

Johnson leads all SEC running backs by averaging 7.92 yards per carry, with Auburn's Jarquez Hunter (7.68) and Texas A&M's Devon Achane (7.07) the only other backs at better than 7 yards per carry.

Personnel news

Defensive linemen Markell Utsey and John Ridgeway were back at practice on Monday and working with the top units, while offensive lineman Dalton Wagner was back and splitting time on the top group at right tackle with Ty Clary. Utsey, who has missed the last two games, was working with the second group. Ridgeway, whose playing time was limited against Arkansas-Pine Bluff two weeks ago, was the top nose guard. During the team's "fastball" starts, Ridgeway was flanked by Isaiah Nichols and Tre Williams. Utsey ran with the second unit.

Wagner, who has missed the last three games following surgery for a dislocated finger, worked with the top unit during drill work. Clary, a five-game starter this year, including three at right tackle, ran with the top group during fastball starts.

Sophomore Malik Chavis and freshman Jayden Johnson were with the top secondary during the early portion of practice, while Simeon Blair and Greg Brooks Jr. ran with the twos.


The top two units on offense ran three plays apiece during the "fastball" start, with a catch and run from Tyson Morris serving as the highlight.

On the top offense, KJ Jefferson had a keeper over the left side before throwing incomplete to Morris on a short route, with cornerback Montaric Brown notching a pass breakup. On the third snap, Morris grabbed a short curl in front of a defensive back, who flew in angling for a breakup. Morris made the catch and had a free run going behind him before the play was whistled dead.

Raheim Sanders had a short run over the left side on the first snap for the second unit. After that, quarterback Malik Hornsby ran a keeper at the left edge, then threw incomplete after a rollout left, firing high and hot for Ketron Jackson Jr.

At the end of the session, freshman defensive back Chase Lowery stayed down on the turf with what looked like a knee injury and needed assistance coming off the field.

Cold streak

On a cold, drizzly day in Northwest Arkansas, the Razorbacks opened practice inside Walker Pavilion and stayed there throughout the workout.

The forecast calls for a couple of more wet, dreary days --including a high of 43 degrees on Wednesday. The current game day outlook is calling for a high of 59 degrees and a mostly sunny day following an overnight low of 34 degrees.

Odom offered

Garrett Odom, the son of Arkansas defensive coordinator Barry Odom, posted on his Twitter account that he has been offered a scholarship by Texas-San Antonio.

Odom is a freshman quarterback and safety at Shiloh Christian in Springdale.

UTSA Coach Jeff Traylor was the running backs coach at Arkansas in 2018-19. He has a 15-5 record at UTSA. The Roadrunners are 8-0 and ranked No. 16 in this week's Associated Press Top 25.

Barry Lunney Jr., a former Arkansas quarterback and assistant coach who was the Razorbacks' interim head coach for the last two games in 2019, is UTSA's offensive coordinator.

Dog honors

Mississippi State quarterback Will Rogers was named SEC Offensive Player of the Week by the league office on Monday.

The 6-2 sophomore from Brandon, Miss., completed 36 of 39 passes for 344 yards, with 1 touchdown and no interceptions in the Bulldogs' 31-17 home win over No. 12 Kentucky. Rogers' 92.3% completions broke the SEC record of 91.2% previously held by Tennessee's Josh Dobbs in a 2016 game against Vanderbilt.

Rogers bumped his completions this season to 327, surpassing Dak Prescott's single-season school record of 316 set in 2015.

Additionally, Mississippi State center LaQuinston Sharp was named SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week. Sharp had an 85.1 pass-blocking grade while playing all 46 pass-protection snaps and all 80 offensive snaps against the Wildcats. He did not allow any pressures against Kentucky.

Tube talk

The Arkansas at LSU football game scheduled for Nov. 13 at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge has been selected for a 6:30 p.m. kickoff and an SEC Network broadcast.

LSU leads the series by a 42-22-2 count, including five wins in a row since Arkansas notched a 31-14 upset of the No. 9 Tigers on Nov. 14, 2015, in Baton Rouge. That had been the Razorbacks' last win over a top 10 opponent until this year's team beat No. 7 Texas A&M 20-10 on Sept. 25.

Lost ground

The Razorbacks lost ground in the eyes of Associated Press poll voters during their open date week. Coming off its 45-3 win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Oct. 23, Arkansas was the top team among others receiving votes, so essentially No. 26, in the AP poll of Oct. 24, with 36 points.

Following their idle weekend, the Razorbacks improved their vote count to 72 but dropped to the fifth team among others receiving votes, or basically No. 30. That put the Hogs behind Pittsburgh (117), North Carolina State (104), Wisconsin (91) and Saturday's opponent, Mississippi State (79).

Arkansas was ranked for five consecutive weeks earlier in the season, cresting at No. 8 after improving to 4-0 with a 20-10 win over Texas A&M on Sept. 25.

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