No. 2 Georgia squaring off with No. 8 Arkansas has turned into the biggest game in the country this upcoming weekend. If you told that to SEC fans before the season, there is not a chance that a single one would have believed you.
Arkansas head coach Sam Pittman has done an extraordinary job of turning the Razorbacks into a top-10 program from a bottom dweller in the SEC West. It makes it all the more impressive considering this is only his second season as a head coach after leaving Georgia, where he served as offensive line coach for four years.
“[Pittman] is a tremendous leader of men,” said Georgia head coach Kirby Smart on Monday. “That’s the number one discipline we’re charged with. How do you lead your men? How much do they believe in you? That, he’s got the ultimate going on right now. 100 percent, those men in that locker room believe in Sam Pittman and what he tells them. They believe it and go out and play like it.”
The Razorbacks will bring the 11th best defense in the country in terms of points allowed per game. Arkansas has only given up 14.5 points per game this season. They’re also led by K.J. Jefferson at quarterback, who is one of the more physically imposing players at that position in the country, weighing 245 pounds under center.
He’ll mainly be throwing to 6-foot-3 receiver Treylon Burks who comes into Saturday’s matchup as the SEC’s second-leading receiver. Burks has 373 yards and two touchdowns on the season.
Georgia beat Arkansas 37-10 just over a year ago to open up the 2020 season. This time, Georgia players expect to see a different Razorbacks team than the one they saw in Fayetteville then.
“They are not the same Arkansas team we faced last year, they are way more physical,” said Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean. “This is the kind of game that we here at Georgia look for, a game that we can be physical. We pride ourselves on our toughness and physicality. I am sure everyone on the team is excited for the game as I am.”
Arkansas’ defense is also led by Barry Odom as the coordinator, who used to be the head coach at Missouri. Smart believes experience is one reason for the Razorbacks’ early-season success.
“Make no mistake about it, this is not the Arkansas that we played last year,” said Smart. “Those guys up front, he’s got three transfers, two from Missouri and one from Illinois State and they play extremely hard. They are extremely physical and they create an immense amount of problems for the people they play.”
Despite the top-10 matchup, Georgia still opens this week as an 18.5 point favorite over the Razorbacks. The Bulldogs still have the No. 1 defense in the country in terms of points allowed and will be the toughest test yet for the Razorbacks after a 4-0 start.
For Smart’s full Monday presser click here: