Hogs-LSU football game is on for now, but virus slices into Hogs’ depth

For the moment, the Arkansas Razorbacks (3-4) and LSU Tigers (2-3) are on for an 11 a.m. kickoff Saturday at Reynolds Razorback Stadium, but according to Hogs’ head coach Sam Pittman, it’s by the hair of the Razorbacks’ chinny, chin, chin.

The Razorbacks took their third weekly Covid-19 test Thursday and should have the results back early Friday. If the Hogs’ positive test numbers don’t jump, then the game is on.

However, the Razorbacks’ numbers are slim enough after testing and contact tracing earlier in the week to leave a question in Pittman’s mind.

Next up for the Razorbacks

Opponent: vs. LSU
When: 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 21
Where: Fayetteville, Ark
TV: SEC Network
Current Record: 3-4

Remaining schedule

Nov. 28 – at Missouri
Dec. 5 – Alabama

As firm as Pittman would get Thursday in a Zoom teleconference was to say, “I don’t feel good about Covid. I mean, I think everybody’s looking for an answer, and I’ll give you the answer: We’re going to play Saturday, as of right now. We’re going to play. We have a test that we took today that gets back (Friday). We want to play the game. But you have to have adequate numbers to play the game, and we are thin. If we have a good test then, by golly, we’re going to play the game. We want to play the game.”

Update: Pittman posted on Twitter at 9:30 a.m. Friday, “Game On. We need everyone we can get in here tomorrow!

Up until now, the Razorbacks had navigated the pandemic fairly well. The Hogs have played all games as scheduled. LSU has not been as lucky. The Tigers have had two games postponed, including last week’s which would have pitted last year’s national champion Tigers against No. 1 Alabama.

LSU has not played since Halloween, three weeks, ago, but head coach Ed Ogeron said his Tigers would be as healthy as they likely are going to be this season. The question is how much rust has settled in after being sidelined for three weeks?

The Razorbacks have not beaten the Tigers since defeating them back-to-back in 2015 and 2016, not coincidentally that’s during the time Pittman served as Bret Bielema’s offensive line coach.

Offensive lineman from those teams and other Razorbacks drafted a letter to Arkansas athletic director Hunter Yurachek in support of Arkansas hiring Pittman as the Hogs next head coach around this time last year after Chad Morris had been fired with an open date left and two games left on the schedule.

Ironically, Pittman feels that the success Ogeron, a former defensive line coach at LSU, and Southern Cal as well as a former assistant strength coach at Arkansas, paved the way for him getting the Arkansas job by having success as a head coach after being a successful position coach rather than a coordinator.

Ogeron said Pittman thanked him for it when they met previously, and that he reiterated it during a phone call to the LSU coach Monday.

As an aside, the more you learn about some coaches, the less you like or respect them. That has definitely not been the case with Pittman. Nearly every week if not more often, you hear a story or tidbit about Pittman that makes me appreciate and respect the man and the way he conducts his business.

As for Saturday’s game, it’s a difficult one to dissect when there is no way of knowing which Razorbacks will be able to participate and which ones won’t because of the virus and contact tracing.

At this moment, one can just hope Thursday’s round of testing doesn’t force a postponement or at this point a possible cancelation because of the games LSU has already missed.

It’s time for the Hogs and Tigers to line up with what they have, and see what happens.