Red-White scrimmage difficult to diagnose, Pittman’s leadership is not

Some will tell you that onlookers can’t read much into a spring scrimmage like Sam Pittman’s Arkansas Razorbacks held last Saturday. Others dote on every detail.

I can’t say either is right or wrong. It is kinda how you want to look at it.

However, I think Pittman put the scrimmage in perfect perspective Saturday in his post-practice Zoom meeting with the media when he called the scrimmage just one of 15 productive practices the Hogs had this season.

The good and the bad last Saturday isn’t any more weighty than in any of the Razorbacks’ other 14 workouts. However, the cumulative effect of them no doubt strengthened the Hogs for the season that will be here before we know it.

Yes, the four months and a few days between now and September can seem like a long time, especially after the last year that we’ve all experienced.

As Razorback football fans, we should be thankful the Hogs were even able to have spring practice after last year’s Covid-19 inspired hiatus. Though 3-7 is nobody’s idea of a great season, I think we did see the renewal of passion within the Razorback football program that had somehow been waning or lost in recent years.

Pittman would credit his players and assistant coaches for that, and while he does promote a player-led atmosphere, Pittman’s manner, wisdom, and leadership is at the heart of the turnaround that we witnessed last year if not in the team’s record then in the hope for the future.

Just as he does with his players, Pittman’s demeanor builds confidence among fans that the Razorback ship is being righted and that better days are ahead for the Hogs.

Pittman and his coaches have done a solid job in recruiting, but the cupboard isn’t yet totally restocked.

As hard as we saw the Razorbacks play and compete last season, it was easy to see that depth was a concern as possible victories against LSU and Missouri slips through the Hogs’ grasp last November.

Some of that was issues with coronavirus, but those losses also speak to Arkansas’ issues with depth. But those issues come when a program has three different head coaches in a four-year period. It takes time to build continuity and depth, but Pittman and the Hogs made steps toward that this spring.

While instability was an issue Pittman had to deal with in his first season, he seems to have shorn up many of those issues not only by giving his players direction but also treating his them like men and giving them a role in leading what is ultimately their team.

It’s too early to make projections for next season. While I figure the Hogs won’t go undefeated this fall, as a fan I hate conceding any game before it’s played.

My main thought, though, is we saw how much progress the Razorbacks made in just playing the game with purpose and intent in Pittman’s first season. I think we’ll see that type of play pay off to an even greater extent this fall.