People have spent two years getting paralysis by analysis over the problem with Arkansas mired in a 4-20 run of unprecedented futility, but it was really kind of obvious.
They were soft. Physically and mentally.
It started from the top and filtered down through an entire team that didn’t trust the coaches who really didn’t have a head coach that knew how to be a head coach.
Sam Pittman has never been a head coach at the major college level, either, but already is acting and sounding like he’s been one more than the previous coaches.
Take the reports of Friday’s scrimmage.
“We have to get in better shape,” he said Friday after giving the numbers in the scrimmage. “We’re not there yet nor did we think we would be.”
Pittman put them through a long scrimmage in the hottest part of a day that was sweltering. It was hot just walking outside, much less banging on other guys and running with pads on.
That was how he chose to end the first week that was mostly in pads.
In today’s world of college football with the practices spread out due to the delay caused by the coronavirus, everybody is trying to figure out how to get folks in shape.
Remember, instead of working through a spring practice and an off-season conditioning schedule directly overseen by the strength coach, players spent months away from the facilities.
Now they’ve got several weeks with workouts spread out before the opening game against Georgia on Sept. 26.
“The practices being spread is a good point,” Pittman said. “Any time you have that lengthy of a scrimmage and it’s hot, I’m not for sure you’re ever ready for it whether it’s mentally or physically.”
First scrimmage of the season with a new staff and nobody really had an idea what to expect.
“You know how it is when you don’t know what’s coming?” Pittman said. “The next time you know exactly what the expectation is, how long it’s going to be, how many plays I have. The next one will be much better.”
One of the things Pittman has mentioned before is not being pleased with how the players come on and get off the field between drills. You get the idea it’s a big deal for him.
“We just have to transition better on and off the field,” he said, referring to what he’s wanting to see. In other words, no casual strolls out to line up.
It’s part of the instilling a new air of just being, well, tough around the Hogs.
“We have to push ourselves and a lot of that goes back to that mental toughness,” Pittman said. “We HAVE to express that mental toughness. If we do it will help us get in shape because instead of jogging off the field we’ll be running off.”
There won’t be a break anytime soon.
“Next week is a work week,” Pittman said. “It will be identical to this week. It’s a go-get-it week once again. We may tackle once other than the scrimmage, but it would be on a limited basis.”
He’ll start working on getting ready for Georgia in a couple of weeks. That’s not going to happen soon.
“We’re not worried about (the players’) legs and all that stuff right now,” he said. “We’re worried about getting in shape.
“We won’t back off the pedal for at least another two weeks.”
It’s the way experienced football coaches literally work a team into shape.
Pittman is also using it to develop a tough mental approach.
That hasn’t been around in a few years.