We can only assume - based on intentionally released internal surveillance footage - that after Sam Pittman makes French toast, he coats it with a powder-sugar dusting swagger that is awesome to behold.
This is the only logical inference to make after seeing Arkansas’ offensive line coach recently strut into the Hogs’ practice facility like a certain 458-pound wrestling icon. An embedded camera, set up by the University of Arkansas itself, captures The Pittmaster moving with an almost pyrotechnic machismo. Just as flames start spiraling to the ceiling, he all the sudden stops.
The camera has been seen.
"Oh, I didn’t know he was taping that. I was walking out like I was King Kong Bundy," Pittman says to nearby linemen as he wheels around to do his entrance again. "Which I’m not, so I’m gonna walk out like normal people do."
Pittman may very well turn off the switch and fade into the masses when he so chooses, but his boys have no such option.
They likely form the nation’s biggest offensive line, each one averaging 6’6" and nearly 330 pounds. But they were about the same size last year, too, and did not perform as well as their size and the team’s power identity would have suggested. Bill Connolly, SB Nation’s advanced analytics maven, points out a few underwhelming stats from 2014 including a mediocre stuff rate (i.e. runs stopped at or behind the line of scrimmage). That happened, of course, with two experienced star running backs in Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins in the fold.
Hog coaches say this year’s o-line - which returns four starters - is now significantly more chiseled and explosive. Whether they prove to be as dominant as they look, though, will be a large factor in how well the Hogs overcome Williams’ loss to injury. The line’s expected improvement will not only be paramount to helping build confidence for young, inexperienced backs like Rawleigh Williams, but to protecting fifth-year senior quarterback Brandon Allen long enough to build a higher level of of trust with his receivers.
"With the exception of Hunter Henry, I don’t believe that [Allen] trusts his receivers to the point that he needs to be a quality SEC quarterback," former Hog quarterback Clint Stoerner said on Sports Talk with Bo Mattingly. You watch this guy, experience – he’s got it. Footwork – he’s got it. He moves enough; he can make some plays with his feet. The combination is there, the toolbox is there, but he’s got to find three or four guys that he really trusts and just let the football go."
In 1986, King Kong Bundy lost to Hulk Hogan in a hugely hyped World Heavyweight Championship conducted inside of a steel cage. While these two beef-tanks fought a few times, it wasn’t until late 1987 Bundy finally broke through and defeated his nemesis at long last.
There are plenty of benchmark moments left for this Hogs’ team, too, starting with the first defeat of a Saban-led Alabama squad. When it happens, look for Sam Pittman to again unleash that molten swagger - this time for the world to see.
Want to see Tyler Wilson’s thoughts on Jonathan Williams’ injury and Brandon Allen’s subpar scrimmage performance? Check out my new Arkansas sports interviews roundup page and see more details at the bottom of the page.