FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — “I’m not promoting it but I like some cold beer,” said Pittman after a very physical season opening win over Cincinnati on Saturday.
Earlier in the week Pittman was asked what to expect from the Bearcat offense since they hadn’t named a starting quarterback.
“Some people bring tea and some bring liquor.”
Arkansas’ defense was hit with a solid aerial attack. Ben Bryant, who started his career as a Bearcat before transferring to Eastern Michigan and back for this season, overthrew a few wide open receivers early in the game. However, Fickel’s team made the right adjustments in order to move the football better in the second half.
Bryant finished the game 26-43 passing for 325 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
On the Arkansas side of things, redshirt junior quarterback, KJ Jefferson had himself a day throwing for three touchdowns and adding another one on the ground. Jefferson was an efficient 18-26 passing for 223 yards and added 62 yards rushing.
Pittman talks about his starting quarterback being the vocal leader of his Razorback team. When the game is a little close, Jefferson takes his play to the next level.
“Seems to me like when the game gets a little tighter, a little closer, when he’s really got to take over the game, he’s got the knack to do it,” Pittman said. “Seemed to me like most every time we need him to win the game, he makes some kind of play.
Did Arkansas find themselves a dynamic duo through the air against Cincinnati? It did seem that way as tight end, Trey Knox, was called on early and often on Saturday.
The senior out of Murfreesboro, Tenn., caught six passes for 75 yards. Knox also caught a career high two touchdown passes on Saturday.
His first touchdown helped give the Hogs a 14-0 lead right before halftime. Knox’s second was on a swing pass in the flat that he took32-yards down the sideline to nearly put the game away in the fourth quarter.
“[Knox] worked hard at tight end and he believes he’s a tight end. He is. He’s a good one,” Pittman said. “Coming off the field on his second TD and went down their side and I said ‘You happy you moved to tight end?’ Those are special moments because you never know if it’s going to work out.”
For the third consecutive season in the Pittman era, Arkansas plays one of the toughest if not the toughest schedule in college football. The Razorbacks embrace it and Pittman wants to bring on any program that wants to play.
“When Cincinnati was put on the schedule I was saying ‘why?’ to be honest with you,” Pittman said. “Am I tickled to death that we’re 1-0 and we beat Cincinnati? Yes. I don’t want to play them. We’ve already played them once. That’s plenty.”
Defensively, many transfers shined including Dwight McGlothern who had a huge interception that led to Arkansas’ first score of the game.
Jordan Domineck and Drew Sanders each had a sack. Plus, Landon Jackson and Latavious Brini contributed well when called upon.
The Bearcats took advantage of a pair of Razorbacks defensive stars being out with injuries in the second half. Both Jalen Catalon and Myles Slusher exited the game and never returned.
Pittman said after the game that Slusher should be fine but didn’t know the extent of Catalon’s injury.
Next week, Arkansas will find out how ready they are for the SEC with South Carolina in town for a 11 AM start.
The Razorbacks lead the all-time series 13-10. South Carolina has won the last three meetings between the two schools. Both programs met on an annual basis as cross-division rivals until the 2013 season.
ESPN will televise the matchup beginning at 11 AM next Saturday.