Georgia football: Sam Pittman-coached Arkansas may not be a pushover

Georgia Bulldogs and Arkansas Razorbacks at War Memorial Stadium (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Georgia Bulldogs and Arkansas Razorbacks at War Memorial Stadium (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

Georgia football fans have been salivating to get this 2020 season started, but is the opener against Arkansas a potential trap game for the Dawgs?

Make no mistake, Georgia football fans, Arkansas has not been good at football for quite some time. They’ve had three straight losing seasons, haven’t beaten an SEC opponent since October 28, 2017, against Ole Miss, and haven’t won a postseason game since the 2016 Liberty Bowl against Kansas State.

That doesn’t mean the Bulldogs will have an easy time in Fayetteville for the first game of the 2020 season. In fact, it could be the biggest trap game Georgia has had in quite some time.

While the Razorbacks are probably a long way from being the force they once were in the SEC West under the beleaguered Bobby Petrino, they’re also not likely to be the inept, discombobulated team they were under Bret Bielema and Chad Morris.

With former Georgia offensive line coach Sam Pittman at the helm, Arkansas will probably cause more problems for more SEC teams this year than many believe, Georgia included.

Georgia vs Arkansas game notes (via

WHO: No. 4 Georgia Bulldogs vs Arkansas Razorbacks
WHEN: Sept. 26, 4:00 p.m. ET
VENUE: Reynolds Razorback Stadium Fayetteville, Ark.
TV: SEC Network – Dave Neal (PxP), D.J. Shockley (analyst), Tera Talmadge (sidelines)
LOCAL RADIO: Georgia Bulldog Sports Network (IMG) – Scott Howard (play-by-play); Eric Zeier (color analyst); Chuck Dowdle (sideline)
SiriusXM RADIO/Internet: 137/191/962 (Georgia broadcast)
SERIES RECORD: Georgia leads, 10-4
LAST MEETING: Georgia 45, Arkansas 32 – Oct. 18, 2014

Why Georgia football fans should be worried about the Hawgs

Georgia is predicted to win big against Arkansas (26.5 points according to the latest spread from FanDuel) and if you look at this game on paper, the Bulldogs clearly have the better, more experienced team.

What does Arkansas have? Besides an exciting transfer quarterback in Feleipe Franks and a running back who is probably one of the best in the nation in Rakeem Boyd, the Razorbacks have one other thing that needs to be taken into consideration.

A giant chip on their shoulders.

As it stands, most are predicting the Razorbacks to go winless this year in the revised schedule, even finishing behind Vanderbilt in the overall SEC standings.

For a coach like Pittman, who is as tough as a piece of iron and loves using press clippings as motivation, that’s enough to really get his young team fired up.

The tone of this game will be set early on, and if the Razorbacks’ emotion causes some big turnovers or huge chunk plays during the first quarter, that will only build and the Bulldogs will have a serious battle on their hands.

That said, the expectation is that Georgia will pound, pound, pound the suspect Arkansas defensive line, and make ball control the name of the game. If that happens, that pregame point spread will look rather small by the time the game is over.

Georgia football vs Feleipe Franks has an ugly history

As excited as Arkansas fans may be to have landed transfer quarterback Feleipe Franks, the former Florida signal-caller may not be quite as thrilled to face Georgia again.

The past run-ins with the Dawgs have been anything but memorable for the much-ballyhooed quarterback when he was a Gator. In 2017, Georgia dominated the Gators 42-7, and Franks went 7-for-19 and only 30 yards, throwing one interception.

His 2018 game against the Bulldogs wasn’t much more successful, with Franks going 13-for-21 and only 105 yards, with a touchdown and an interception in a 36-17 Georgia win. In that game, Franks was constantly knocked down and sacked once by the Bulldogs defense.

That said, Franks has had some spectacular games in his career. When he’s on, he’s hard to stop. The problem is he hasn’t been consistent at all. Georgia will need to rattle him early and get him out off his game, which has proven to be effective in the past.

Pittman and new offensive coordinator Kendal Briles want to bring tempo to the game. A good plan when facing a team like Georgia who depends on defensive substitutions to keep fresh bodies getting after the quarterback and receivers, but it could backfire.

Former head coach Chad Morris also wanted to employ a sped-up offense, with no-huddle packages and quick snaps at the line. Unfortunately, he never really had the personnel to work as he did at Clemson, and that plan quickly turned disastrous.

While there have been a couple of upgrades in this offseason, it’s hard to see Arkansas being able to speed things up and to get the Georgia defense on its heels. How Franks handles making his reads will go a long way to making things work.

A trap game? Could be. When you face a head coach who just left your program and knows the ins and outs as well as anyone, and his team is predicted to once again be the conference doormat, there is some cause for concern.

Probably not enough to concern the Bulldogs deeply. I’d take the Bulldogs in a win, but would beware that large spread in a road opener given the circumstances of how the pandemic has affected the ability to prepare this season.

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