FAYETTEVILLE — For the second week in a row and the third time this season, the Southeastern Conference notes that Cam Little means a lot to the Arkansas Razorbacks.
Freshman place-kicker Little of Moore, Oklahoma, was named the SEC Special Teams Player of the Week, the SEC Office announced Monday in Birmingham, Alabama.
In three attempts, the last beating the LSU Tigers, 16-13 in overtime in last Saturday night’s SEC West game at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Little kicked field goals of 48, 27 and 37 yards.
The previous Saturday in Arkansas’ 31-28 SEC West success over Mississippi State at Reynolds Razorback Stadium, Little in four attempts successfully kicked field goals of 46, 48 and a season-long 51 yards and was named SEC Special Teams Player of the Week by the SEC Office.
Little was named SEC Freshman of the Week on Sept. 27 after kicking 46 and 24-yard field goals and 2 of 2 PATs when Arkansas on Sept. 25 upset then seventh-ranked Texas A&M, 20-10 at the Dallas Cowboys AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
After Arkansas cornerback Montaric Brown intercepted quarterback Garrett Nussmeier’s pass in the end zone ending LSU’s first and only overtime possession, Arkansas coach Sam Pittman devoted Arkansas’ first three overtime downs starting at the LSU 25-yard line with quarterback KJ Reed running strictly up the middle positioning for Little’s kick.
“Once Mo picked our second one we were just trying to get a few more yards and then put it in the middle because we got Mr. Automatic back there,” Pittman said postgame of Little in Baton Rouge. “And man did he do a nice job.”
So did Jefferson, Pittman said at his Monday press conference, of the 6-foot-2, 245-pound quarterback ridding himself of LSU tacklers trying to sack him on a night that Arkansas struggled offensively.
“On the offensive side of the ball, I thought KJ Jefferson basically took the game over,” Pittman said Monday. “There were so many times he could’ve been sacked.”
Pittman took pains Monday to praise safety Myles Slusher, whose earlier interception of a Nussmeier pass he inadvertently postgame credited to Brown in the excitement of Brown’s pick, setting up Little’s game-winner.
“I thought Myles Slusher played a really good game,” Pittman said Monday. “Obviously, I said after the game about Mo Brown picking both passes. I made a mistake. I knew Myles picked a pass. It just came out wrong. Certainly, want to give him credit for picking that pass. It was a heck of a play. He’s playing really well.”
So, Pittman said Monday, did nose guard John Ridgeway, the graduate transfer via Illinois State, Brown and especially senior linebackers Bumper Pool. Grant Morgan and Hayden Henry.
“I thought John Ridgeway played well defensively,” Pittman said. “I thought Mo Brown played a great football game. I mean he really did. I don’t know that any of the men he was covering caught a pass on him. He was really good. I think we’re getting better in the secondary, but our linebackers were outstanding. They were everywhere. All three of them. They played really well.”
Pool, Morgan and Henry respectively were credited with 13, 11 and 10 tackles.
On the corrections side, Pittman turned to the struggles offensively against LSU’s blitzing defense and pivotal penalties, a season-long problem, including in Baton Rouge jumping offsides and a possession killing personal foul.
“The penalties are frustrating,” Pittman said. “Very frustrating. We had a lengthy talk about that. We have to do something different because it’s not getting fixed. But it has to get fixed.”
He knows there’s little to zero margin for penalty errors this Saturday. Pittman’s 7-3 overall, 3-3 in the SEC West No. 22 in this week’s AP poll and 25th in last week’s College Football Playoff poll Razorbacks, meet the nationally No. 2/reigning national champion Alabama Crimson Tide, 9-1, 5-1, in Saturday’s 2:30 p.m. CBS televised SEC West game at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
“We know they have an outstanding team,” Pittman said.
Alabama freshman quarterback Bryce Young, whom Pittman of course cited, is generally deemed the leading candidate for the Heisman Trophy.
But linebacker Will Anderson was the first Pittman praised Monday among coach Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide.
“Certainly, defensively, Will Anderson is as good a player as anybody has on their team,” Pittman said. “He’s going to be a major concern of ours. The number one thing you try to do is not let a difference-maker make a difference. In his case, it’s very, very difficult. It’s been fun to watch how different teams have tried to approach that problem – none of them having too much success.”