For whatever reason, Arkansas’ offenses the past two years have not been able to get the ball into the hands of Treylon Burks on a consistent basis.
Sam Pittman knows it.
“Just get the ball in his hands,” Pittman said about Burks on Thursday afternoon in his final visit with the media before Saturday’s game with Missouri.
All he has to do is pick up the phone and call Bo Hembree, the coach in Warren who figured out that was a good idea when he saw Burks in the third grade.
“He’s dynamic, he’s big, he’s fast,” Pittman said. “We need to get the ball 10, 12, 15 times a game if we can to him. I don’t know if we’ll ever get him that many, but I’d like to see it in his hands that many times.”
To play devil’s advocate here, other teams aren’t exactly complete idiots. They can look at film, too.
They are doing things to keep the ball away from Burks or swarm him when he lines up in the Wildcat formation for a direct snap.
It’s not just passing, although there have been numerous times Burks is left uncovered on the old Bang 8-type play which is just a slant across the middle. If you’re wondering what that is, Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin rode that basic play to three Super Bowl wins in the early 1990’s.
“The way you force that I don’t think necessarily is in the passing game,” Pittman said. “I think you can throw some screens to him and things of that nature. Give him the ball on some motions and give him the ball out of the backfield and things of that nature.”
Adding T.J. Hammonds in the backfield along with Burks and big-play receiver Mike Woods is going to open up something with some speed coming out of the backfield. Maybe enough we can find the missing Trey Knox.
“He’s moved there and he’s earned the right to touch the ball more,” Pittman said about Hammonds. “He did a nice job against LSU and made a couple big plays for us. He’s had a really good week. It’s been a physical week here, but he’s had a really good week.”
If Hammonds has his head on straight and can stay focused, he adds some big-play dynamics to the Hogs’ offense. Against LSU, he had a 51-yard catch and a 29-yard run the only two times he got the ball.
“The guy that’s coming on a little bit is Hammonds,” Pittman said.
You get the idea the pieces are there. The task for offensive coordinator Kendal Briles is figuring out how to get the ball in the hands of the guys who can make the plays.
The problem is, though, that’s not quite as easy as it sounds.