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Arkansas' Sam Pittman: Gut feel over analytics

The Razorbacks' second-year coach contrasts his approach to that of his team's foe this weekend, Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin.

From his cowboy boots to his affinity for a jukebox in his home and in the locker room, Arkansas coach Sam Pittman brings an old-school persona into his present-day Razorbacks rejuvenation.

So Pittman does have an analytics expert on his Arkansas staff.

Likewise, he tends to trust his own instincts when it comes to applying the data versus his own instincts when it comes to in-game decisions.

“We have an analytics guru,” Pittman said Wednesday on the Southeastern Conference's weekly coaches' call. “I do it more on feel than I do on analytics [as it pertains to fourth-down and other in-game management situations].”

Arkansas visits Ole Miss Saturday, both teams still featuring in national rankings and coming off blowout-losses to Georgia and Alabama, respectively.

For Pittman's long climb to the top and offensive lineman roots, Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin is someone Pittman calls “one of the greatest offensive minds” in the game.

Pittman also points to Kiffin's affinity for attempting to keep the chains moving on fourth down rather than punting as perhaps evidence of Kiffin's usage of analytics.

“I think Coach Kiffin has gone for it little more than five times per game and only punted nine times,” Pittman said. “I'm assuming he looks at that maybe a little bit more than I do. A lot of my decisions go on feel of the game and things of that nature. What's the score and how the defense is playing. …

“(Kiffin) probably is a little bit smarter with analytics than I am.”

Each coach's approach is working in their respective rebuilds. Kiffin's Rebels are 14-for-19 this season on fourth-down attempts while Pittman's Hogs are 2-for-4.

In 15 games with Pittman atop the program, Arkansas is 9-for-15 on fourth-down conversion attempts.