Ask Mike: Crowd Size For Saturday, KJ’s Future & What About AJ?

By Mike Irwin
on 2023-10-16 20:13 PM

Q: Our first question is from mousetown who asks: Are you still defending Enos and his offense? It took a monster play from KJ to kick start things late in the game but come on. This stuff doesn’t work.

A. I didn’t exactly defend it. I said I was going back an forth on just how much that offense factors into Arkansas’ problems. I ended up acknowledging that if the running game was better this offense would work better and really that’s a no brainer. However, after watching D.J.’s Breakdown in our Alabama Gameday show, once again I found myself questioning this offense. Without getting into a bunch of X’s and O’s, you could clearly see in the Ole Miss game video that some of the blocking assignments were flawed. I don’t understand a play where an offensive tackle is supposed to chase down a linebacker moving away from him to the other side of the center. On most plays you either block a defender straight up or block one that is moving toward your side of the center, not away from it.

In the Alabama game, once again, I found myself questioning the play calling. Arkansas did not cross the goal line until late in the 3rd quarter. They had five three and out possessions. Then, out of nowhere, they pulled off a 77 yard touchdown drive featuring 10 plays spanning 4 1/2 minutes of clock time. Ball control stuff. How did that happen? The play calling got better. More creative.

They followed that up with a 9 play 69 yard touchdown drive. Arkansas red zone issues vanished. KJ threw a 14 yard touchdown pass to Rashod Dubinion and added a two point conversion with another pass to Andrew Armstrong. It’s amazing what throwing the ball in those situations will do instead of the typical ‘we gotta run it behind an O-line that has trouble run blocking.’

I have to believe that back home with four of the last five games ahead of us, Enos will take a serious look at what worked and what didn’t work against Ole Miss and Alabama and alter his play calling.

Q. Hawgredneck says: You keep referencing D.J.’s breakdown. What is it and where can I watch it?

A. Former Arkansas all-SEC tight end DJ Williams, who also played in the NFL for the Packers, co-hosts our gameday show every Saturday from 10 to 11 am. In that one-hour show he has a feature called DJ’s breakdown. He takes game video from the week before and uses it to illustrate some issues. It’s good stuff but you have to watch it live because we can’t stream game video on the Internet. The SEC has a policy against that.

Q: Patboat says: Geez does AJ Green got to go 5 for 200 to get a real opportunity. Seriously who is pulling him out and what’s the issue?

A. Sam Pittman was asked about Green’s lack of touches in the offense. He said the coaches believe that Rashod Dubinion is a better inside runner. But he also said those two will split reps against Mississippi State this week.

Q. Hogdogger says: So impressed with our defense. They just keep getting better. Travis Williams has put it all together for the Hogs.

A. To me it’s one of the biggest turnarounds on one side of the ball by a new coordinator that I can remember. And you said it, it keeps getting better every week. Ole Miss is averaging 41 points a game. Arkansas held the Rebels to 27 points. They held Alabama to 24 points, the Tide scored 26 on Texas A&M and that’s the 10th best defense in the country.

It’s going to be interesting over these last five games to see if they can continue to improve.

Q. Chief Mac wants to know: Why are the receivers unable to get separation? What is the receiving corps lacking? Couldn’t some motion assist? Cornelius and Morgan were not physical specimens, but thrived in Enos’ scheme.

A. What we’re told is, except for Armstrong, they’re not that quick and maybe the routes need to be run better. I think a lot of it is on play calling. You send those guys into heavy traffic with KJ needing to unload it in a hurry and you end up with double coverage. We saw it late in the Alabama game, call better plays and guys can get open.

Q. JerryLynnNoble says: Not sure they can beat Vandy. Vandy has at least as much talent.

A. To me this is a typical over-reaction that you see on the Internet. Arkansas just played Alabama, a top 10 team and the leader in the SEC West, to three points ON THE ROAD. They played Ole Miss to seven points in Oxford. LSU to three points in Baton Rouge. Arkansas played Alabama closer than Ole Miss or Texas A&M. You really think Vandy could do that?

Some Arkansas fans are so mad they are not logical. I think these next five games are going to bring some of them back into reality.

Q. Space Hog says: The past few years, the recruiting services have said that the Hogs have risen in the recruiting rankings, slowly but surely. And yet, we have non D-I WRs and the OL is just awful. Were the rankings wrong?

A. The overall rankings are usually pretty accurate. Yes, the recruiting gurus sometimes miss on individual players. But if you think that Andrew Armstrong is not an SEC quality receiver because he played at an FCS school, you haven’t been watching him. Again, to me, they are not using Te’ Slaa properly. He’s better than what we’re seeing? The O-line? If Sam Pittman doesn’t know what’s wrong I sure don’t, but Arkansas’ recruiting has not been overrated. That’s not why this team has lost five straight.

Q. Miranda Veracruz de la Hoya Cardinal says: Dinkywitz and Missouri are going to end Pittman’s head coaching career

A. First of all I don’t think any team is going to end his career this season because I don’t think he’s going to get fired. As far as the Missouri game, yes, they are 6-1, have a quarterback who can run and throw, one really good receiver and a good running game. But LSU beat them by 10 in Columbia. Arkansas lost to LSU by 3 in Baton Rouge. Plus the Arkansas-Missouri game is at home. I like Arkansas’ chances in that game.

Q. lakecityhog asks: Do you think that maybe Pittman goes too far with going for it on 4th down? I understand the analytics thing, but should some of the intangibles be considered too?

A. I don’t know about it being an intangible but if I had this defense and this offensive line I’d be punting the ball or kicking field goals within a 55 yard range. The exception on going for it on with 4th and short would be if you are behind and running out of time in the 4th quarter.

Q. BlakeTaylor1112 says: No one wants to win more than the players and coaches. I think the best thing we can do as fans is to continue to support the players and give them a home field advantage. A good home field advantage is worth 7-10 points in games. Thoughts?

A. Hopefully this brutal four-game SEC stretch away from home hasn’t killed the crowd. You are right. There is still plenty to play for and hopefully a near capacity crowd will be there to create a huge homefield advantage.

Q. BloodRedHog asks: Did Holtz, Hatfield, Nutt or Petrino ever switch both of their offensive and defensive coordinators in the same year?

A. It would take a lot of research to check that out. More time than I have. I will say that most coaches face that problem in their first year. It didn’t hurt Lou Holtz in 77. But I understand the point of your question. Look at this this way. If Barry Odom had left two years ago and Travis Williams had already been here a year yes, the early part of this season would have gone much better. If Dan Enos comes back in 2024 will the offense be better? I’m not sure by how much but yes, we’d probably see it somewhat better. For one thing I think they are going on a portal hunt for offensive linemen when the season is over.

Q. Pigsfeat says: A lot of people are claiming that there is no such thing as a moral victory. I disagree! I guess they prefer losing by 30 so that they can turn the tv off an hour early?

A. Overall the social media reaction after the Bama game was positive. I read a lot of tweets and posts that weren’t predicting doom and gloom. I think a most fans are waiting to see how this team plays now that it’s back a home.

Q. Marty Byrde’s proxy wants to know: What’s your handicap on the remainder of the SEC. Can anyone beat Alabama and Georgia? Or do you think it’s business as usual.

A. I think Georgia is beatable but they’ll still win the east and Alabama will win the West so it’s business as usual except that I think Alabama will beat Georgia in the SEC championship game.

Q. Pig Worshipper says: I absolutely love that KJ Jefferson chose to be a Hog and he’s given us his all these last few years. Don’t we owe it to him to offer him one more season playing at his natural NFL position, tight end? Teamed up with Luke Hasz, we would be known as Tight End U.

A. I seriously he’ll doubt that he will ask for that option but you never know. If he comes back I think it will be as a quarterback under a new coordinator. But if Enos is still the OC in 2024 KJ might come back thinking he can adjust to his role in that offense. There’s also the possibility that he will declare for the draft or even transfer to another school.

Q. RazorAlex88 says: Fear not, Courtney! I’m still around and hanging in there! I’ll still be watching each game and hoping for a win and will still be in DWRRS for Miss. State and Auburn and most likely FIU…..

NOT SURE ABOUT THAT Mizzou game though… I just really do not like their M-I-Z cheer especially in our house. My optimism for a bowl game is gone (sorry, Mike) Would be so nice to come out of the Swamp with a win!

A. Glad you are still with us. Arkansas needs loyal fans.

Q. Dr. Strangepork says: Not a fan of the running clock in football, hate the pitching clock in baseball – they want to shorten the game? Quit the dadgum back-to-back commercials. No one watches them anyhow we all flip to the other games until the Hog game comes back on.

A. I agree completely but the various conferences keep asking for more and more money from the TV networks. They get that money but the price the viewers pay is long, and I do mean long, commercial breaks. This is the ultimate example of ignoring the customers. College sports may be one of the few businesses where you can do that. ADs and conference commissioners around the country have the attitude, what are you, the customer, going to do? Stop watching?

At some point this ‘money above everything’ mentality has to stop or they’re going to ruin the game and yes, people ARE going to stop watching.

(Last updated: 2023-10-16 20:13 PM)