Ask Mike: Guiton’s Big Debut, Refs in the Swamp & Where’d that O-line Blocking Come From?

By Mike Irwin
on 2023-11-07 00:03 AM

Q. Our first question this week comes from Hanna Smith who asks: Did the Florida win shock you? I noticed that you picked Arkansas to lose by a few points in that pregame show that ya’ll do. You seemed a little skeptical about what Guiton could do in a job he’s never had. I believed in him all the way.

A. It’s great that you believed in him but you clearly did it on faith. In my job I like to have direct knowledge of a situation before I buy in. I just felt that it would be very difficult for Guiton to step in not only as a play caller but the guy who directs the offense in team meetings and on the practice field. He also had to become the quarterbacks coach eight games into the season and he’d never done that before. Adding to that, we saw no practices. All we had to go on what what Pittman and selected players were saying in press conferences.

What surprises me is the sort of ‘Yeah, okay, he did a good job’ by a lot of the fans. What Kenney Guiton just did was amazing.

Let’s look at the running game because that’s where I was really unsure going in. How is a receivers coach going to improve the running game? Arkansas came in averaging 109 yards per game. 42 yards rushing against Texas A&M. 36 yards in the Ole Miss game. At Florida: 226 yards.

For the first time this season the Hogs had a 100 yard rusher and they almost had two. Rocket Sanders went for 103 and KJ Jefferson had 92. Rocket averaged just under six yards per carry. KJ a tick under five and a half. Remember all those games where A.J. Green or Rashod Dubinion would average like 1.1 yards per carry?

Some of the Internet fans are still saying they didn’t see much from the O-line. You’ve gotta be kidding me. Did those yards come out of thin air? Rocket and KJ made themselves invisible to Florida’s defense? Go back and watch the game on replay. The blocking was there.

Also look at this: Florida came in undefeated at home giving up an average of 11 points per game in the Swamp. The Hog dropped 39 on them, 33 in regulation play. That’s triple the numbers.

So yeah I was surprised. I didn’t figure anything like this.

But if you watched some of the post game video after they came off the field and the locker room stuff it was obvious that when Pittman said all that stuff about the players really bonding with Guiton, he was right. I mean this guy even took off his shirt and ran around the locker-room like Musselman. That’s some real Club Dub stuff.

You also have to give credit to Pittman. All that Internet stuff over the last two weeks about how he doesn’t know what to do. Doesn’t know how to make decisions? Well he got this one right and it was huge.

Q. Man Without a Tribe says: I was the last man on the Pittman train but even I think his time at Arkansas has passed. The state of the O-line is absolutely inexcusable- and yesterday did nothing to change that opinion.

A. Obviously this man is not the last man on the Pittman train. Even before this game there were more fans on it than off if it so I have to believe this is a figure of speech. But there’s nothing unclear about his O-line comment and its an obvious case of wanting Pittman gone so badly that he’s going to try to convince Pittman’s supporters that they didn’t see what they saw, that the O-line was as bad as always. Again KJ and Rocket had holes to run through. It didn’t happen on every play but Rocket didn’t lose a single yard in that game. His total yards were the same as his net yards and AJ Green had just one lost yardage play while gaining 36. You don’t do that without blocking.

Q. Don M says: Big predictions off a single win over a mediocre team….regardless of the stadium.

A. Don’t you love this stuff? First, “a win over a mediocre team.” Well that mediocre team beat Tennessee 29-16. Tennessee is 7-2 overall and currently tied for second in the SEC East.

“Regardless of the stadium?” A place where no Arkansas team had ever won before? Again those who refuse to acknowledge this was a big win have an agenda, to get Sam Pittman fired. They will minimize anything positive. Jump all over anything negative. That’s how it works.

Q: Razoralex88 says: Here I am for ANOTHER “therapy session” with Mike and Courtney! But it’s an after-win session and not an after-loss therapy session! FINALLY!!! Hope Courtney is ok with the Hogs beating her alma mater! Love ya Courtney but Woo Pig!!

A. There you have it. The other side of the coin. A fan who doesn’t walk around mad or miserable to the point where he can’t take time off to enjoy a win regardless of what comes next week or next year. Got no problem with complaints or legitimate observations but staying angry after win like that? Come on.

Q. Marty Byrde’s proxy asks: If the offense at least holds serve the rest of the way…at least similar production as Saturday, do you see Kenny Guiton being given the reins of the offense next season? We could (and have) done worse. And do you see any “analysts” being brought on board next year?

A. Obviously he took a big step forward in the Florida game. He’s got a leg up on that job for sure. A continued offensive turnaround would all but give him the job.
They’ve got analysts. I’m sure if Guiton and or Pittman sees the need to bring in a specific analyst to help out Guiton they’d do that.

Q. Mousetown wants to know: Are you concerned about the way Florida blew right by our defense scoring in three plays right after the offense gave us the lead with 4 1/2 to go in the game? Seems like we can’t get our offense and defense playing together.

A. This has happened before this season. It’s a case of the defense being on the field a lot holding the score down. Keeping the game close. Then the offense makes a late surge to tie the game or even give the Hogs the lead and by that time the defense is gassed. Until this game it resulted in a loss. But the offense and defense were on the same page in the OT period. The defense forced Florida into a field goal. The offense came on the field and scored in three plays. First down. First down. Touchdown. I’m encouraged by that. That was different.

DeWitt Razorback asks: With the way the season has gone for KJ up until the Florida game, do you think there’s a decent chance that we could see him back for his final year of eligibility?

Former Razorback quarterback Matt Jones thinks it’s going to happen. I have no idea. It could create an issue with Jacolby Criswell. They brought him in to redshirt this season then take over in 2024. If KJ could keep his current NIL deals he will make more at Arkansas than he would any NFL signing bonus he’d get. Who knows, a really good season next year might improve his draft stock.

Q. Mike_e says: About the next guy, is there an offensive coordinator out there who could take a program like ours and step into the head coach roll and run with it?

A. Just my opinion but I think whenever Yurachek does hire a the next head coach it’s not going to be another team’s coordinator no matter how good the guy is. It’s not going to be a retread head coach like Tom Herman or Dan Mullen. It will be a younger coach who has built a winning program a maybe at the D-2 level, built another winning program at a mid major. Winning is winning. If you can do it at those levels you can do it in the SEC using the same principles including recruiting. It’s happened at Kansas.

Q. Semper_a_Hog asks: What is the deal with the crazy officiating in the Swamp? I get that you can’t get every call right, but playing in the Swamp always seems to bring out the worst in the refs (to Arkansas’ disfavor).

A. Every game has missed calls but like the 2009 game in the Swamp, this one had two big ones that could have decided the game in Florida’s favor. A fumble recovered by Arkansas in the third quarter that would have had them easily within field goal range and possibly a touchdown. The refs ruled that forward progress had been stopped by the player who had fumbled before the fumble. Replays showed that to be incorrect. How they reviewed that and came to the conclusion that it was not a fumble is beyond me.

There was also a failure by the refs to allow Arkansas time to bring in substitutes after Florida had substituted right before the Gators tried a game winning field goal. That would have run the clock out with the game going to OT. Thankfully Florida missed that field goal otherwise we’d have another huge controversy in another Arkansas loss in the Swamp.

Q. BloodRedHog says: It’s obvious one issue that led to Enos’ firing was that he practiced certain plays during the week, but didn’t call those plays during the game. Any guess as to why he would do this?

A. Just a guess but it’s possible that Enos kept looking for plays that would work. He’d try them in practice and they didn’t work there so we never saw them in a game.

Q. TheHAWGfather wants to know: Which SEC Football coaches do you think are actually in the HOT seat this year? I think Sam gets another year, but not sure about Napier or Jimbo. Arnett was an emotional hire and Miss St. may find it hard to let him go. All have underperformed, IMHO.

A. Jimbo is definitely on the hot seat. Aggie fans want him gone. Will the school pay his 70 million dollar buyout? I don’t know. The work out of Florida is that Napier will be back because of a strong recruiting class. But if the Gators don’t make a bowl game and they lose some of those commitments that situation could change. Arnett is probably gone IMO.

Q. revolution asks: What football coaches around the country do you admire the job they do? Anyone under the radar? Same question with basketball. And baseball, too, if you have an opinion.

A. I’m a Nick Saban guy. I think he’s the best coach in the history of college football. He’s no longer under the radar but Kansas head coach Lance Leipold has done an amazing job with football program that was a joke for many years. He started off as the head coach at Wisconsin-Whitewater in 2007. Moved on to Buffalo in 2015 and he’s now in his third season at Kansas. He’s won at all of those schools and has proved that winning is winning no matter what the school, at what level.

Basketball, I know Hog fans don’t like Tennessee but by all accounts Rick Barnes, recruits, he wins, he treats his players well and he doesn’t cheat. I’d take him any day over a coach like Bruce Pearl at Auburn.

Baseball I’d go with LSU head coach Jay Johnson. Outside of DVH he’s about as good as it gets. LSU had underachieved for years. Not bad, just not what they should have been given the history of the program. He’s got ’em going again.

Q. parallaxpig wants to know: What are your most “unique” memories of Arkansas facilities? Mine was as a student in Eddie Sutton’s first year. As we were sitting in bleachers at Barnhill watching game, the track team had a pole vault pit behind us. They would practice vaulting while game was going on.

A. Mine would probably be the day I noticed that the area under the west stands of Razorback Stadium was being used as a storage facility for used or discarded athletic equipment. There were old track hurdles there. tackling dummies and blocking sleds for football plus. baseball nets. I asked what was up with that and I was told that Frank Broyles did not want to waste money on a storage facility for all that stuff so he stuck it under the concourse area where the fans entered and exited the west stands. If you stood up there and looked down at it during a game it was hard to see because it was fairly dark below. From the ground level standing to the side of the portable seats in the south endzone you could see it clearly. It looked like a big junk pile.

All of that went away in the 1999 renovation of what became Reynolds Razorback Stadium. That area is now a nice walkway with long rows of glass cases that display photos and mementos from Arkansas bowl games in the past.

Q. hotdogger asks: What’s the deal on Jersey Wolfenbarger? Is she headed to the transfer portal?

A. She entered the portal for a brief time but when she found out that she could not transfer out of it until next spring she pulled out. She will now sit out of basketball for the upcoming season so as not to lose a year of eligibility and play again as a junior in the 2024-25 season. Arkansas coach Mike Neighbors took the blame for not developing her. He said he has a long term plan but it didn’t go well. But there are also those close to that situation who say that at her next school Wolfenbarger needs to bring a lot more effort with her.

Q. BASSNHAWG asks: What’s up with with the Pig Trail Nation team wearing all black at FL? I know they knew the Gators were having a black out for the game. Courtney is a FL alum but come on, y’all are supposed to be representing Hogs not Gators on your show.

A. There was no intent to black out with Gator fans. A lot of the road clothes we wear with the Pig Trail logo features darker colors. It had nothing to do with Florida fans.

(Last updated: 2023-11-07 00:03 AM)