Ask Mike: Muss Talk, Tackling in the Spring, Plus a Story About Silver Lake & Razorback Hogs

By Mike Irwin
on 2024-03-18 18:09 PM

Q. Our first question is from mousetown who asks: Was I right or what? I knew this team would turn back into what it was for most of the season. Bad shot selection. Poor defense. South Carolina smoked ’em. Muss needs to clean house.

A. Once again I have to disagree with you. It was a two point game at the half. Both teams were playing at a high level. To me Arkansas was gassed in the second half. That late night OT win over Vandy did them in. They got it together midway though the half. Got it to six and then you could just see the energy go. We all knew they weren’t gonna win that tournament. They didn’t have the overall talent or bench to do that. Lets look at the minutes played in the Vandy game. Trevon Brazile: 42:17. Khalif Battle: 40:24. Tramon Mark: 37:54. Makhi Mitchell: 34:40. Devo Davis: 32:15. El Ellis played 21 minutes. Chandler Lawson 10 and Jeremiah Davenport 5. That’s it. Eight guys and five of them played most of the game.

Against South Carolina only two players went over 30 minutes. Brazile’s playing time was more than cut in half. Jalen Graham, who had missed several games, went almost 20 minutes. Chandler Lawson went from 10 to 16 minutes. Muss did that because his core six was gassed.

As far as cleaning house not sure how many you want gone but there are some guys I’d sure like to see back. Battle and Mark especially. We’ll see.

Q. Hog Redneck wants to know: How credible is that story about some of the Arkansas players in the hotel lobby before the South Carolina game making fun of the coaches? If it’s true we can see there was a cancer in the locker room.

A. An Internet site published a story on that. The reporter didn’t see it. He heard it from some fans in the lobby who allegedly saw this happen. Here’s the problem with that. How do we know that they didn’t misinterpret what they saw? Do we know for a fact that the players were talking about Arkansas coaches? It has more credibility if more than one fan saw it. But we don’t have any names of the players supposedly involved. No player has talked about it. Muss has not talked about it. It this point it’s a rumor and that’s all it is.

If it turned out to be true it would not be a shock. Fans have been complaining since December that some of these players didn’t appear to be buying into Muss’ system and didn’t appear to have embraced the Razorback culture. They saw the same thing in a lot of the football players last season. That’s why there was a mass exodus off the football team when the season was over. If this rumor is true then Muss knows who these players are. They won’t be back if they have any eligibility left.

Q. T. L. Slaten asks: Now that the season is over any updates on Musselman? Is he about to leave?

A. Some say maybe. Other say no. It’s a waiting game I guess. Supposedly the heading on his Instagram page has been changed from Arkansas Head Coach to just head coach. Supposedly his wife deleted her X account. That could have been done just because she got tired of all the questions about his future.

Q. Marty Byrde’s proxy asks: Are conference tournaments something that should be looked at being discontinued? It seems adding two more high quality out of conference games sprinkled in the schedule might be more entertaining.

A. I would love to see conference basketball tournaments eliminated. Honestly its not fair to the conference champion. They’ve proven themselves over two and a half month of games and suddenly they have to do it again? They could eliminate conference tournaments and have two more non conference games as you suggest. They could also add two more conference games. But I’d favor using that extra week to double the NCAA tournament from 64 to 128. That week only the higher seeded team would get to play at home and the revenue from those games would remain inside the conference to be distributed equally to each conference team. A few teams would still get left out but most of the drama would be gone and Joe Lunardi would have to find a new gig. The selection committee would mostly just be seeding the teams.

Q. WVHogfan says: The other day in a press conference players stated that there was a lot of communication among players on and off the field. This was especially true about Taylen Green. It was stated that this type of communication did not go on last season. Can you see a difference in the attitude among the players this year compared to last year?

A. What I’ve noticed is that the coaching staff is going out of its way to make sure we see this. Is it real? I think it is. But as I’ve said before, this is spring football. This leadership issue, especially as it applies to Jalen Green, we won’t know for sure until the season starts. There are lots of encouraging signs but it’s way too early to come to any conclusions.

Q. RazorAlex88 says: To hear the comments Luke Hasz had to say about Taylen Green the lesson here is: treat your blocking staff well and they’ll fight their hardest to keep you standing in the backfield.

A. That is a no brainer. What quarterback wants a bad relationship with his offensive linemen? That would be like a celebrity getting on the bad side of a body guard. People that protect you need to be able to respect you.

Q. Pigsfeat says: During the past season, the football and basketball teams have suffered (seemingly) from internal strife. What can coaches do while this is happening and to keep it from happening again in the future?

A. We’ve discussed the football issue. I think it’s a totally different problem with basketball. As I understand it, it has to do with Eric Musselman’s very intense style of coaching coupled with the fact that if you don’t deliver the goods in practice you will sit come game time. There were some players on this team that had never dealt with it before and they didn’t handle it well. I guess it affected some of the other players.

So what the answer? Muss needs to be a lot more careful with who he brings in from now on.

Q. EddyLynn wants to know: How come the fans didn’t get to see that first football scrimmage last week? I thought Pittman was going to open it up to the public.

A. That was a Thursday scrimmage at 8:30 in the morning. The scrimmages he’s talking about will be on Saturdays, probably around noon, so fans will have the opportunity to go without missing work. The players are on spring break this week. The first scrimmage open to the public will be a week from this Saturday.

Q. Kansas Hog asks: Glad that Pittman kept his word to tackle this spring? How did it go? Tackling usually changes things.

A. One of the things live tackling does, especially in an 11 on 11 scrimmage, is let us get a better look at pass blocking and run blocking. Poor blocking was the nasty surprise surprise we all got when the season started last September. In Thursday’s scrimmage the pass blocking was good. Taylen Green in particular had plenty of time to throw. In the early part of the scrimmage the run blocking wasn’t good but it did get better as the scrimmage progressed.

So what stood out? Nice TD passes by both Green and Jacolby Criswell. Looks like Criswell is making a bid to at least remain the No. 2 QB. At receiver Isaiah Sategna and Davion Dozier both looked really good. But of course this is just one scrimmage and two thirds of spring ball still remains.

Q. sgliles is mad. She wants to know: What’s up with all these idiots ripping Nick Saban for his NIL comments? I thought he was dead on. I think we have a bunch of Bama haters who are hoping their schools will start buying the best players.

A. That’s exactly what it is. Those fans and those schools are brain dead. They can’t see what Saban can see. A big chunk of college football and basketball fans are going to turn away from college sports if controls are not put on NIL and the transfer portal. As I’ve said before, the NFL and NBA have these controls. A draft and salary caps. Right now college sports don’t have either.

The answer is already being talked about. NIL collectives where all scholarship athletes, no matter the sport, get the same amount of NIL money. To get this guarantee, athletes will have to sign contracts and those contracts will keep them from jumping school to school and going to the highest bidder. I do think individual NIL deals will be allowed but only after an athlete signs with a school.

Q. mousetown is back with a surprising admission. He says: Looks like I was wrong about baseball. Their pitching is outstanding and their hitting is coming around Especially home runs. Eight of them last week.

A. Oh no. Is mousetown is gonna jinx the baseball team? He’s not wrong but when mousetown is right does he actually end up being wrong? Geez. I hope not.

Q. Finally we had a question about Mike’s high school back in Texas. Marjorie Gerik asked: Curious where you went to high school? Wasn’t it in Texas?

I sent a message back to her: Morton, Texas high school and she responded: OMG! Tell him my husband is from Pep, but finished high school in Whiteface when the Pep schools closed down. Small world!

A. I know one man from Pep: Layfayette Demel. I talked to him a few years ago on a dirt road just across the county line from Pep. My buddy and I were going out to take a look at Silver Lake. It’s the only standing body of water in Cochran county where I was born. In 1519 Spanish explorer Francisco Coronado and his men camped there on their way to Arkansas. One of the conquistadores lost his helmet and it stayed there for 500 years until Demel found it and donated it to the Cochran Country Museum.

What does this have to do with the Razorbacks? When they got to Arkansas, Coronado’s men saw feral hogs with sharp ridges of hair on their backs so they named them Razorbacks. That name stuck. BTW, I’ve been told that true Razorback hogs no longer exist. Supposedly they were hunted into extinction by farmers and hunters in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

(Last updated: 2024-03-18 18:09 PM)