Ask Mike: O-Line Issues, KJ in Enos’ Offense & Is Pittman Bielema 2.0?
on 2023-09-18 17:39 PM
Q. Our first question is from runninrazorback who wants to know: What’s wrong with the offensive line? They are simply failing to get it done at so many levels.
A. Except for the penalties they did a decent job on Saturday. Arkansas had over 420 yards of total offense, 177 in the ground. But of course you can’t ignore the penalties. Somebody made the point that some of these guys were recruited to play in an RPO offense and that’s not what Dan Enos is running. I also think the play calling isn’t doing these guys any favors. Teams are stacking the box against Arkansas O-Line and Enos is sending the backs right into the middle of things. He’s calling too many short passes on the edges, again, playing right into what the defense wants. About all you can do as a fan is hope this situation starts to get corrected.
And remember, not all of the problems were seeing are on the O-line.
Q. Razorboo says: I am tired of hearing that the O-line is getting out musseled. We brought in a new strength coach to eliminate this issue. What has to change for this not to be an issue going forward?
A. Sam Pittman says bad footwork and poor technique are causing some of these issues, not a lack of being strong. It makes no sense that the D-line would get bigger and stronger and not the O-line. Again, how do you correct the technique issues? That’s the issue moving forward.
Q. Mousetown says: I know Arkansas is not the only team that does this but it’s crazy to go for 4th and 1 from the shotgun. I thought we were going to have an under the center package for KJ. He’s a beast. It makes no sense not to let him do the 4th and 1 push.
A. We could have a coaching debate on that and points would be made for either approach. However it seems logical that when you have Jefferson as your QB you want him under center with the ball on 4th and short.
That being said the real problem was going for it. You’re up by 10 points. You have an O-line that has trouble getting a forward push. Punt the ball. Try to down in inside the 10. Make the other guys go 90 yards to score not 50.
Q. William Smith wants to know: Are we all overlooking the fact that this is a new offense and the players are still getting used to it?
A. If you can drop the anger that a lot fans have right now, yes, you could make that point. There are a bunch of offensive starters that were recruited to run an RPO offense and what they’re doing now is very different. It takes time to learn. To me the change is affecting KJ Jefferson as much as anybody. He looks out of sync at times. But the defense is different too and they don’t seem to be having trouble adapting. They look better this season.
Q. Eddy Lynn says: Our fans need to come up for air and see what’s happening all over the SEC. Teams are getting beat. Their fans freak out. Season is over. They bounce back the next week. It’s a new season every week.
A. That’s a good point if it turns out that Arkansas bounces back this week. Is it realistic to expect this team to suddenly get its offense going without penalties and surprise LSU? No it’s not. But it’s not like it can’t happen.
It has been a crazy beginning. LSU was down. Now LSU is back up. South Carolina was down, then took Georgia late into the game on Saturday. A&M was up. A&M was down. A&M is back up again. Missouri looked bad two weeks ago. Bounced back last Saturday. Hopefully all of this applies to the Razorbacks.
Q. WVHogfan says: It felt like we were back in the old Southwest Conference with some of the mysterious calls that were made by the officials. Specifically, the offensive pass interference, roughing the passer, and the unsportsmanlike after the fumble recovery.
A. It was bad. Arkansas got hosed on all of those calls and yes they were momentum changers. Guess what? You can’t do anything about it. It’s the way things go. You have to be good enough to overcome those bad calls. If not, you lose.
Q. Really-Really-Mad wants to know: How come you media guys didn’t know this was gonna happen? All we got last month was fluff pieces. The season starts and there are all these issues you didn’t tell us about.
A. Well let’s see. The biggest issue on Saturday was penalties. I think we all can pretty much agree on that. Guess what, the media was all over the penalties that Sam Pittman mentioned in each of the two August Camp scrimmages. So, you were warned. How could we warn you to that the O-line was gonna have blocking issues? We didn’t see those scrimmages. We saw no live tackling in the preseason period at all. If the coaches don’t talk about it we don’t know about it.
Q. DWR has a long list of complaints:
We were told this was the most talented roster Sam has had.
We were told the coaching changes were an upgrade.
We were told the DL was mature and deep and would put pressure on QB’s….
….We were told KJ was significantly better this year.
We were told the OL was young but would be OK.
We were told the secondary was much improved…..
The secondary is somewhat improved, but have not seen any evidence in the other things mentioned to be true.
What happened? Will we be 0 and 8 in SEC games?
A. Well different reporters and different media outlets said different things. We were not lockstep. I’ll take these point by point.
I think it is the most talented roster he’s had. But a lot of that talent is not being used to it’s full potential. Specifically, Luke Hasz, the freshman tight end needs to be targeted more. Andrew Armstrong and Isaac Te’ Slaa are also capable of more then we’ve seen. The most under used guy on the offense has to be Isaiah Sategna. He needs to be into the rotation at receiver a lot. Send him deep. With his speed he’s gonna take a cornerback and safety with him or he’s gonna be wide open for a touchdown. Either way the offense wins. I would say right now the O-line has regressed a bit in terms of experience. Couple that with learning a new offense and you see the issues involved.
They need to adjust the play calling. Run it less throw it more, especially on first and second down and I think the talent will be obvious.
3. I think there was an upgrade in coaching on the defensive side. I think the defense will continue to improve. Remember, those guys are playing in a system. Also Sam Pittman need to turn Travis Williams loose to blitz more. That’s his thing. Let him do it.
The coaching change on the offensive side has created a bigger adjustment. It may take longer for the results to show and fans don’t have patience for that. Fortunately Hunter Yurachek does. I don’t think he’s going to be demanding Dan Enos’ head after one season.
The D-line is better especially at stopping the run. Again to improve the pass rush I think they’re gonna need some help. That’s where a more aggressive blitz package needs to be implemented.
I think most of us in the media were very careful to to make any, KJ is gonna be better claims. I l know I was. All the way back to last spring I talked about how this was a new offense with a new coach and different demands on him. More passing. Less running. I would not be surprised if we don’t see more of the RPO stuff we saw last year. Give him more freedom to improvise.
I can’t say that somebody in the media didn’t indicate this but most did not. We didn’t know. I mentioned it a lot. If we don’t see live tackling in a practice, if we don’t see the scrimmages there’s no way to judge the O-line.
We agree on number 6. I do believe the secondary is much improved. The number of picks so far indicates that. The gave up a little over 200 yards passing to BYU. That’s not bad. The issue was field position. Team open up their passing game a lot more when they are in your territory.
I don’t agree with every point you made but I get where you’re coming from. Clearly there are issues that have surfaced once the season started.
No, Arkansas will not go 0-8 in the SEC.
Q. Swine American asks: Should Coach Pittman intervene and start coaching the offensive line? His assistant is not getting it done. What are your thoughts?
A. Full time? No. I saw Joe Kines try to be the defensive coordinator and head coach the year he was the interim coach. It was a bad idea. Should Pittman get more involved in the O-line in practice? I think he will.
Q. my3boneheads asks: What are your thoughts on how football in general protects quarterbacks? Is it too much? Also should the rule be changed to a loss of down on the BYU fake field goal?
A. I think the NFL has gone too far in rules changes to protect the QB. The college game is fine. The problem is interpretation of the existing rules. The roughing the passer call against Arkansas was bogus. Nothing that happened on that play by Antonio Grier even came close to roughing the passer. Maybe the answer is, in non conference games get a crew from a conference not involved. Maybe a Big 10 or ACC crew for that BYU game.
Q.Marty Byrde’s proxy asks: Is this turning into Bret 2.0? I hope not but…dang it.
A. Too soon to say that but I hope not. There were some internal issues with Bielema’s staff that Pittman doesn’t have. Personally I’d take Pittman over Bielema any day of the week but things aren’t looking good for him right now. Hopefully he’ll get this turned around.
Q. Alabamahog wants to know: Is there something going on internally with the team? After three weeks, there seems to be a lack of Mojo, identity and maybe on the field leadership.
A. I know of no issues inside the team right now that would explain the the two big momentum shifts for BYU but it is true that there doesn’t seem to be a Grant Morgan type player on the roster right now. It’s on Pitman to find some guys like that.
Q. Hogdogger says: SEC teams this year seem to be a little off with winning against lesser talented teams. Do you think the changes in game clock has something to do with that? I can’t say I’m a fan of the new rule. It’s just more time on commercials and less about the game
A. It might be having an effect. Fewer plays means fewer opportunities to bounce back. Pretty sure the Hogs would have loved to have had more clock time on that last drive. As far as why they did it, they have to make the TV people happy. They’re paying for this. There is an answer for this. Ask for less from the Network people and spend a little less. Don’t build new facilities constantly or update them when they don’t need it. Pay your head coach $3 million a year instead of $5 million. But as long as we continue with this arms race stuff in college football conferences will need more and more money. TV revenues are a big part of that.
Q. RazorAlex88 says: This is one of those times it is best to take a step back and put things in the proper perspective. We tend to take football (or any sport) very seriously. It is good and all to be passionate…..
……..but we must be careful letting game results dictate whether we are having a good day or bad day. This loss was a real bitter pill to swallow but I am determined to not let this loss steal my joy.
Q. Outstanding. More fans should do this. But a lot of ’em won’t. Especially those who are active on social media. I really think that demanding the head’ coaches job and blasting him for being the wrong guy when he was hired makes some of these people feel better. But it’s not going to get Sam Pittman fired. I’ve said this: If it comes to that he will resign. But we’re not there yet. Not even close.
Q. Pigsfeat says: Saw photo of KJ signing autographs after the game. He had to have been hurting inside but still a class act!
A. I agree. he’s always been a class act. I think he’s gonna bounce back on the field too.
Q. Hogginintheville says: First , you had beautiful words about Sean, he was a great man! Though, It seems to me Enos is trying to KJ into a QB to fit his system instead of creating a system that works for his strengths.
A. Sean is Sean Ward who died suddenly last week. He worked for me years ago as a college intern. He was a photographer with the intincts of a reporter. I really, really respected him and was saddened by his death. Thank you for mentioning him.
In retrospect maybe Sam Pittman could have looked for an OC that does a lot of what Kendal Briles believes in. A lot of RPO stuff. KJ free to improvise. But I can also see where they thought, hey he will adjust. There is some indication from Pittman that they are going to adjust KJ’s role some anyway. Maybe let him be KJ more.
(Last updated: 2023-09-18 17:39 PM)