Ask Mike: Penalties Doom the Hogs Again, A Big Step Forward By the Offense & Why didn’t Sam Try to Get the Ball Back?

By Mike Irwin
on 2023-09-25 20:32 PM

Q. Our first question is from Dr. Starcs who says: Pittman has mentioned needing to fix the penalty issue after several games dating back to last year. Can someone with access ask what he does specifically to try and fix them….

…. Is it talking about them? Film study on them? Conditioning or some other form of physical consequence for them.

A. Against BYU holding was the big issue. So they worked on that in practrice and the number of holding penalties went down by a lot. The issue against LSU was false starts. They worked on that in practice all last week. Turning the speaker up in the Walker Indoor. Having the linemen get the snap count correct under noisy conditions. But there no way to accurately simulate in front of 95 thousand fans. You can’t hear. All you can do is go on movement. The tight ends are far enopugh on the edge that they can turn their heads and look for the snap but the interior guys can’t. Add to that LSU’s down linemen doing hard shifts left or right. You see that movement and you can get suckered by it.

Obvuously the coaches need to continue to work on these issues. Sam Pittman has been talking about it since August Camp. I’m guessing but I think we’ll see the penalties drop this week in Jerryworld.

Q. The_Bionic_Pig says: Texas A&M rush defense is ELITE!! I believe no team has cracked 100yds rushing in 4 games. Do you believe Arkansas can win as a 1 dimensional offense?

A. Actually two teams have, including Auburn who had 138 yards against them on the ground. The Aggie defense is giving up 109 yards a game on the ground. LSU is close to that with 130 yards per game. Arkansas had 137 rushing against the Aggies but it was what they did with those yards that was encouraging to me. The Hogs had 9 first downs by rushing but here’s the stat that jumped out at me. Arkansas punted just one time in that game. The offense sustained long ball control drives over and over.

As far as throwing the ball on the Aggies and being one dimensional, well they held Miami to 77 yard rushing and got beat 48-33 because the Hurricanes threw for almost 400 yards on them for 5 touchdowns.

After watching Arkansas match LSU TD drive for TD drive in the second half I’m confrident that they can move the ball on the Aggies.

Q. Sgiles wants to know: Does it bother you that so many Arkansas fans are unwilling to acknowlege the offensive improvement from the first three games? I was encouraged by KJ & the receivers. The Oline & the play calling. They took a big step forward.

A. It doesn’t bother me because as I’ve said so many times social media is a free speech outlet as it should be. There are some fans who are always going to exaggerate to make things worst that they are, or maybe fail to acknowledge any positives. I think that stuff helped motiviate the players this week. But there was some pushback from them after the game. You can sense that they’re getting frustrated by the negativity. KJ in particular went off on them on Twitter after he game. As long as that channeled in the right way it’s okay. The players and coaches can’t let that be anything more than background noise.

Q. PigDaddyKane points out: Against BYU the number of penalties seemed to greatly increase in the 4th quarter. The same against LSU. Is it fatigue causing the increase at the end of the game?

A. You have to look at the kind of penalties and the circumstances. Several of the holding penalties against BU came on that last desperation drive with the clock running out. BYU knew Arkansas had to throw. They were coming with heavy pressure on every play. On that drive I think some of the O-linemen saw holding as the only way to keep KJ Jefferson from getting sacked and they were hoping to get away with some of it.

As I’ve said, against LSU the late penalties were false starts caused by the noise on the field and the sudden shifting by lSU D-Linemen. Tight Ends like Luke Hasz could not hear the snap count. So they were going on movements. It’s very easy to see movement in your periphrial vision and confuse it with your own O-line moving.

Q. Josh Rugger says: Just gotta say…it’s wild to me how a few Hog fans act like we just played two bad teams over the last couple of weeks and lost. We will not play a better team than LSU the rest of this season. #WPS

A. Josh is one of our weather experts here at KNWA. He also does the forecasts on our gameday show. He put that on Twitter and I responded. I agree with him. It’ll take more games to know for sure but I think LSU is the best team in the SEC West this season.

Q. Chad Uhrig says: The same old Talking Heads are starting to mix up the Kool-Aid again already in Arkansas!

A.This was a tweet in response to my response to Josh. My job is to avoid mixing up kool aid but it’s also my job to avoid serving up poison. I try to stay balanced. I didn’t post that to blow smoke. At this point, based on watching most SEC games so far, LSU is the best in the West.

Q. Tweeter says: D line is not very good. All the hype they got before the season and after 4 games they cannot generate a pass rush. No edge rusher at all.

A. That’s just a bad take. The pass rush has been fine until the second half of the LSU game. LSU has an outstanding QB who made his reads quickly and got rid of the ball accurately. The pass blocking by their linemen ands their running backs was like watching a clinic. I think Arkansas will look much better against A&M this week. The Aggies have an okay offense but they’re not LSU.

Q. RebelliousHog with a lesson on criticism. He says: If someone keep whining, “This team sucks, the coach sucks, KJ sucks.”, THAT is bad mouthing. If someone points out that the Oline is playing less than optimal because of pre snap penalties, THAT is a critical comment. Being critical does not always equate being negative or “bad mouthing.”

A. It’s a shame that somebody has to point that out because it’s perfectly logical. But it is a lesson. A lesson on how to criticize but also a lesson that not all criticism is wrong. Because there are fans out there who think you should never be critical of the coaches or the players. To me if you want to make a point use examples of what you’re referring to. Don’t just call a coach fat and stupid or players lazy and uncoached.

Q. RazorAlex88 says: I was pretty impressed with Dubinion. Wish we could see more of Dominique Johnson. I am encouraged that the guys didn’t let go of the rope after last weekend and played a real good game against a really good LSU team.

We just may sneak a win over A&M or Ole Miss or both but I may be a little overly optimistic on that one.

A. Right now I think Enos and Pittman are just trying to find the best option at running back and it’s trial and error. Go with the guy who is getting first downs.
I agree on the remaining games except that I’m more optimistic than you are. The Kool Aid drinker in me think’s they might win all three IF they play like they did against LSU.

Q.BloodRedHog asks: Please tell me why with no timeouts and LSU on the 6-yard line and only 1:44 on the clock, Sam didn’t tell his defense to let LSU score – this was our only chance except for some miracle blocked FG. I’ve seen Bill Belichick and other top coaches do this when necessary.

A. I accept Sam Pittman’s explanation even though most on the Internet thought it was just excuse making. Basically he said he didn’t think LSU was going to try to score no matter what Arkansas’ defense did because once they got close to the red zone their best option was to run out the clock and kick the game winning field goal. So Pittman said Arkansas’ best option was to try to force a turnover, block the field goal or hope the kicker missed it.

This was backed up up by Brian Kelley who said after the game that he had no intension of giving the ball back to Arkansas. Why would he? he’d just watched Arkansas respond to every score LSU had in the second half. Neither team punted. So run he ran the clock because Arkansas was out of time outs and kicked the game winner from extra point distance with just a few seconds left.

Q. Twinky275 says: Damn proud of our Hogs. Played a great game. Got some stuff to still fix. Saw Sam in the O-line’s face. yes, again we shot ourselves in the foot with penalties- but the non calls that LSU was blatant about….

…..holding, horse caller, face mask – SHOVING KJ down after the play while he was getting back up – taunting our receiver down in his face after the tackle while he’s on the ground…..

…….the interception by LSU, it might of hit the ground, and the goal line catch that was ruled short. Something has to change with the zebras.

A. All valid points. It’s frustrating but I didn’t think this was close to the worst officiating I’ve seen. My standard line on officiating is just like players and coaches make mistakes, so do referees. I think that was what was going on in this game as opposed to the BYU game where clearly the Big 12 refs stuck it to Arkansas.

Q. Pigsfeat says: I thought that a player who loses his helmet must stop playing immediately or will be penalized. For player protection. Can you inform us? To make matters worse the player then shoved JK back to the ground! I know these officials aren’t blind.

Q. Those are two separate issues. On losing a helmet, the officials determined that the player in question was in the act of making a tackle and could not stop in mid movement. The move he made on JK after the tackle should have been a penalty.

Q. Oklahawg says: There was a time that head coaches got 5 years to install their system and cycle through the roster before being a candidate for firing. And, position coaches and coordinators got at least an entire year, if not more than one….

….What gives with some fans thinking that there is a cheat code for this like its a video game? I thought we made fine progress vs LSU. Thoughts?

A. Oklahawg is a moderator on Hogville and really knows his stuff. I wish he would ask more questions. I agree with this. If this team continue to play like it did against LSU this get rid of Pittman talk will go away.

(Last updated: 2023-09-25 20:32 PM)