Ask Mike: Rants About Odom, Rants About Briles & Rants About Fountain

By Mike Irwin
on 2022-10-10 17:29 PM

fQ. Our first question is from BloodRedHog who says:
Tough loss. I think we can recruit our way out of the issues on defense.

However, I am concerned Briles and Pittman had all week to evaluate which QB would start and made the wrong decision. Malik has the escapability. Cade does not.

A. Well based on what we saw, Malik is also a better passer. Sam Pittman’s explanation for his decision to start Fortin was the based on what they did in practice. He and Briles decided to play both, going with Fortin to throw it mixed in with the the run game and bring Hornsby off the bench to use his running ability for a spark. He said Hornsby ended up performing better in the game than he did in practice so they quickly decided to stick with him.

None of us in the media saw the part of practices that Pittman referenced. We were surprised like most of the fans that Hornsby was suddenly the number two quarterback. In the absence of any addition information I guess the official explanation for what happened is that Hornsby is a gamer.

Whatever the answer is, it looks like there will be no question moving forward who is the number two QB.

Q. lamont7906 wants to know: Are the coaches going with loyalty over production? Players constantly not playing well but they refuse to give other players shots, its seems. Also did we whiff on Hornsby’s development? Seems like a gamer given the opportunity.

A. That’s what it looks like. There’s another theory floating around that Hornsby wasn’t happy with his lack of reps at slot receiver and the coaches didn’t like his body language at practice so they decided to move Fortin ahead of him to motivate him.

Whether that’s true or not, their decision put Arkansas in an early hole. If Hornsby had started and if he had not gotten his bell rung on his first series of downs off the bench, which temporarily sidelined him, would it have changed the outcome of the game? Who can say, but that doesn’t stop some fans from speculating that it would have.

Q. Ronnie Hamilton asks: Is KJ back this week? If so what does that mean for Hornsby?

A. Yes. Pittman said on Monday that Jefferson had been cleared to practice the entire week with no restrictions. Hornsby will continue as the number two quarterback.

Q. We have two questions about Barry Odom’s defensive game plan. mousetown says: I don’t get Barry Odom. How can he possibly hope to stop a passing offense like Mississippi State with a three man rush. Rogers had all day to throw. They never did get to him.


Q. Marty Byrde’s proxy asks: Did they really believe that the Pirate would succumb to the same defensive scheme three years in a row? Granted, it was worth a try, but shouldn’t we have had a alternate plan ready and enacted it after that first drive?

A. Barry Odom was between a rock and a hard place. With his three best defensive backs out, two more hurt early in the game and a secondary facing the best passing quarterback they’d seen, Odom could go with a lot of blitzes and try to get to Will Rogers and hope he didn’t burn them deep. Or he could drop extra players back into coverage and go with a three man rush to try to keep the ball in front of the secondary. Give up shorter passes. Honestly it’s a quick death vs. a slow death. I promise you either way there were going to be problems.

His strategy would have worked a lot better if Arkansas had come up with three potential interceptions which went off the hands of Razorback players, two in the end zone. I also believe that the Bulldogs success running the ball had a lot to do with poor tackling, not just Odom’s scheme.

Q. Slobberslob wants to know: Does special teams have a bullseye on their shoes? They keep shooting themselves there and not missing. I’m not questioning Briles or Odom but I’m starting to wonder about Fountain.

A. A.J Green running the ball out of the end zone after it got away from him and getting stopped at the one foot line killed all the halftime momentum Arkansas had. They’d scored 10 unanswered points. But instead of starting a drive from the 25, it started virtually on the goal line. Arkansas then went three and out and the Bulldogs got the ball on a short field and scored. Boom. Momentum gone. A huge mistake.

So do we get all over special teams coordinator Scott Fountain for that? Pittman said Fountain worked on that very scenario with Green in practice last week but Green just panicked.

How about finally making a change at punter after Max Fletcher’s first punt was a miserable 25 yards. Reid Bauer came on and had three punts after that for a 46.5 yard average. Bauer averaged 42 yards a punt last season but lost his job this season to a guy that has averaged 37 yards so far. That seems like and odd decision.

Eddy Lynn says: Tennessee is the hot turnaround team right now. 5-0 going into a clash of unbeatens with Alabama. Good for them but they just had a starting defensive back arrested for felony aggravated assault. Nobody talks much about it but Pittman seems to avoid stuff like this.

A. To me that’s not a coincidence. This staff checks out the personal behavior of players in recruiting. Avoids those who have a history of questionable behavior. You’re right, Sam doesn’t get a lot of mention about that but it’s a definite plus for him as a head coach.

Q. CowHog32 asks: Can you do a rundown on the Jalen Catalon injury? Was this injury a repeat of last year or something different? I heard he was having a complete reconstruction this time but not last year. Do we think he is done with playing football or does he want to try to give it one more go?

A. The actual details on injuries to student athletes is protected under federal law. The only way anyone, a coach or doctor can discuss the specifics of the surgery is with the athlete’s permission. We are told that the surgery was successful and he’s continuing his rehab. He’s with the team but there’s no word on his future plans.

Q. bmg44 wants to know: Was there serious interest from Barry Switzer to become head football coach at Arkansas?

A. No. Switzer enjoyed his time here as a player and a coach but once he was on the OU staff and once he took over as head coach there it was pretty clear that he viewed OU as a better job with a better recruiting base. Frank asked in ’83 after Lou was fired if Barry had an interest in the job and he was told no, Switzer wasn’t going to leave OU.

To this day, he’s more OU than Arkansas even in retirement. It was the same thing with Darrell Royal. He played as a Sooner but once he took over as the head coach at Texas Royal became a Longhorn for life.

Q. LostinSwine says: Pittman says every coach has to be able to recruit or he’s gone. Certainly his actions have shown that. But yet I never hear of any recruit having been recruited by either Odom or Briles. Am I wrong about that? Are they just the closers or do they also get out on the road?

A. Both of them hit the recruiting trail. Briles was key in landing Hornsby and a commitment in the current class from 4-star QB Malachi Singleton out of Georgia. He also brought in receiver Ketron Jackson.

Odom had a lot to do with the landing of Dwight McGlothren, transfer Landon Jackson and Jordan Dominick. Everybody recruits on Pittman’s staff.

Q. PatBoat says: No coach’s job should be on the line due to talent level in each group based on the star system. My opinion is, the groups that stand out have 3 plus 4 star players, like RB and WR. Our DB room needs 4 star caliber guys. What do you think?

I would agree that Arkansas is loaded at receiver and running back. But too many of Arkansas fans don’t realize how banged up that secondary is. The top three are out right now, two for the season. They are getting Myles Slusher back for the BYU game but also three of their younger guys are hurt right now.

I am hearing though that they they are bringing in some excellent secondary talent in the 2023 class.

Q. Razorboo says: 1 turnover in the last 4 games at 10:28 mark of the fourth quarter and that one was really a fluke tip in the Bama game. What is Odom going to do the last half the season with schemes to right his side of the ship.

A. Arkansas has been somewhat unlucky lately. They could have had some fumble recoveries against Bama but the ball kept bouncing right back to Tide players.
They also had three possible picks against Mississippi State that were off the hands of the defender, two in the end zone. Those are killers.

I have to believe that these guys are due some turnovers. Maybe there luck will start changing this week.

Q. parallaxpig asks: When are Mississippi State fans supposed to stop ringing their cowbells?

A. When the O-line lines up it’s supposed to stop. I’ve been there in the past and their fans do a good job of killing the cowbell noise well before the snap count starts.

Q. RazorAlex88 asks: Do you think the State fans did abide by that rule concerning their cowbells once the center is on the football? Sometimes early in the game it really sounded like when our QB dropped back I could hear those bells clanging during the play.

A. I haven’t heard any complains from the players or the coaches. Those fans are disciplined because they know if they violate the policy, the Cowbells go away.

Q. TimTeNO says: I try to keep things positive but amongst poor officiating and weird play calling, it’s tough this week. It really seems like SEC refs are conspiring with the SEC to keep the hogs down. What do you think about that conspiracy theory?

A. At various times the officiating has been bad enough that I sort of convinced myself that there was some bias on the part of some officials.

I actually think that’s rare. The truth is, just like players and coaches, game officials make mistakes. They miss things. So that’s my official position right now. But I might change my mind at any point. I’ve done it before.

Q. Lanny says: What’s your take on A&M-Bama. It should have been a blowout. Way too close. What happened?

A. People always say at a place like Alabama if they have an injury to a key player, Saban just puts another 5 star on the field and they go on about their business. I’ve seen that happen but as well as he played against Arkansas, Jalen Milroe was a problem against the Aggies. His passing was limited, 12 of 19 for 111 yards and while he did throw two TD passes he also threw a pick and fumbled twice. Those turnovers kept the Aggies in the game. He almost got them beat. But in spite of almost giving the game away, when it was on the line with 4 seconds left at the Alabama two yard line, the Aggies could not make the play to win it. That’s the difference between a team like Alabama and a team like A&M.

(Last updated: 2022-10-10 17:29 PM)