Ask Mike: Rocket is Rocket Again, Why did Pitt Turn Off the Juice? & Will Gus Steal Malachi?

By Mike Irwin
on 2022-11-21 20:02 PM

Q. Our first question is from Wynell Windom who wants to know: Do you think the Internet complainers finally get it? Do they understand that our coaches didn’t suddenly become dummies in the offseason? Change one missed Cam Little field goal and if KJ doesn’t get hurt, this team is 9-2. That’s the difference, not bad coaching.

A. Some still think it’s coaching and you’re not going to change their minds. But you are correct. As I said last week, when you lose, every mistake they think the coach made is posted and examined. When you win that stuff evaporates. I think it’s interesting that both times KJ has sat out a game, his return game was his best of the season. That’s something Sam Pittman should consider in the off season. Trying to bring in a quality quarterback through the portal with the idea that he will play some in most games. Provide some relief for Jefferson. The fewer hits he takes the more likely he is to avoid getting beat up. But it would take a really good quarterback. I don’t know if they can find somebody like that.

Q. Billy Freeman asks: Can you explain to me how there was no blocking the last two games, that Rocket ran for 106 yards combined against Liberty and LSU but had 232 yards against Ole Miss? It was like somebody hypnotized him and then unhypnotized him.

A. Yes, the O-line problems against Liberty and LSU were not totally on the O-line. Without Jefferson the play calling became predictable. There was no passing threat and really not much a a running threat from the quarterback. You could see in the early part of the Ole Miss game, their defense was loaded to stop the run. Once KJ hit a couple of passes and broke off a long run himself, suddenly Rocket was Rocket again.

Q. HogHillbilly says: Thankfully we scored 42 early. After Rocket scored to start the 3rd quarter, this was a completely different 2nd half. Why did Pittman let off the throttle so early ? That could’ve been a disaster !!! South Carolina put up 63 on Tennessee and didn’t let off the throttle.

A. This is an interesting question. I don’t think I’ve ever had one that starts off….”Thankfully we we scored 42 early.” If you score 42 points early what’s the issue?

Unless something really crazy happens you’re gonna win.

Then there is this: “After Rocket scored to start the 3rd quarter, this was a completely different 2nd half.”

Of course it was. The game was over. Did you want Arkansas to try to score 50? 60? To what end? So next year you have to go to Oxford and have a monster target on your chest for running up the score?

Here’s more: “That could have been a disaster?”

How? Arkansas completely shut its offense down. Got out scored 21-0 in the 4th quarter and still won by 15.

Why did Pittman let off the throttle? He said it after the game. “I may have shut it down a little early but but as I look up at the scoreboard we have more points that they do. That’s all that matters to me.” This is your head coach. He’s been that way since he became a head coach. He is not interested in blowouts.

As for South Carolina-Tennessee, that was a different deal. It was a 35-31 game midway through the 3rd quarter. Arkansas was up 42-6 at that point in the Ole Miss game. I think South Carolina kept scoring on Tennessee because they wanted to make sure the Vols could not come back. That was never a factor in the 4th quarter of the Arkansas-Ole Miss game.

Q. Bacons Rebellion says: I was truly pleased with the defense against Ole Miss but it’s ironic and comical that we gave up 703 yards. North Carolina State beat Virginia in 1944 with 10 total yards of offense. Could we have set an obscure record for most yards given up in a win?

A. Well you just gave me a piece of trivia that I didn’t know about. To win a game with 10 yards of total offense you have to score points off your defense right? A safety, pick six or fumble recovery in the end zone.

I’m glad I didn’t have to watch a game with 10 yards of total offense. These days the TV networks would be freaking out.

I have no idea if Arkansas set a record for yards given up in a win but if somebody wants to research that, send it to me and we’ll talk about it.

Q. mousetown wants to know: Why didn’t they kick the Ole Miss player who took a swing at Jefferson out of the game? Seems to me that a personal foul penalty wasn’t nearly enough. I thought it was outrageous.

A. If you watched the replays on TV you could see where the kid could have been trying to knock the ball out of KJ’s hand by punching it. If so it backfired on him because it looked like he was swinging at KJ. Maybe the refs allowed for the fact that he could have been trying to punch the ball instead of KJ and that’s why they didn’t kick him out of the game.

Q. BloodRedHog asks: What do you believe our record would be if KJ had been healthy all year?

A. What’s already been suggested, 9-2 or maybe 8-3. The defense was struggling with injuries against Mississippi State. It’s possible that Arkansas might not have been able to outscore them even with a healthy KJ. Alabama, the same thing. A&M? That was a fluke. Crazy things happened. KJ had 171 yards passing in that game and 101 yards rushing. Threw two touchdown passes, ran for another one. He was fine physically.

Q: s-giles asks: Did they catch the Arkansas fan who stole the Ole Miss players’ helmet after the game? I hope so. That makes us all look bad.

A. As of Monday they still had not identified the young man. Some are suggesting that it could have been an Ole Miss fan.

Sam Pittman said this about it: “It’s unfortunate. I hope they get it back. We’d be madder than mad if somebody stole ours. Our fans are better than that. We average 73 thousand. It takes one to screw it up. “

We do know that UAPD is very interested in getting that helmet back to the Ole Miss football program. If you know anything about it, contact them.

Q . Hog in Iowa says: We know the head coaches from each school send videos of bad calls to the SEC home office every week, but nothing seems to come from it. I envision the SEC head of officials sitting around a table having a good laugh.

A. Sometimes I think that way but there have been cases where crews have been suspended. I seriously doubt that anybody in the SEC office laughs about feedback from coaches. If that got out it could be really bad. I think over time the officiating evens out. Arkansas definitely got some breaks in the Ole Miss game and their fans are on the warpath about it.

Q. Havok wants to know: Will the FB staff put pressure on those who haven’t appeared to move up depth chart to move on? With the only rule being the 85 scholarship limit, we should really use opportunity to replace/upgrade depth as much as possible with transfers.

A. Sam Pittman, in so many words, has said that. With no limit on the number of portal transfers coming in other that the normal 85 scholarship limit, he’s going to make heavy use of the portal even though he’d prefer not to. The thing about the portal, if you do it right, it provides instant fixes. No better example of that than Drew Sanders or Matt Landers.

Sam suggested that if he didn’t use it, Arkansas would get left in the dust by coaches who do.

Q. hobhog asks: Why doesn’t the media have access to OC Briles and DC Odom? Is this common around the league? Do they both prefer it that way?

A. The way each head coach handles the media is always a little different. I’ve covered nine different head coaches here and there were always some changes. Sometimes big changes, other times not so much.

Pittman has said that a lot of what he does as a head coach is based on his time working for Kirby Smart at Georgia. Smart did not put his coordinators in front of the media. Pittman has not explained the reasoning for that but I’m guessing that Smart wants questions about decisions with regard to offense and defense to fall on his shoulders, not the coordinators.

Also, this policy eliminates the possibility of a coordinator having one explanation for an issue during a game and the head coach another.

Q.Tiredofhogssucking wants to know: If the Hogs can get bowl eligible to a lower tier bowl, what should be the focus during the extra practices? Build depth for next year by working some younger players into the game plan or just win the bowl game at all costs to provide momentum going into next year?

A. Winning is the top goal. They’re not going to put a player in the bowl game unless they’re pretty sure he can help. Now if the game gets out of hand then yes, you might see
some players on the field to get them experience for next season.

Q. RazorAlex88 says: It looks like Gus is trying to steal away Malachi Singleton from us. It’s hard to believe a university that will soon be going to Big 12 would be more attractive than playing in the SEC. We REALLY cannot lose Malachi to Gus! What are the options if this were to happen?

A. Our own Otis Kirk, who is the most experienced football recruiting expert in the Hog media, says relax. Apparently Singleton’s mom posted some photos on the Internet last week of her buying some Razorback gear. Otis also says he hopes to have Singleton himself on next Sunday’s Pig Trail football recruiting report.

As Otis told me, the kid would not do that if he were going to Central Florida.

As for a QB out of the portal, as I’ve said, I think they are looking at a portal QB who can play right away. They don’t want a repeat of the situation that exists with the backup QBs right now.

Q.lakecityhog wants to know: What are the chances of the following guys returning next year:
KJ Jefferson
Zach Williams
Luke Jones
Drew Sanders

A. I think Jefferson, Zach Williams and Luke Jones are coming back. Drew Sanders is gone. He’ll go early in next year’s draft.

Q. pghawg1 asks: Why did HY schedule Notre Dame, Okie State, Utah with our always tough conference? Doesn’t seem the other conference schools do this on a yearly basis. I know next year the non conference schedule is some better but we seem to do it almost yearly.

A. The Notre Dame thing goes back to Jeff Long. As for how Yurachek does this, I think he wants better nonconference teams to keep the stadium filled and I think Pittman is okay with that. We might as well get used to it because when the new governing body for the top level of college football takes over supposedly rent-a-win opponents are going away.

Q. Hogbauski says: Your mentioning this past week looking for a backup QB in the portal got me to wondering: “Have we had any updates on the recovery and development of Kade Renfro?”

A. No updates but two knee surgeries in two seasons does not sound promising. There have been athletes who came back from two surgeries but I think we’ll have to get to next spring before we know anything on Renfro.

Q. Smalltownhog95 asks: Does this basketball team give you any Phi Slama Jama vibes? More talent and athleticism than you could shake a stick at that doesn’t really shoot the 3 well. But who really needs a bunch of three pointers when dunking the ball is a much higher percentage shot.

A. There are some signs that this bunch may be better at shooting the three than we think. They shot 40% from three point range against North Dakota State and 38 % against Rogers State and that was with Nick Smith Jr. not playing. So I would not assume this team can’t shoot the three until we get further into the season.

Q. Darren DeLoach says: When I was 9 my dad took me to the old Mid-South Coliseum to see the Hogs thump a pretty good Memphis State team. What basketball programs you would like to see scheduled regularly. For me, it’s Memphis, Texas, Kansas, and Houston.

A. I can’t argue with that group. Those are all attractive games for Razorback fans. Muss has played Oklahoma. That’s a good December game. Especially since they’re coming into the SEC in 2025. Oklahoma State is another attractive matchup. Texas Tech has a good program. The main thing is to upgrade the non conference schedule now that the program is top 10 in recruiting. Home and home games in December would be good. Memphis should be at the top of the list.

Q. Marty Byrde’s proxy asks: With this basketball team traveling to Hawaii currently, what are some memorable trips from past seasons? It seems Eddie’s team went to Alaska in 1980. Any games or events stand out on this or other tournaments?

A. Personal memories, I have none because I didn’t go to any of them.

But here are the facts: Arkansas’ first trip to Hawaii was in 1977. No tournament. They played Hawaii twice and won both games.

In ’83 Sutton took his Hogs to the Rainbow Classic where they beat Iowa St. but lost to Georgia Tech and Iowa.

In ’86 Nolan made his first trip to Hawaii. Arkansas beat Ohio State, lost to Pitt and beat Cal.

In ’91 Arkansas went back, this time to the Maui Invitational. They beat Minnesota and Chaminade but lost to Michigan.

Arkansas best trip to Hawaii came in 94. This was Nolan’s national runner up team in 95. In the rainbow Classic the Hogs took out Oklahoma, Cincinnati and Iowa.

Nolan’s last trip to Hawaii was to the Big Island with a win over Mercer, a loss to Iowa State and a win over Santa Clara.

In 2005 Stan Heath made his only trip there. Arkansas was back in the Maui Classic. not a good trip with a loss to Cal, a win over Minnesota and a loss to Gonzaga.

And in 2013 Mike Anderson took his guys to what was called the EA Sports Maui Classic. They lost to Cal, Beat Minnesota and lost to Gonzaga.

So that’s eight trips. One tournament title. That by one of Nolan’s best teams.

Q. LostinSwine wants to know: What did you think of the presentation of the announcers on the field in the Arkansas-Ole Miss game by the SEC Network?

A. I’m probably not the right guy to ask about this. I’m so old school, I turn the sound down when I’m watching a game at home because all I care about is the game. I’m not interesting in what the announcers saying. Saturday night it was especially bad because in a blowout those guys just take over the game.

On the field they were talking to players and referees. At one point, one of them was right behind Barry Odom revealing the defensive instructions he was calling out.

Come on.

Here’s what I would like. When you watch games on a streaming service at home like I do, give us a second option of watching the game with surround sound crowd audio only. You can bring up the announcers if there’s some controversy on the field but after you figure it out you can go back to crowd sounds only.

But that’s just me.

(Last updated: 2022-11-21 20:02 PM)