Ask Mike: Should KJ Have Gone to the Manning Camp? An Update On EA Sports College Football, the 2023 Edition & Will Pittman Unleash Bully Ball This Season?

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Q. Our first question is from Arkie Redneck who asks: What did you think of Wallace and Paulette going mid second round of the draft? I thought they were projected late first or early second round.

A. It might cost them a little bit of money but I have to believe that Wallace is happy to be in the Royals minor league system and the Naturals have to be thrilled too with the prospect of Wallace playing in Springdale maybe sometime in the summer of 2023 or 2024.

Paulette seemed excited to be selected by the White Sox. No hint of disappointment in this tweet. He’ll get over a million dollars to sign. Not too bad.

Plus Robert Moore went late second round. Some were projecting him as late as 4th or 5th round. He’ll make a million bucks.

Q: Sgiles says: The media keeps saying that coach Musselman likes a seven or eight man rotation. This new roster has maybe 10 or 11 guys who are real difference makers. Are three or four of them going to end up sitting on the bench like Vanover, Jackson and KK Robinson did last year? Sounds like a waste of talent.

A. I would not assume anything at this point. The guys Muss has been sitting were not consistent enough to be a productive part of the rotation or in some cases they did not fit the game plan against certain opponents.

How many guys end up in the rotation this upcoming season, I think, will be on each individual player. If there is no drop off in their time on the floor I why wouldn’t Muss play them?

The game planning aspect however, will continue. This roster has gone from one player over 6-8 to four. Some games all four could play. For instance when going up against Kentucky and their great center Oscar Tshiebwe, Muss might double team him the whole game, rotating those four in groups of two.

This will play out in whatever way works best. That’s what going to Europe is all about. Early on, the coaches will feel the roster out and come up with the various rotations and how many players will be involved.

Q. hobhog says: KJ Jefferson decided not to attend the Manning Academy reportedly so he could stay in NWA and work out with his receivers. What kind of workouts within rules are allowed and do you think that was a good decision?

A. If it were the old days when coaches could have no contact with players in the summer months I’d say something like the Manning camp might be a good idea. But Kendal Briles is able to work with KJ on a limited basis this summer plus, since the receiving corps will have so many new components this season it’s very important that Jefferson get in as much work as possible with those guys. As far as I know the only restrictions on working out with no coaches involved is the normal 20 hour a week rule. So to answer your question, yes it was the right decision and I’m fairly certain that Briles made the call on that.

Q. Lanny says: Year three with Sam Pittman as the O Line coach under Bielema is when Arkansas began to dominate with the running game. I say the same thing happens in year three with Pitt as the head coach. What about you?

A. I don’t know about going run heavy because with KJ at QB and the receivers Arkansas has, I still think Kendal Briles is still going to argue for a strong passing game.

Here’s where we may see a big difference with the progression of the offensive line: More effective run plays on first down. Briles has said over and over the last two seasons that Arkansas needs to do a better job on first down. If you get 8 yards on first down and throw an incomplete pass on second down, third and two is a lot better than third and seven.

I do think Arkansas will go run heavy with a lead, especially in the second half. Pittman loves that stuff. He calls it “bully ball” because when you can put up a string of first downs on the ground, it burns clock time and puts a lot more pressure on the other team’s offense.

Q. HogT wants to know: What if if they took the top 64 teams split between the Big 10 and SEC, replicating the NFC and AFC? Break it into 4-8 team divisions. You could have a good conference schedule with no cupcakes. Win your division go to the playoffs for an 8 team playoff. Or top two teams if you want a 16 team playoff.

A. I assume you mean four, eight-team divisions in each of the two conferences. You’d need eight, eight-team divisions to come up with 64 teams but I do like the concept. Especially the playoff plan you mentioned if they avoided a selection committee. If you watch Ask Mike week to week you know that I am 100% opposed to the current system of letting a selection committee pick the playoff teams. I would go with the top 2 teams in each division automatically going into the playoff. That would give you sixteen teams.

However SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey has stated that a selection committee will likely continue to be used in order to insure that the top teams across the country make the playoffs.

Q: A Hog Fan In Austin asks: Do you think the Texas crybabies are going to get their way on penalties for flashing the “upside down hook ’em horns” sign when they move to the SEC ? The Big 12 caved on this issue. Has there been any word from the SEC office on this nonsense?

A. He caught a lot of grief for this but I thought the new Big 12 commissioner got it right at Big 12 media days. He basically said that it depends on how the upside down hook ’em horns sign is flashed. It boils down to taunting. If you’re an OU D-end and you sack Texas’ quarterback and you get up and walk back to your defensive huddle and you flash it to them, no problem. If you get up from that sack and flash it in the face of the quarterback you just sacked, that’s a penalty.

I think the SEC office will take the same approach.

Sam Pittman addressed this last year when it came up. He basically said, taunting opponents is not what his players do. So he will police the upside down hook ’em sign with his own players.

To me that’s the best explanation of how this issue should be handled.

Q. Mousetown wants to know: Is there any point to SEC Media Days? Seems like it’s just a lot of talk without much substance.

A. It all comes down to the questions asked. In Birmingham there are too many locals wearing media passes who are basically Alabama fans. A lot of them gum the thing up with weak or even silly questions. That problem largely goes away in Atlanta which is where it’s being held this week. So I expect better questions.

Media Days is typically the only time in the summer before August camp starts when we have a chance to find out how the summer workouts are progressing. I’m expecting some interesting stuff from Sam Pittman, KJ Jefferson, Jalen Catalon and Bumper Pool. The good news is, August Camp is less than three weeks away.

Q. teamOTIS says: It is too hot! Are any Arkansas sports programs affected by the heat and having to shorten practices or take any precautions during this time? Rain, rain please come back.

A. No. Strength and conditioning coaches fully understand the concept of heat exhaustion. They’re not going to let the men and women they’re supervising in the summer get into a dangerous situation. If it is oppressively hot, like 100 plus degrees, these athletes will be working indoors.

Q. About Otis Kirk’s feature story on Barry Odom’s son, Gary Odom, being offered a scholarship to Arkansas and five other schools as a sophomore-to-be receiver/quarterback at Shiloh Christian, Mark Turley says: Of course he has offers. His dad is Barry Odom.

A. That response was meant to be funny but actually one of those offers is from A&M. They would not have offered Gary Odom just because his dad is Arkansas’ defensive coordinator. The kid is just getting started. He has three more years left before college. Right now Shiloh plans to use him in the same way Arkansas is going to use Malik Hornsby, as a slot receiver who can also step in and run plays at Quarterback. According to Otis Kirk, Gary Odom has committed to Arkansas. There’s no way Sam Pittman offered him just because his dad is the defensive coordinator at Arkansas.

Q. Alex4Hogs88 says: I’m thinking about going to another college football game during our bye week on Oct. 22. What games on that weekend would be your top choices? That Ole Miss at LSU game sounds very tempting. Surely the experience in Death Valley won’t be too terrible as a neutral fan.

A. You should be fine if you don’t wear red and white and don’t drive a vehicle with Arkansas plates to the game. Also don’t get caught cheering for Ole Miss. Five SEC schools have open dates that weekend so there’s only five games played. The game you picked is indeed the most interesting of the five.

The game I want to see not involving Arkansas is on October 8th. A&M at Alabama. I won’t bother trying to see it in person but I will sure be glued to the TV when that one starts.

Q: Sharee Clayton says: Can’t wait for the return of an officially licensed NCAA college football game next summer. Is it true that if I pick Arkansas I will have the stats, images and jersey numbers of players like KJ Jefferson and Jalen Catalon? With my superior coaching I think I can win the SEC with the 2022 Hog roster.

A. That game is still under development. EA Sports is using CLC licensing to secure NIL agreements with various schools and players. Any school or player featured in the game must sign an NIL agreement. So far only one school has said no and that’s Notre Dame. Twelve others have not signed with CLC as of today. The names of schools already signed up have not been released so it may be a while before you can determine if your school or favorite players will be included.

Q. TL Slaten says: I see where Gary Blair is getting put into the Razorback Hall of Honor. I know he won a national championship at Texas A&M. What was his biggest accomplishment at Arkansas?

A. Most would say taking Arkansas to the 1998 Final Four. They were not ranked and went into the NCAA Tournament as a 9 seed. They beat Duke in the Elite Eight. Blair is still the only coach to reach the Final 4 at Arkansas but to me the thing he did best was to get fans to come to women’s games in big numbers. Before he came you could count the attendance at most women’s games in the hundreds. Before he left, Arkansas was pulling in five to seven thousand fans regularly for SEC games and set an attendance record for any women’s sport at Arkansas of 14,500 fans at a WNIT final in Bud Walton Arena.

Q. About last week’s complaint that Courtney waves her arms too much on the air….
Hogjowls2 has come to her defense. He says: Someone tell Courtney Mims to continue to wave her arms as much as she wants. She is good at what she does.

A. I’m sure she appreciates that but there was no problem. Courtney had fun with it. She has a great sense of humor and played along with some of my tongue in cheek suggestions as to how we might restrict her arm waving.


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