Ask Mike: Ticket Scanning Changes, Transfers Taking Over the Starting Lineup & Texas as a Permanent Rival
on 2023-08-28 20:27 PM
Q. Our first question is from mousetown who asks: Can you give us a scouting report on Western Carolina?
A. This is a team that went 6-5 last season. The only power five conference team the Catamounts played was Georgia Tech which went 4-4 in the ACC last season. Western Carolina lost to them 35-17.
They set a school record for passing last season averaging 301 yards per game but the QB that largely made that happen is gone along with their top receiver. They do have their top running back returning. Desmond Reid rushed for 869 yards last season as a freshman, averaging 7 yards a carry.
Just like Arkansas they had two August Camp scrimmages. In the second one Harvard transfer quarterback Charlie Dean, a 4th year junior, was 16-27 for 239 yards and two touchdowns. But their head coach said the defense clearly won that scrimmage. Based on what he said it looks like he’s hoping for a real improvement on the defensive side of the ball. Last year Mercer beat Western Carolina 49-6.
Q. Eddy Lynn wants to know: Do you see any surprises on the depth chart for game one? There’s a lot of new faces on the defensive side. I hope all these portal guys pan out.
A. There are three transfers listed first team on the D-Line. One from Pitt, one from Missouri and one from Louisiana Tech. Honestly there is so much depth there who starts almost seems like pick ’em to me.
Chis Paul is listed as an “or” at middle linebacker. I believe that’s because he’s been hurt. Jaheim Thomas could start there. He’s a transfer from Cincinnati. Looks really really good.
Three of the five spots in the secondary could end up going to transfers. Two from Baylor, one from Georgia.
All those new faces you refer to doesn’t surprise me. You have a new defensive coordinator and linebackers coach. A new defensive co coordinator and secondary coach. Travis Williams and Marcus Woodson were brought to change the defense so they’re doing it.
Q. Steve Thomas is mad. He says: The next time some yo-yo wants to complain about hiring Dan Enos you might remind them that Nick Saban is not in the habit of hiring slouches. Dan Enos was the QB and Asst. Head Coach at Alabama for the 2018 season and went 13-0 that year.
A. I think when you let Dan Enos run his offense he’s very good. Bret Bielema let him do his thing in 2015 and Arkansas went 8-5. The Hogs won the Liberty Bowl against Kanas State. Had big road wins at Tennessee and Ole Miss. 2016 was that season where Bielema dialed the offense back and sat on those halftime leads. Very frustrating. Arkansas slipped to 7-6. 2017 it really went south. That the year they went 4-8 with one SEC win. Got Bielema fired. To me that was on him, not Enos.
Sam Pittman knows what was going on back then. There’s a reason why he brought Enos back. I could be wrong about this. College football is unpredictable. But I think we’re about to see that Pittman knew what he was doing when he hired his two new coordinators.
Q. T.L. Slaten wants to know: Did Pittman’s gamble to be more physical in camp this season pay off? I noticed that he said last week that the team is pretty beat up.
A. We’ll have to see how much he got out of it. Remember, Arkansas started off last season with some obvious tackling problems that lasted pretty much the entire season. I can tell you that you have to go back years to see the kind of physicality we’ve seen in these practices and we didn’t see the scrimmages. I’m surprised that they reached this point with just one major injury. It is true that several players missed practices last week but Pittman says that he doesn’t expect any of them to miss the game. So if they get through this week with no more problems I’d say yes, the gamble paid off.
Q. Pigsfeat asks: With his expertise, does Coach Pittman work with the offensive line or does he allow his position coaches full control?
A. Very few coach allow assistants full control. Pittman reminds me of Frank Broyles. He moves around a lot on the practice field. He will step into what’s happening with a position group if he feel’s like he needs to. Usually he addresses a specific player. He does that more with the O-line than the other positions for obvious reasons. However you would have to sit in on his staff meetings to how just how involved he is in the various position rooms. Barry Odom once said to us in the media that Pittman was a really great guy to be around, very easy going, but don’t kid yourself. If he needs to make a point with a certain coach he has no trouble making himself understood.
Q. Hawgredneck asks: What’s the biggest change we’re about to see from last year?
A. The switch to four down linemen on defense is a big change. The depth in the D-line is impressive. It looks like there will be more pressure on opposing quarterbacks and more TFL plays.
On the other side of the ball the offense will change under new QBs coach Dan Enos. Supposedly K.J. Jefferson’s footwork is better. The goal is to have him run less and throw more. Complete more of the short and intermediate passes. I think will also see some two tight end formations. That will be a change. But I keep saying this and it’s based on what I’m seeing, I think what I call the “air raid” component to the offense could be a major change. The running back room is deep, deep, deep and using those guys on the edge as receivers with lots of blocking in front of them is really a running game that starts with a short pass to the edges.
Q. Edwardclutch wants to know: What the deal with the lack of air conditioning in the indoor practice facility? As hot as Arkansas summers tend to get shouldn’t this have been something that was put in when the thing was built?
A. If we go back to a time when the Walker Indoor Pavilion was built the general view of most coaches was that players needed to work out in the heat and humidity of August to get them ready for early September games.
But team trainers were warning them that this wasn’t necessarily a good idea. Medical research ended up showing that you can wear players down by constantly exposing them to that kind of heat. You can actually end up with the opposite effect. By the time the season starts you’re dealing with all kinds of muscle issues plus the energy level can be down.
The idea these days is to keep your players fresh and deal with the stress of a three hour game with proper hydration and the use of cooling fans which function as air conditioners in the team bench area.
So, from a medical standpoint, adding air conditioning to the Walker Indoor is a smart thing to do and it probably should have been done several years ago.
Q. South Carolina Hog asks: Did you attend the 1978 Orange Bowl and 2000 Cotton Bowl? Was it true that Coach Broyles was nervous as a spectator and would not watch the Razorback football games live during his tenure as Athletic Director?
…..I saw Coach Broyles on the field before the 2000 Cotton Bowls alongside Darrell Royal. Was Coach Broyles present for the 1978 Orange Bowl?
A. I was at both games. You’re right Broyles was at the 2000 Cotton Bowl but Rick Schaeffer, the long time Arkansas Sports Information Director, thinks that Frank missed the ’78 Orange Bowl because he was the color analyst for ABC on the Sugar Bowl broadcast that same day. Once he stepped down from that job along side Keith Jackson, Frank did start going to games. He did not miss games because he was nervous but he’d sometimes leave the stadium and go for walks when he’d get stressed out.
Q. Marty Byrde’s proxy asks: What’s the outlook for some of the Razorback sports that get less coverage in their upcoming seasons?
A. Soccer is ranked number 10 in the country. They already have wins over Arkansas State and Oregon. Sunday they traveled to # 12 Notre Dame. That match ended up in a 2-2 tie.
Volleyball is off to a great start. They’ve already knocked off Michigan State and Tulsa and have cracked the top 25. They play two big games at home against # 1 Wisconsin this week.
The Swim team does not start its fall season until the third week in September.
Q. Terry Marshall wants to know: What single event do you believe has had the most impact on college athletics and why?
A. I hesitate to call it an “event” but the Supreme Court decision on NIL is the biggest single thing to happen to college sports ever. We’ve talked about this over and over and I don’t want to get into the details again. However, just this past week Sam Pittman was talking about how he uses the transfer portal and he said if Arkansas contacts an athlete in the portal who makes it clear that all he’s interested in is how much NIL money he’s gonna get, Arkansas coaches back off immediately.
We’re not there yet but I feel like the day could be coming when how much money you’re offered is the deciding factor in recruiting. When that day happens the college game that so many fans know and love will be gone.
Another event that had a huge impact was Arkansas leaving the SWC. It took two years for that impact to become clear because Frank Broyles was so far ahead of the curve on trends in college athletics but that decision eventually led to the end of the SWC and the Big 8 when the two conferences merged to become the Big 12. Here we are almost 30 years later and the Pac 12 is about to go away. As I said last week this is a trend that I think will continue as more so called power 5 conference teams find themselves on the outside looking in.
Q. MTBrookHog asks: Do you think will have less “3 and outs” under Enos’ system than Briles’ system?
A. I do. I like what I see so far with the diversity of his offense. I think it’s going to be less predictable and I think Arkansas is going to have a more options on third down situations. Also, hopefully, fewer wide receiver reverse passes that backfire.
Q. Hogdogger says: I don’t understand the so called rivalry game with Missouri. Now that Texas is in the same conference, based on the U of A’s history with the Longhorn rivalry do you think SEC will take a look at maybe promoting a Texas/Arkansas shootout.
A. I don’t think the SEC has to promote it. Arkansas plays Texas next year and no matter what they decide for 2025 and beyond Arkansas will play Texas at least every other year and depending on how they do permanent opponents, we might have and Arkansas Texas game every year. I maintain that Arkansas has not has an equal to the Arkansas-Texas SWC rivalry since joining the SEC. That’s about to change. Younger Arkansas fans who don’t remember what that series was like are going to be in for a big surprise. Fans who call Arkansas-Missouri a rivalry, give me a break. They’re about to find out what a real rivalry is. I’m not talking about Texas Fans. OU and A&M will be bigger games to them. But for Hog fans, Texas will be it. I also think that in time OU will become a rivalry game for Arkansas fans and maybe for Sooners fans too.
Q. I’m a little concerned about the new ticket scanning system that the UA is implementing this season requiring tickets to be in mobile wallet and screenshots and QR codes are no longer valid. Something about a bouncing blue thing…..
…..I have tickets in my mobile wallet on my phone but it is a QR code. I wish they wouldn’t make getting through the gates more complicated.
A. This is being done because it was too easy to copy screenshots and use them illegally for resale. The mobile wallet is secure. If you’re having trouble go to arkansasrazorbacks.com and download the app for it.
(Last updated: 2023-08-28 20:27 PM)