Spring Game/No Tackle Scrimmage, Hogs Sweep LSU & Hot Head Vitello


Q. Our first question is from St. Clair Hofman who wants to know: Why did Pittman skip the Red-White game in favor of a non tackling indoor scrimmage. We fans look forward to a spring game.

A. The game was moved indoors because there was a chance of lightening in the forecast that morning and he didn’t want to take a chance on that. The media and family members of the players were allowed inside the indoor practice field.

As for no tackling, he didn’t want to get anybody hurt and he’s convinced that tackling can be properly simulated with what’s called “thudding.”

A lot of coaching are going to this not, just in the spring but in fall practices. In the old days it was often said that teams that tackled poorly once the season started didn’t do enough live tackling in August camp.

Again, these days there is pretty good evidence to suggest that live tackling can be limited in practices without causing issues during games.

I get it that fans look forward to the Red-White game but winning games in the fall is the goal and if Sam Pittman wats to do it this way I’m guessing that most fans are on board with it.

Q. The spring scrimmage was on television and hawg IQ says: It was hard to get a good read with ESPN doing so poorly on coverage. That was worse than haphazard. Nothing jumps out with controlled scrimmages and it never does.

A. I would agree with that without live tackling there’s not a lot for fans to see. They have to imagine tackles that would have been broken. Hard sacks that could have been made. But again, the coaches can read this stuff and come away with video to study all summer. It’s mainly for their benefit not the fans. I’m not a big fan of traditional spring games anyway and I really think they’re being de-emphasized these days by a lot of coaches.

Q. ThisTeetsTaken didn’t like the telecast but got something out of it. He says: Drew Sanders is a STUD. We need a few WR’s to step up and get open. It’s so good to have Catalon back. OL looks big. QB’s were unimpressive. Pretty boring broadcast.

A. I was there in person and didn’t see the telecast so I can’t comment on how boring it was. I do agree with this assesment. Drew Sanders is big, physical, fast linebacker who may end up being a game changer on defense. At one point he came across the field and ran Malik Hornsby out of bounds before he could turn the corner. He had a bit of an angle on Hornsby but what he did was still an eye opener.

Also the O-line is noticably bigger and not just one deep. The number two O line looked like they could step up and play without much of a drop off.

There were to many dropped passes and that’s why the QB’s weren’t that impressive. I did think they ran it well and Malik Hornsby look good as a receiver out of the slot.

Q. HotlantaHog asks: What is your too-early prediction of how many wins realistically this team is likely to achieve?

A. You don’t want my prediction. I’m terrible with predictions. I said they’d win six games last year. They won nine. If you want a number, I’ll go with eight. Why eight? The non conference schedule is tougher and A&M will better. Don’t worry. I’m probably wrong.

Q. BloodRedHog: Why is the Razorback football team so disrespected by ESPN?

A. You’re referring to the preseason poll where they don’t have Arkansas ranked but teams like Auburn are.
Their explanation is what I just mentioned. Arkansas’ schedule was tough last year. It will be tougher this season. Don’t worry about ESPN predictions. They’re worse at it that I am.

Q. robs4516 says: I think we can all agree there was more talent on the team during Morris’ tenure than the record showed. What are your thoughts on the talent level when Pittman arrived compared to now? How close do you feel we are to having upper-level SEC talent?

A. Close. The recruiting is getting better each year and Pittman has shown he knows how to work the portal. I’d say by 2024 Arkansas should have upper level SEC talent across the board.

Q. Pigsfeat asks: Any word on how Jaden Rashada’s visit went? Inquiring minds want to know!

A. Apparently it went great. He’s the number 1 duel threat QB in the country. He said being from California he didn’t know what to expect coming to Arkansas but the visit really opened his eyes about whether he could be comfortable here. He liked the coaches. Spent some time with Kendal Briles and was impressed. He said he’s planning to make a return visit before he makes his final decision.

Q. WizardofhOgZ says: With Coach Pittman’s new contract terms (as per his comments in the post-scrimmage presser) it appears that he has moved into the “Hotel Arkansas.” He can check out anytime he wants…but he can never leave. Your thoughts about locking him up for the rest of his coaching career?

A. It sure cleared up a lot of questions. Pittman basically said that it’s a lifetime contract for him. He can be fired but he can’t jump ship for another school. He said that was his idea and it was done for recruiting. He wants the players he’s recruiting to see that if they come to Arkansas he’s not going to sign them and leave them to be coached by somebody else. I’m guessing he’s going to get a hefty raise with built in salary adjustments based on longevity.

This is reasonable if he’s going to take other jobs completely off the table. It also means he was telling the truth when he said this was his last coaching job.

Q. To baseball where Razrpig256 says of Arkansas’s sweep of LSU: Talks of our demise were greatly exaggerated. 11-4 is the same record we had through 15 games last year.

A. It shows how quickly things can change in one weekend in the SEC. Going into Thursday the Hogs had a one game lead in the West with three other teams. With LSU’s hitting and the way Arkansas game two and three pitching struggled against Florida an LSU series win seemed likely. Which could have dropped them into a two or three way tie. Instead, they now have a three game lead in the West.
But remember that can quickly change too. The schedule from now until the end of the regular season gets tougher with A&M, Auburn and Alabama coming up. All three of them are tied for second behind Arkansas in the West.

Q. WooPig348 says: Tony Vitello hasn’t made a ton of friends within the Arkansas fan base over the past year. What did you think of his ejection and suspension from this past weekend?

A. I said last week that if he didn’t tone his “Tennessee against the rest of the SEC” approach down, there was going to be trouble. I didn’t see it coming this fast. Apparently he got into it with the umps in game one with Alabama which Tennessee lost. It continued the next day. In game two Tennessee’s pitching coach got ejected while arguing with the umps after his starting pitcher was hit by a line drive. Vitello came out to argue that ejection and he ended up getting tossed too. He then chest bumped the 3rd base ump. The NCAA stepped in and gave him a four-game suspension.

Tennessee baseball fans have jumped in to support him blaming the ump for having a quick trigger.

To me that’s nonsense. Vitello had better see this as a warning to change directions. If he doesn’t he could end up undoing everything he’s built up over the last few years and really hurt his career.

Q. Pudgepork wants to know: Has Vitello morphed into this hot head cartoon character? I’m trying to figure out if he has always been this way. How did he ever get hired by DVH?

A. He’s always been a firey guy but Van Horn was there to keep him toned down. His main value was as a recruiter and there’s no question that he changed the talent level in his time here. Now that he’s at Tennessee he’s still a great recruiter but he has no one to filter his aggressive approach.

Q. There’s been quite a reaction to this by Arkansas fans all over social media. Mike you have some comments by other fans.

I do. hoglady says: Tenner’s behavior impacts the entire atmosphere, fans, both teams and the umps. It’s ridiculous. And it starts with Vitello/ you have to figure this is the type culture he wants.

Michelle McGhee says: These coaches are there to be role models and mold these young men. What kind of example is he setting? I think he got off easy.

According to Sherrie Hicks Robinson: He’s getting a little too big for his britches.

and Marjorie Gerik adds: Vitello has a bad temper. I wish DVH would have held him in a headlock last year reminiscent of Nolan Ryan vs Robin Ventura back in the day! However, DVH has too much class.

Q. Swinefeld says: Been some recent movement in the women’s basketball program, with one former in-state stop playing basketball and another in-state transferring to another SEC school. Is this just normal shake up, or is there some concern within the program?

A. As I understand it Elauna Eaton hit the portal because she saw herself as a short and mid range jump shot player and she felt like she didn’t fit into coach Mike Neighbors’ three-point shooting philosophy. As for Shasha Gofourth, she has a medical issue that caused her to give up basketball. Eaton’s transfer is normal especially with how easy it is to transfer these days. Gofourth’s situation is rare but it has nothing to do with the way the program is bring run. Within the program I don’t think there is concern. Some of the fans are concerned. The Arkansas women need to have a good season next year. Be more competitive in the SEC and win an NCAA Tournament game or two.

Q. Alex4Hogs88 has our final question. He says: I died laughing when you bagged on A&M and LSU on the most recent Q&A. What are some of the WORST football STADIUMS you have been to over the years? Which facilities do they just need to take a wrecking ball to?

A. Wrecking ball is too dramatic. Vandy could use some upgrades. It reminds me of Razorback stadium in the 70’s.

This is subjective on my part but I’ve never liked the location of Williams-Bryce Stadium, South Carolina’s facility. It’s nowhere near the campus. It’s by the railroad tracks in what looks like an industrial area. It’s surrounded by big parking lots which may be convenient for the fans but the place has no character. The fans tailgate in railroad cars. I guess that’s cool but it seems weird to me.

I’ve also said many times that Missouri has a really strange football stadium. It sits in a ravine next to a five-lane expressway on two sides. The campus is on the other side of one of those expressways. We’re talking college football. Why would you not want to have your stadium on campus?

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