Q. Our first question is from BloodRedHog who asks: Does this surprise you with Pittman being a former offensive line coach that
after two games, it appears we still have questions on the O line?
A. I am reminded of the 2015 Arkansas-Toledo game in Little Rock. Sam Pittman was the offensive line coach. Dan Enos was the offensive coordinator. Toledo stacked the box against Arkansas’s O-line. Their down linemen and linebackers were stunting. They held Arkansas to 103 yards rushing. Alex Collins had a mear 54 yards and he lost 14 yards in that game. Arkansas did throw for 412 yards. That should have solved the problem. But Arkansas Brandon Allen could not get the ball across the goal line and the Hogs lost 16-12. That was the second game of the season. Arkansas bounced back with 232 yards in a win over the Aggies, 298 yards in beating Tennessee at Tennessee and 299 yards in a win over LSU. Nobody was takling about Toledo once SEC play started.
Q. Marty Byrde’s Proxie wants to know: The running game issues, is it a problem with the execution by the linemen? Are backs missing some holes? Is it correctable? Better defenses looming. And soon.
A. Coach Pittman said after game one that the O- linemen were not blocking with their shoulders squared up. That happens when you’re dealing with a D-line that stunts. Normally a team deals with that strategy by throwing the ball behind the linebackers and cornerbacks. Arkansas did that against Western Carolina. The passing game was out of sync in the first half of the Kent State game.
Pittman said on Monday of this week that yes, part of the problem was the running backs and he said once Arkansas opened up a comfortable lead in the 3rd quarter he said to Enos, let’s get the running game going, which they did. After a bad first half the Hogs ended up with 172 yards on the ground to 105 the week before. Not great but a definite improvement.
Q. bsweet3747 asks: Why bang your head against the wall trying to establish the run? I have always heard you pass when the defense expects the run and run when they expect the pass. Seems like Kent State was expecting the run and we just kept running it. Were our receivers having trouble getting open or were we being bull headed about establishing the run???
A. I think the receivers were fine. I would not call the decision bull headed but I do think that in the first quarter Pittman said, okay let’s run it and be very patient even if we don’t have early success. It took a while but KJ Jefferson got the running game back on track finishing with 63 yards compared to 24 in game one. That’s all well and good but it’s not the plan Sam Pittman laid out for this season. They want KJ running less not more. They don’t want him hurt like last season. However, based on what he said after the game I think KJ is more comfortable having a green light to run the ball. He actually likes collisions. It will be interesting to see if they give in on this issue starting this week.
Q. OhioHogFan asks: How is it that the huge change in our defense is getting overlooked? The offensive line will come around. A defense that keeps teams out of the end zone, scores points and ends drives with takeaways is this fan’s dream. T-Will is the best hire coach Pit has made.
A. They’ve given up just one touchdown in two games. Have come up with seven sacks and 15 thrown for a loss plays. They have five interceptions, a fumble recovery. Thirty-five points off turnovers and the defense has scored two touchdowns. You are dead on. There is a lot to like about what that defense, under Travis Williams, is doing.
Q. The_Bionic_Pig says: There were quite a few teams among the SEC who struggled this past weekend against obvious inferior competition in the 1st half. Is this what Nick Saban was referring to as “RAT POISON?”
A. Rat poison is paying to much attention to your press clippings. Getting an over inflated opinion of yourself or your team. I think what happened in the games you mentioned is the opponents played harder that those SEC teams expected. I do think when a team is favored by 30 points or more points and they have media predicting scores of 56-7 & 50-14, it’s not always easy to live up to that hype. That old line, a win is a win, applies. Those close games only matter if a team starts struggling consistently.
Q. RazorAlex88 has some observations:
- Teslaa is AMAZING! Some of those catches were just wow!
- KJ is still KJ! I get we are trying to run him less but I still love to see him just plow a defender over!
- LOVE the tenacity on defense! Also a bit impressed Kent State never found the endzone.
- Good to see Dumbo and Bobby get a loss as well as Nick Saban. And of course Dabo and Chad over at Clemson last Monday! Too bad Dorkwitz couldn’t join that party.
A. Dinkywitz almost lost. Middle Tennessee State for to the Mizzou 42 with 3 minutes left down by four points. They needed a touchdown but a 4th down pass to keep the drive alive was incomplete.
A. Dumbo Fisher is in trouble. The Aggies were already out of patience with him. If A&M doesn’t rebound they might just pay that huge buyout to get rid of him. If that happens I would not be surprised if they tried to hire Deon Sanders. He’s the hottest coach out there right now.
Dabo? I think his best days at Clemson are behind him.
Q. Pigsfeat asks: Any truth to the rumor that Arkansas beat Kent State this weekend?
A. Very funny. Winning that game by 22 points when the spread 38 1/2 only matters if you had money on it. How do Oklahoma fans feel about a 28-11 win over SMU after curb stomping Arkansas St. 73-0. What about BYU? They drilled Southern Utah 41-16 but settled for a 14-0 win over Sam Houston State. Wins are wins. The scores don’t matter as long as you keep winning.
Q. Randall Laws wants to know: What just happened? Texas bullying mighty Alabama? There was a seismic shift in the SEC Saturday night. The Saban era is winding down.
A. Alabama has been slowly trending down since that last national title in 2020. From 13-0 to 13-2 in 2021, losing the title game to Georgia. Last season they were 11-2. Didn’t make it into the SEC Championship game. Now they’re off to their first 1-1 start in forever.
Keep in mind that the Tide didn’t get into the SEC championship game in 2019 and missed the playoffs only to bounce back the next year and go undefeated. So burying Saban’s career could be premature.
But I can’t remember when Alabama had a QB who looked that ordinary as what I saw against Texas. Their whole team seemed off. The pass defense was weak. The offensive line wasn’t dominant. Some say that Saban is still landing top high school players but is getting beat in the portal. That Tide boosters are spending so much money on its coaching staff there’s not enough left for big NIL money.
Some are saying the entire SEC is down. Well, Georgia doesn’t look down to me. I think Tennessee is plenty good. We need more games to determine if the SEC is weak this season but if it is, it could open things up for Arkansas.
Q. Eddy Lynn says: The SEC screwed up big time inviting Texas in. Now those Austin tea sippers will be bragging that they own the SEC. Should have left them in the Big 12 where if they win, nobody cares.
A. You know me. I loved it when they were out of sight, out of mind. But beating a weakened Alabama team doesn’t mean they will dominate the SEC. I would not be shocked to see those guys finish 3rd or 4th in the Big 12. I think OU will beat them for sure, maybe Texas Tech or TCU and Georgia would steamroll them if the ‘Horns got into the playoffs against the Bulldogs.
Q. Mousetown wants to know: What’s your take on coach Prime? He seems to be ticking a lot of fans off.
A. Some fans don’t like his in-your-face way of talking. To me that comes from his days as a top NFL and MLB player. He was a tremendous athlete. We expect athletes to talk like that even if some don’t. However you don’t find many great athletes who end up as head coaches. Most retire from the game and become analysts. Can you see Tom Brady as a head coach?
Deon is one of the few and he speaks as a coach the way he did as a player. But once you get past that you know who he reminds me of? Nick Saban. They have the same core values. Doesn’t matter how many stars you come with, you put in the work or you sit on the bench. Both want their players to be men with solid values off the field. To be successful after football is over. Become fathers and raise their kids right.
Q. WVHOGFAN asks: What was going on behind the scene that led to Houston Nutt’s departure from Arkansas? John White let Nutt out of his buyout clause and he resigned after perhaps winning the biggest game of his career.
A. Nutt gave in to pressure from some booster friends to hire Gus Malzahn as offensive coordinator. He didn’t want to do it. Once spring football started in 2006 Hogs fans from Springdale started getting on message boards and complaining that Nutt wasn’t letting Gus do his job. That blew up. Gus got told by Frank Broyles to spread the word among his supporters that they were hurting the team with all the rumors. Once the season started and Mitch Mustain got benched it started all over again. By the time the season was over Frank had had enough and he gave Nutt the green light to take the OC title away from Gus who then promptly quit.
The controversy continued into 2007. Arkansas won just 8 games that season after winning 10 the year before but they did beat the national champions on the road. There were rumors that Nutt was going to Ole Miss. He initially told Broyles that he was staying but changed his mind. The word at the time was that he and his wife were tried of all the drama so they left.
I do think it’s important for the fanbase to get past that stuff. It happened ages ago. Nutt is now in the school’s Hall of Honor.
Q. Hogdogger wants to know: Who decides what non conference teams we play against? I know the SEC manages the conference games schedule but does Pittman get a say so on the no conference opponents? Does he get a list of the available opponents to choose from?
A. The senior administrator for the athletic department works on future schedules for football. He does consult with the head coach.