Q. Our first question this week is from Razorback Redneck who says: I was stressed all week about Mississippi State. I was afraid we couldn’t stop them. The win was huge for us and I’m really excited. But did we get lucky?
A. Arkansas got lucky on the missed field goal at the end but look, it’s about time this football program caught a break. With a few breaks they could have won several games over the last two seasons that they lost.
Also that was luck on one play. It wasn’t luck that held Mississippi State to 14 points for three quarters. It wasn’t luck that the offense put together that last 10 play, 75 yard touchdown drive down 28-23 with just over two minutes left. It wasn’t luck that Arkansas ran for 202 yards against the number two run stop defense in the SEC, a team that was giving up less that half that going into the game.
The Hogs earned that win and the crowd was a big factor. They just caught a break on the final kick.
Q. Dee Hoffman on Facebook wants to know: Did Mike Leach blow that game on a dumb decision?
A. Yes. An emotional decision that was a dumb decision. He was mad at his regular kicker and put a walk on into the game to try to tie it up giving MSU a chance to possibly win in overtime. That kicker was clearly not ready for that kind of pressure. It was one of the worst field goal attempts I’ve ever seen. So bad it looked like it was partially blocked when it wasn’t. Leach is an outstanding coach but he has a habit of doing odd things when he gets mad at his players. So thank you Mike Leach for getting mad at the wrong time for you and the right time for Arkansas.
Q. “The Hawk” Hawkins on Facebook says: It sure looks like Dominique Johnson has won the job at running back and he’s earned it. But I’m worried about AJ Green. He didn’t play against Mississippi State. Since Johnson is just a sophomore do you see Green maybe hitting the portal after the season is over?
A. That’s always going to be a worry with the new one time transfer rule. Very talented freshmen who don’t want to wait to be the star, enter the portal if they don’t see themselves starting by year two. I have no idea what Green’s thinking is. I have not heard that he’s concerned. He may be fine with his situation right now. But across the country coaches know what’s coming and fans are going to have to get used to the fact that their team will lose some really good young players if they’re playing behind somebody who is also good with more experience.
Knowing Sam Pittman, I think he will do a good job of limiting that kind of thing but it will happen. It’s already happening all over college football.
Q. @ Roland & Rocky want to know: What do we do about our defense? KJ and the offense are on the right path but their kicker won the game for us yesterday.
A. I thought the defense was really good in the first half. They held Mississippi State scoreless until seconds before the end of the half. Grant Morgan had a pick. They had another pick which would have prevented that score with seconds left but the refs ruled pass interference. It was the right call but man was it close. Through three quarters the defense held the air raid to 14 points and the 28 points MSU scored was their season average. So there was nothing bad about the defense. Mississippi State is that good. If anything it was the offense that was the problem. Too many penalties. KJ Jefferson was 100% on his passes in the first half but he only threw the ball six times. In the end, the offense did a great job on the scoring drive that won the game. Some fans didn’t seem to realize just how good Mississippi State was. They have the top passing offense in the SEC and the number two run stop defense. It was a big win.
Q. BloodRedHog says: This is KJ Jefferson’s first year as a starter.
I know we’ve joked about the KJ and Cam Newton comparisons, but what do you think is KJ’s ceiling? He seems to get better each game.
A. It’s going to be fun to find out what his ceiling is over the rest of this season and into next year. I’m not really sure but the only thing I worry about is injuries. I think he’s got some issues right now. He didn’t look like he was full go running in this game and his passing was off at times. If he gets fully healthy there’s no telling out good he can be. I really questioned his passing ability going into this season. Boy was I ever wrong about that.
Q. Edwardclutch says: Basketball currently has the #2 ranked recruiting class in the country, baseball has #4 and softball #1. Track gets world class athletes from all over the world. Seems like no matter who the football coach is we are always near the bottom of the SEC when it comes to recruiting. How are other sports able to do this but football can’t?
A. It’s a numbers game. In those sports you mentioned they’re signing five or six athletes a season at the most. In football it’s over 20. But the real answer is that football drives everything in the SEC and every school but one (Vanderbilt) has the resources to go full bore all the time in recruiting. LSU can recruit Louisiana and land a top 10 class almost every year. Alabama and Auburn can recruit Alabama but go into Georgia and Florida and clean up. A&M is dominating Texas now that the Aggies are in the SEC. Arkansas has to recruit Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Missouri and they try to pick off a player or two in other SEC states. It’s not easy. The thing I like about Sam Pittman is that he’s got strong ties into Georgia. He also demands that every assistant coach recruit. In the past most of it was done by five or six of the 10 assistants. He is making progress. They are 19th in the country right now and I believe its going to get a lot better.
Q. pghawg1 asks: Have you heard anything about the U of A putting a banner up at Bud Walton Arena for going to Elite 8 last season?
A. The word I got when I asked was, quote: “Don’t know of plans to do so.”
I can’t imagine that it wouldn’t be put up and it may be that they just don’t want to put the word out there until fans come to the arena Tuesday night and see it as a surprise.
If it’s not up we’ll discuss it next week as to why not.
Q. Back to football. @ glenwoodace says: The Barry Lunneys (UTSA) are ranked 15th by the media, 16th by the coaches. How about that?
A. I could not be happier. Barry Junior was one of my favorite Arkansas assistants. He wants to be the head coach here some day. He’s building his resume right now. For UTSA to be ranked like this in year two under Jeff Traylor, who was a former running back coach here, is great guy. At one point it looked like he might go for the Texas Tech job. If that had happened Lunney might have gotten the head coaching job at UT San Antonio. I wish him all the luck in the world and I’m pulling for him.
Q. Oklahawg says: Discuss the crowd. MS State is not in UA fans’ top tier of opponents, it is deer season, and yet we almost sold out RRS. And, the crowd seemed active – are we seeing a new “floor” to attendance?
A. Considering how important that game was I was hoping for close to a sell out. Looks like was just under 70 thousand. Like you pointed out, Arkansas fans sometimes react to the name of the opponent rather than when they rank coming into a game. If that had been LSU under similar circumstances it will have been 75 thousand. The crowd was loud, active and disruptive.
You still have this issue of Central or Eastern Arkansas fans not traveling to Fayetteville on consecutive weekends. It helped last Saturday that it had been three weeks since the Auburn game on the Hill. Mid major non conference opponents still don’t draw all that well in Fayetteville.
Is Arkansas ever going to get to a point where more seats are needed? I doubt it. The trend is for smaller crowds across college football not bigger crowds. I think the goal for the athletic department moving forward is to try to create more sellout games and improve the tailgating experience.
Q. @mousetown is mad about the polls. He says: Arkansas is 6-3 with 3 wins against top 25 teams and their only three losses were to top 25 teams but they’re not ranked in any of the polls. Jerks. I have steam coming out of my ears.
A. I’ll make you even madder. The ESPN Power index has Texas at 19th and Arkansas is not ranked. Power rankings are computer generated from statistics. Supposedly it is strictly objective based on numbers. The human element is not a factor.
But what goes into the computerized formula? It should start with your record. Arkansas is 6-3. Texas is 4-5. Strength of schedule should also be a big part of the formula. Remember all that talk about Arkansas having the toughest schedule in the country? According to the computer it’s only 20th and Texas 6th. Seriously? Arkansas has played the number one team in the country out of the SEC East and a typically brutal SEC West schedule and they’re 20th? That’s nuts. Texas has played Arkansas OU, OSU & Baylor. Okay Those are good teams but it doesn’t add up to the 6th toughest schedule in the country.
So the computer is flawed.
The college football playoffs poll is due out Tuesday morning. That’s the best poll and the only one that really matters. I’m going to predict that Arkansas is in that poll. So chill until Tuesday morning. If they are not in that poll you can get mad again.
Q. Pigsfeat wants to know: Did I see SEVERAL holding calls against MissSt not made in the game or does the average fan, like me, not know what holding is?
A. The one they’re missing the most is on Tre Williams and it’s happening a lot. That guy is a terrific pass rusher and he’s getting held on his left arm as he approaches the QB. It’s sometimes hard for the refs to see but hopefully Sam Pittman is saying something about that to them before the games because it’s got to stop.
Alex4Hogs88 says: It’s “LSU Hate Week”!
What is your top victory over the Kitties and anymore interesting LSwho memories?
A. That win in 2014 in Fayetteville under Bielema snapped a 13 game SEC losing streak. The fans rushed the field. The players ran over to the LSU side and grabbed that boot. it was great. But my favorite is the 2010 in game Little Rock. That 80 yard touchdown pass from Ryan Mallet to Cobi Hamilton on the last play of the first half to break a 14-14 tie is the stuff of legends. It was the last great game at War Memorial. The last time that crowd went totally nuts. Fans who didn’t experience what War Memorial was in the 60s, 70s, 80’s & 90’s have no idea. It was a great place to watch a football game.
Q. TL Slaten says: A buddy told me that Pittman did some crazy thing with a bowling ball after the game on Saturday on honor of the team becoming bowl eligible. I don’t have a question. I just wanted to say that our coach is the best.
A. Let’s show the video of what he did. It’s terrific. No wonder the players love the fact that he’s their head coach.