Q. Our first question this week is from HawgRedneck who wants to know: What did you think of Muss’ decision to start Nick Smith Jr. against Florida? I thought it was exactly the thing to do.
A. I think he had two choices, play him a little more each game and hope he slowly comes around or just stick him in there like he’s never been gone and yes, start him. Look, NSJ didn’t exactly tear it up but he was a definite net positive for the first time since he came back. Ten Points. Two Steals. An impressive assist to Anthony Black on an ally oop dunk. There’s still no way to know if that game is gonna jump start him but all these fans that have been suggesting that NSJ was messing with the team chemistry, I think it was the other way around. He wasn’t a part of the team chemistry so it was messing with his head. This kid is not used to coming off the bench. Put him out there in his usual role before this knee management issue started and see what happens. Looks like to me it worked.
As far as the team chemistry issue, Council said it has never been a problem. It’s about sitting out for seven weeks and what that does to a player’s own chemistry.
Q. RazorAlex88 says: That win over Florida was just what the doctor ordered! Would be great to get a streak going continuing with another win vs Georgia on Tuesday night heading into the hopeful revenge match vs Bama on Saturday!
A. They pretty much had to win the Florida game and the same is true of Georgia at home. Arkansas is tied for 7th in the SEC but its NET Ranking number is 3rd. Losing at Alabama and Tennessee is not going to drop them to 6th. So they don’t have to win either one of those games but come back home and lose to Kentucky and they might end up having to do some damage in the SEC Tournament to get into the NCAA Tournament. But to me, they’re in. I don’t see them not making it.
Q. Jimmy Ragman asks: Why is Musselman so stingy with Graham’s playing time. This kid needs to be on the floor. He’s a scoring machine inside where we need him.
A. Graham needs to play better defense and that includes rebounding better. That’s what’s been holding him back. But the truth is, he’s been slowly improving for weeks now. I do think he’s reached the point where we’re gonna see him a lot more from here on out.
Q. A lot of theories on social media about Arkansas offensive collapse at the end of the A&M game.
Jim Beavers offered this assessment: I would think it has a lot to do with our best cutter (Walsh) fouling out and the players on the floor being fatigued.
A. That’s a pretty good observation. You can look at the scoring numbers. This team doesn’t click as well with Walsh not available and yes, it sure looked like Arkansas ran out of gas against both A&M and Mississippi State late in those games. Playing time went down for Arkansas’ starters in the Florida game compared to the Mississippi State game and the A&M game. Everybody was fresher.
Nick Smith Jr. and Jalen Graham played a lot more. So those fans who were complaining on social media that Muss was wearing his starters out, it looks like he knew that and did something about it. But that only worked because those two guys played well. When they don’t, they come out and the other six or seven play more.
Q. revolution says: Arkansas has had many great point guards through the years: Alvin Robertson, Corey Beck, Lee Mayberry, Kareem Reid, Anthony Black, etc.
Who would make your top 5 Razorback point guards in the time you’ve followed the Hogs?
A. You got it. That’s my list too. At one point I was thinking Black would not be around long enough to make a list like that but he’s done enough. His body of work this season says yes.
Q. Marty Byrde’s proxy asks: Any explanation on calculating how a player gets a plus or minus for the game. Player A was “+3” for example. What’s up with that?
A. Basically it’s points scored and points given up by the team while a specific player in on the floor. If Arkansas scores 5 more points than it gives up while Jordan Walsh is on the floor he gets a plus 5. This stat has been letting Muss know that even if Walsh doesn’t have great numbers in a specific game, the team usually plays better while he’s on the floor. The same is true in most of the games NSJ has played.
Q. Mousetown wants to know: Do you think DVH regrets that statement about having his deepest pitching staff ever this season? TCU destroyed his bullpen.
A. Not really. TCU is very good at the plate and they threw two good pitchers at Arkansas. Will McEntire started for the Hogs. He’s good but he had a bad day. Getting everything up in the zone. TCU jumped all over him. He only lasted 1 1/3. Gave up 4 runs.
Zach Morris came in next. He actually pitched well. Went 3 and 1/3. It was a 4-4 ball game in the 5th when TCU put runners at the corners with two out. Van Horn decided to put freshman Gauge Wood into a pressure spot. See what he could do. Wood promptly gave up a hit and TCU went up 5-4. Wood then walked a batter, loading the bases and followed with a wild pitch, so was 6-4.
At that point DVH brought in Austin Ledbetter who’s an experienced reliever and he got the 3rd out. Not bad.
But in the 6th Ledbetter was touched for three runs. It was 9-4 and I think Van Horn said, we’re not winning this game the way TCU is hitting ball so he decided to test some rookies in a difficult situation to see what they could do. That’s what you do in non conference games when you’re way behind or way ahead. Those rookies didn’t respond well. Five pitchers issued a combined 6 walks and gave up a combined 8 hits. That’s how you end up with an 18-6 score.
Look, getting clobbered by another team is not the kiss of death. Two seasons ago Arkansas won 50 games and was number one in the country for almost the entire regular season. But they lost to a below average Alabama team in Fayetteville 16-1.
Q. Armon Abbe says: What a bounce back against Oklahoma State. Baseball is a crazy game.
A. That’s my point. Lose to TCU 18-6, the next day you beat Oklahoma State 18-1. That’s baseball. The thing you have to like is the way those guys bounced back less than a day later. This is a team with a lot of new parts. It tells me that they knew what the expectations were and they understood that they sent 15 thousand or so Hogs fan home unhappy Saturday night. So they did something about it Sunday afternoon.
Plus TCU then got beat by Missouri Sunday night. How in the world did that happen? Simple. You score double digit runs in a game and the next time out you almost always have a drop off in run production.
So TCU only scores 8 runs against Mizzou and their day three pitching is not what it was on day two. They gave up nine to the Tigers and got beat.
Q. S giles asks: Who impressed you the most in the Arlington tournament. Hitters & Pitchers.
A. Hitters, who else? Left fielder Jared Wegner. 3 HR, 6 hits, 8 RBI.
Arkansas’ three veterans all played well. Peyton Stovall, Jace Bohrofen & Kendall Diggs. But Kansas center field transfer Tavian Josenbarger and the true freshman 3rd baseman Jayson Jones both showed some promise. Josenbarger with 3 hits and two RBI and a home run. Jones played in just two games, coming in for Caleb Cali who struggled against Texas. Jones had a hit and an RBI against TCU. He also walked three times and scored twice against Oklahoma State.
Pitching: Sophomore lefty Hagan Smith. A one-hit 5 inning shut out against Texas with 8 strikeouts.
JUCO Transfer Hunter Hollan. Four innings, 3 hits, 1 run against Oklahoma State with 5 K’s.
In relief, Brady Tygart. He went 1 and 2/3 with no hits and 3 strikeouts in closing out Texas.
Q. LostinSwine wants to know: How do you like the new pitch clock in college baseball?
A. It’s a clock on both the pitchers and the hitters and it’s totally nuts. This is all being done to please the TV executives. They look at numbers that show viewer levels dropping off the longer a game goes and they’re gonna tackle the problem no matter that it does to the games.
Q. Sheree Freeland says: I live out of state but I’m in love with Arkansas softball. However, I’m a little worried after this Florida Tournament. Our pitchers gave up 22 runs to the three ranked teams we played. Nine, seven and six runs. What do you think?
A. Well they went 1-2 against ranked teams. Might drop out of the top 10. There are a lot of new faces on this team and they’re 8-2 overall with a tougher schedule through the first 10 games compared to last year. All of their first 10 games have been on the road. Last year half of the first 10 were home games.
Last year at this point Arkansas was 7-3, had lost to two unranked teams and had not beaten a ranked team. So it’s hardly a disaster.
They’re hitting .293 as a team. You’d like to see that number up to around .320 but again with so many new additions to the lineup I think that number will go up, especially when they start playing home games. The home run total is good, 16 in 10 games. 1.6 per game compared to all of last year at 1.8. That number should also improve as they start playing at home.
The pitching numbers are good. A staff ERA of 2.48 so far compared to 2.7 for last season. How about Robyn Herron? The true freshman lefty is 3-0 with an ERA of .86. Chenise Delce
is 3-1 with an ERA of 2.02. That’s lower than last year.
There is no reason to panic. This team is in good shape. They’ve got five games at home this weekend hosting the Razorback Invitational including three games against No. 15 Arizona.
Go out and watch ’em. It will be fun.
Q. Eddy Lynn says: A friend of mine said the 18-1 score of the OSU game looked more like a football score. I disagree. There’s no way to score one point in a football game. Got me thinking though. There aren’t a lot of way to score points in a football game but there are endless combinations. Right?
A. Strange question but I’ll play along.
There are endless possibilities on the final score of any game with the exception of the one you mentioned. One point cannot be a part of any final score. The only way to score one point is on a one point kick conversion and that can only come after a touchdown.
As for ways to score, there’s the one point mentioned on an extra point kick.
There are three ways to score two points. A safety against your opponent, a two point conversion after a touchdown, or returning an extra point attempt across your opponents goal line.
Three points can be scored by successfully kicking a field goal.
There’s no way to score four points on a single play or five points.
The final way to score on a single play is 6 points on a touchdown.
That’s it. But as you mentioned, there are endless combinations of those.