Pig Trail Nation’s “Ask Mike” segment – September 2nd

Pig Trail Nation

It’s our weekly installment of “Ask Mike” where Arkansas fans get to ask questions of our senior analyst Mike Irwin on Hogville.net. The 44 year veteran covering the Razorbacks has great insight. Check out this week’s segment.

Below is the transcription of today’s Q&A segment:

Let’s get right to our questions for this week.

Kevin asks…..Coach said Ben is the starter, knows the offense can help the young guys. offense seemed real slow in getting the plays in & started. what are your thoughts on why they cannot speed up?

Mike Irwin: Some of it is confusion on the sidelines. That needs get better as we get farther get into the season. But there are also a lot of young guys on the field. If you watched Hicks you saw the frustration in his body language and that’s why he’s out there. To make sure everybody is where they’re supposed to be. Don’t call for the snap until it’s right. That slows things down.

Big Daddy wants to know….Mike, I believe this is the most critical year in Razorback history. What do think happens to the Football program if they have another bad year e.g.less than 5 wins? Could they really ever dig out of that hole?

Mike Irwin: I believe Chad Morris has three years minimum. After that…. if the program is going nowhere…. you go out and find another coach. Yes the program will get out of this hole. There’s some coach out there than can make it happen. There are too many resources and positives about Arkansas for it not to happen.

LZH asks…..Why didn’t we try to take more shots down the field?

Mike Irwin: A combination of things….Hicks did go deep some. He was off target and in some cases the receivers weren’t open. Plus there were some instances where Knox and Burks were wide open and Hicks didn’t see them or he took off to avoid pressure and had to look for a check down receiver. A lot of fans are speculating that Starkel would have taken better advantage of those opportunities. So the QB controversy continues.

Hogeyeblind asks…..Do you think Morris truly believed all the coach speak during camp about the improvements? Why cant we run his offense? Where is the left lane, hammer down? I see turning lane in neutral.

Mike Irwin: Most coaches play up the positives in the pre-season. Tight end was a problem on Saturday. With Cheyenne O’Grady out somebody else needed to step up. Like Chase Harrell and he had a bad game. I think O’Grady will help this offense against Ole Miss but they need more than him. The O-line is a big stumbling block for this offense. We’re not going to see a lot of hammer down until the O-line gets better.

Oklahawg observes….Very shallow participation chart from my perspective. Care to speculate on the relatively small number of offensive players who played yesterday? Is it more about getting the best 11 (and the obligatory skill position backups) comfort together?

Mike Irwin: They want develop depth and that means playing a lot of guys. A game like Saturday theoretically is where you get up big early and play your backups and freshmen. We know that didn’t happen. There are three more non conference games. We’ll see if they can get ahead to the point where they can play more people in those games.

sivad wants to know….Do you think Morris was smart to so defiantly say “I am not going to apologize” after the game?

Mike Irwin: He looked stressed to me. Clearly he understood he was going to take a lot of heat for the lack of productivity by the offense. Probably should have left the word “apologize” out of it. He could have simply used that old coaching phrase..’a win is a win.” We made a lot of mistakes but we won tonight and there are a lot of coaches across the country that can’t say that.

imtad15 asks…Mike, What Razorback teams have started with disappointing wins against below-average small conference or FCS teams yet still had successful seasons?

Mike Irwin: It hasn’t happened often. In fact the only game that sort of fits that bill in my time covering Arkansas was a 16-12 loss to Toldeo in Little Rock under Bret Bielema. Arkansas did bounce back to go 8-5 with a Liberty Bowl win over Kansas State. Mostly losing or struggling in a game like that has been in an early indicator of a bad season.

Pork Twain wants to know…how much stock do you put in the “HY did not hire Morris” talk?

Mike Irwin: Well technically he didn’t hire Morris and he did make a joke about it in a press conference a while back but I’ve seen nothing to indicate that Yurachek is trying to separate himself from that hire which was made by Julia Peoples before he was hired. As I’ve already indicated I beleive Morris gets three years minimum. I don’t think the fact that Yuracheck didn’t hire him will be a factor either way. If Morris turns the program around he stays. If he doesn’t he won’t.

pigbacon asks…With your experience covering Razorback football …obviously the economics and landscape of college athletics has changed over this time.Do any coaches come to mind that maybe did not get a fair shot, at Arkansas to turn a program around?

Mike Irwin: I have always believed that Jack Crowe should not have been fired after one game in he ’92 season. Yes losing to the Citadel was really bad but what was accomplished by removing him after that game? Arkansas went on to win 3 games that year. Joe Kines, a good coach and terrific man wore himself out trying to be the defensive coordinator and interim head coach. Let the season play out. If it continues to go downhill spend that time looking for the right replacment so you can made a change as soon as possible after the season is over. Frank Broyes did a lot of good things in Arkansas but that was one of his mistakes.

maggiesue wants to know….Mike, before you got to Fayetteville perhaps, but what do you know about Cowens, Duckworth incident, and the actions that led to the suspensions? At least as much as you can share.

Mike Irwin: It happened in the third season after I got here and it involved Ben Cowens, Donnie Bobo and Michael Forrest. Bobby Duckworth was not involved. It was called a “Dorm Incident.” And in the media it was hard for us to be any more specific than that. Basically a young lady said one thing happened to her in the athletic dorm with those three players. The players said something completely different. Without other witnesses it was impossible to prove what she alleged. But Arkansas head coach Lou Holtz stepped in with what he called “the do right rule.” Basically telling the players,, ‘You didn’t do the right thing. You are suspended for the Orange Bowl game.’ Arkansas was already a big underdog to number two Oklahoma in that game, Without three of its best players the Hogs were given no chance to win. But in one of the biggest upset in bowl history…Arkansas not only won the game…but blew the doors off of the Sooners to finish the season at 11-1… the second best record in school history. Holtz became a media sensation with his do right rule.

Go_Hawgz!!! asks…Why did it look like Portland State’s starting QB was superior to anything we have on our roster?

Mike Irwin: Probably because you’re mad about the game so you’re exaggeraging. Davis Alexander completed 47% of his passes, for 81 yards. He threw two interceptions. He ran for 28 net yards and was sacked 6 times. And his team failed to score a touchdown while he was in the game. Not exactly a great performance. On the other hand Ben Hicks passed for 143 yards with no interceptions and Arkansas scored twice while he was on the field. Hicks didn’t set the world on fire but any objective observer would conclude that he had a better game than Alexander.

Okay, time for me to answer another one of my own questions for me. Mike, why did Arkansas struggle to move the ball against somebody like Portland State?

Mike Irwin: Okay first things first, this early in the season there is no way to know how good or bad Portland State is. They could end up one of the best FCS teams this season or could struggle in their own conference. What I do know is that they served up the right defense to cause Arkansas problems. Their shifting four and five man fronts featured movement designed to cause blocking problems which helped in stopping the run and harassing Ben Hicks. What Hicks really needed was an effective tight end that he could get the ball to quickly to counteract the quick pressure he was facing. This offense really missed Cheyenne O’Grady. Chase Harrell had too many drops. We’ve been hearing that there’s depth at tight end. I did not see that on Saturday. Hopefully O’Grady will be back this week for Ole Miss.

This reminder that if you want to ase me a question go to Hogville.net. Sign up if you are not already a member. It’s totally free. They have one of the best message boards in college sports. Go to the Ask Mike Forum and post your question. I can’t answer every question but if you ask a good one, I’ll include it. That wraps up another Q and A session which we call ask Mike. I’ll see you here again next Monday when hopefully we’ll be discussing Chad Morris first SEC win.

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