PTN’s Ask Mike: Baseball Tickets, Arkansas Wide Receivers, Rice Game Prediction & More

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Q. The hot story right now is an announced hike in ticket prices for baseball. Most of it involves a major increase in the donation level required for premium seating. That has Dr. Strangepork concerned.
He wants to know: Do you think it is wise with the new donations level pushing out longtime loyal season ticket holders? No matter how much they talk about One Razorback- those suits just want the money. I feel sorry for DVH and the team when the crowds are not as big, loud and loyal in the future.

A. As long as the baseball program is winning at the current level its’ gonna draw big crowds for big games.

But a lot of the most loyal fans who have sat in the same seats since Baum-Walker opened over 25 years ago are gonna be moved to other locations and based on what some of them have indicated on social media, they may give up their tickets period.

But will they if next year’s Hogs are anything like last season’s team.

I think that’s what the people who made this decision are banking on.

But a lot of the fans will say this is a continuation of the bottom line decisions made when Jeff Long was running the show. Whatever happened in he past is not relevant. The modern business model for college athletics is strictly supply and demand.

Some of these fans counter by asking, What about one Razorback? The Razorback way of doing things that Hunter Yurachek has largely respected until now.

These fans who are going to get moved are some of the smartest college baseball fans there are. They are why Baum Walker has a better baseball atmosphere than places where fans may annoy the fool out of the opposing team but it’s stupid annoying, not smart annoying.

Some say this move is going to fundamentally change Baum-Walker. Will these high dollar newcomers know the Hog baseball traditions at the stadium? Will they show up for midweek games when it’s cold in March?

Will they be there when the team is having an off year?

I realize that the athletic department needs money really badly right now with the COVID shortfalls from last season, but are they about to do some long term damage for short term profit?

One longtime baseball season ticket holder said to me, I think Hunter Yurachek is a good guy who got some bad advice. I don’t think he realizes how controversial this is going to be.

We will see.

Q. Ham Porter asks: From what you have seen or heard during camp, what gives you optimism going into this season? And from what you have seen or heard during camp, what concerns you going into this season?

A. The optimism comes from watching the defense. Those guys don’t make many mistakes, at least while we’re watching. The pass rush is really good. The coverage is tight. There aren’t big holes for the backs to run through. They appear to have a lot more depth on the D-line, at linebacker and in the secondary than last year.

The concern has to be on the offensive side. Sam Pittman says they’ve done some good things and he has confidence in them but when we’re watching I’ve just seen a lot of mistakes, but more so in the first couple of weeks. Last week they started to look better. But as I keep saying, I’ve never been confident in what we see in preseason practices. We don’t see enough and none of the scrimmages. To me the season opener is a mystery. I’m not sure what to expect.

Q. runninrazorback wants to know: With Treylon dinged up a little bit is our receiver depth suddenly an issue?

A. It’s starting to look like might not play. But with regard to depth they are loaded with options at receiver. We’re talking Trey Knox, De’ Vion Warren, Ketron Jackson, Bryce Stephens, Kendall Catalon, Jaquayln Crawford, John David White and Warren Thompson. Pittman has mentioned all of those guys in August Camp. We’ll see how many of them come into play when the season starts but the head coach sure doesn’t talk like he has issues at wide receiver.

Q. T.L. Slaten wants to know: Did Sam Pittman say he will use Malik Hornsby in Saturday’s game? A two QB system doesn’t sound good to me. I liked it last year when we finally had a starting quarterback who only came off the field when he was hurt.

A. I hear you. The QB shuffle we saw in the two years under Chad Morris has most fans spooked about playing more than one QB.

What Pittman said, in answer to a question, was that he would not have a problem with playing Hornsby. He ended up admitting that he used Hornsby in a couple of situations last year when he was not ready. So I think he’s trying to say that he has a lot more confidence in Hornsby this season. He’s more ready to play. Just watching the young man in practice, I would agree. I think he showed some skills last spring and I’ve seen him do some good things in camp. But I’ve also seen him struggle at times.

If he plays against Rice I think his role will be limited. Maybe a few plays out of a special package.

Q. sowmonella asks: What are the chances Arkansas follows LSU’s lead and requires COVID Vaccination Proof or clean tests for Razorback Stadium games?

A. There’s been no announced change in the stated game day policy from early in the summer. Full capacity crowds. Proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test has never been mentioned as a requirement for attending games. If that changes there will be an announcement. So far there has been none. Also countering the LSU announcement was a new release out of Georgia yesterday indicating, full crowds, no masks required and no proof of vaccinations required to attend Georgia home games this season.

Q. BloodRedHog says: A recent article in Best of Arkansas Sports argues it is possible Treylon Burks could end his career as the greatest wide receiver in Arkansas history. Do you think this could happen and do you think Burks will turn pro after this season?

Do you think this could happen and do you think Burks will turn pro after this season?

A. If you go through the record book in various receiving categories Treylon Burks is listed in one category. He’s third in most receiving yards in a game at 206 behind Cobi Hamilton and Jarius Wright. Could he break that record this season with a huge game? Maybe but Hamilton and Wright combined hold records in nine of thirteen categories.

When you talk great receivers at Arkansas you’re also talking about guys like Anthony Lucas, Joe Adams, Chuck Dicus, Derek Russell, Lance Alworth. So will Burks be the best? That’s totally subjective. No way prove it. To some fans he will be. To a lot of others, who understand the whole history of Hog football, probably not unless Burks has an insane season. Personally, I don’t think there is a best. Just several great ones.

The second part of that question is a lot easier to answer. Yes, Treylon Burks will be gone after this year.

Q. Lanny wants to know: What do you think of the captains on this year’s team?

A. Let’s take a look at them.
Grant Morgan, Jalen Catalon and Myron Cunningham are no brainers. I’m a little surprised that the best player on the team is not a captain since he’ll be an upperclassman this season. But Treylon Burks was not picked. Joe Foucha and K. J. Jefferson were. But the captains are picked by the players. They know each other better than anyone. What this tells me is that Joe Foucha is a leader that they respect and it’s telling that Jefferson, a sophomore, and one of only two non seniors to be selected, is respected that much by his teammates. It’s a good sign.

Q. Razorback Redneck asks. Could you explain Kendal Briles basic offensive philosophy? After last year I still don’t have a good feel for what he wants to do with the ball.

A. There’s a poster on Hogville who goes by the username of Muskogee Hog Fan. He posts questions here from time to time. Usually it’s about X’s and O’s stuff like this question. He actually started a discussion last week on Hogville about Briles and his philosophy. I’m gonna paraphrase what he posted but basically it’s speed on the edges and power up the middle.

Speed has to be covered and when it’s on the edges it forces the defense to spread out more. When that happens a defense has trouble stopping a power running game. If you mix up the play calling, going back and forth, you can keep the defense from loading up on you.

The problem last season was an offensive line that was too small with little depth. So a major component of what Briles wanted to do was not there, at least on any kind of consistent basis. Because the O-line this year is bigger and deeper there is a belief that we will see more of Briles true philosophy at work.

Q. mousetown says: Frank Broyles ran off some top coaches on his watch like Eddie Sutton, Nolan Richardson, Lou Holtz, and Ken Hatfield. I’ve had people tell me he did it because he didn’t want any of them to exceed his reputation as the top coach ever at Arkansas. Any truth to that?

A. That’s message board nonsense. The winningest coach ever at Arkansas was John McDonnell. He won over 40 national championships. Not one time did Frank ever try to run him off.

Frank was all about the fans and what puts fans in the seats. Winning does that.

He fired Lou because his recruiting had gotten so bad he was losing some of the top players in the state to Oklahoma. His reputation with the high school coaches in Arkansas was not good. He was difficult to deal with. Over the years he insulted Frank, various coaches in other sports and some pretty big boosters.

The truth is Lou never stayed in any job very long and Frank certainly wasn’t the only AD that fired him.

Eddie Sutton had a drinking problem. It’s as simple as that. Frank wanted him to get treatment. Eddie refused. Also Frank didn’t fire Eddie but he would have and Eddie knew it which is why he jumped to Kentucky which did end up firing him too.

With Hatfield it was another relatively simple issue. His staff. Frank thought Hatfield was an outstanding head coach with great character but he believed Hatfield should upgrade his staff and offered help him do do. Hatfield refused.

So he turned up the heat on Hatfield and it worked. Hatfield
had his best two years at Arkansas in ’88 and ’89 after hiring a new defensive coordinator and a new offensive coordinator. As far as Frank was concerned the problem was solved and there were no issues. But Hatfield thought Frank was micromanaging him too much and he left for Clemson.

I like Ken Hafield but Frank was right. Hafield did need a better staff and when he upgraded Arkansas won two SEC titles.

Nolan was Frank’s one big mistake. Frank let some boosters convince him that Nolan was bad for Razorback athletics because he kept pointing out that there needed to be more racial diversity on the athletic department staff and within the academic faculty.

Basically those boosters wanted Nolan to shut up and coach. He refused to back down. Nolan was right and they were wrong.

But for every mistake Frank made he made about a hundred correct decisions.

Q. @tannerHOG says: I need to know Coach Sam Pittman’s middle name for child naming purposes … anyone know it? Mike Irwin?
I have 5 girls and we’re expecting our first son in November.. his name will absolutely be something Razorback related!!

A. I looked all over the Internet for coach Pittman’s middle name but it was nowhere to be found. So I was going to ask him at today’s press conference but Coach beat me to it.

Here was his response on Twitter to tannerhog’s request:

My fathers name was Don so I’m Samuel Don. That would be such a great honor. GoHogs!

So now we know. With that revelation some are now suggesting that Coach Pittman be known from now on as “The Don.”

I don’t think that will stick.

He’s already said in a press conference that the media does not have to address him as Coach Pittman. He’s fine being called Sam and he will call us by our first names. The most down to Earth head coach I’ve covered for sure.

Q. BloodRedHog is back. He says: Mike …it’s prediction time.

What will be the final score of the Rice game?

A. Rice is supposedly a grind it out kind of team. Ball control offense and all that. That might keep the score down from some of the crazy fan predictions I’ve seen. 55-20. 48-24. Stuff like that.

I believe in this defense. I’ll go Arkansas 28-7.

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