Q. Our first question is from T.L. Slaten who wants to know: Did our defense look better because we got a lot of our hurt players back or is Auburn’s offense that bad?
A. A combination of the two. Auburn is 10th out of the 14 SEC teams in total offense, ahead of Vandy, A&M, Mizzou and Kentucky. But obviously getting those injured D-Backs back on the field helped because Odom got away from that 3 man front and committed more guys to stopping the run and going after the QB. Arkansas held Auburn to just 183 yards rushing, about 40 yards below their per game average.
Take away big two runs Auburn had just before the half and the total would have been just over a hundred yards.
Arkansas also sacked Robby Ashford three times.
However the Tigers did throw for 285 yards and that’s the problem Odom has had all along. If he commits to attack the QB and stop the run his secondary is exposed more.
Auburn scored three touchdowns but that last one was a giveaway because Sam Pittman put his number two defense on the field with the game already won.
Without that score Arkansas held Auburn to a touchdown in the first half and one in the second half plus two field goals.
Not bad at all.
Q. Jason Silver on Facebook says: My wife says I’m spoiled because I wasn’t giddy over Arkansas breaking the losing streak to Auburn. I say they played a sloppy game with too many penalties, a fumble and almost a disaster on special teams. They weren’t focused.
A. I think the early problems were a result of taking the bye week off with just a little game prep. Auburn had the same issues and they were also coming off a bye week.
One turnover in a game is not terrible but what was nearly a muffed catch on a punt was almost a repeat of what happened against Mississippi State on a kickoff so two different players had a brain freeze on special teams in those two games. That is concerning.
As for you being selfish, you’re a fan and free to react to what you see and how you interpret it.
Q. mousetown asks: What did you think of Pittman’s halftime adjustment of going back to the running game?
A. It worked so I guess he did the right thing. Arkansas had a lot of success throwing the ball against BYU and Kendal Briles probably got a little too carried away with that to start the Auburn game.
But the Hogs had more success throwing than running it in the first half. To me, they got in the locker-room and Rocket Sanders didn’t want any part of Tank Bigsby outrushing him so Rocket came out and the second half and took it too Auburn. I’m sure Pittman also challenged the offensive line at halftime.
But Arkansas also had good success throwing the ball in the second half. As I keep saying, a good mix of both is what keeps the chains moving but also it’s not just a pass play or running play. It’s the specific plays called and in a certain sequence.
It’s all about out-guessing the opposing defense. Call the play that they don’t expect.
Q. Tenlo Ten says: It was a great win but it wasn’t a curse. Our players are starting to believe and playing the game with more passion. Quit respecting the other team’s jersey and start to respect ours more. Great win and great coaching.
A. I agree it wasn’t a curse but when an early Auburn fumble was confirmed as not a fumble after the replay but an Arkansas fumble was ruled a fumble after the replay, I’m sure a lot of Arkansas fans continued to believe that the refs were a curse.
But all in all it was a well refereed game and if Arkansas broke a curse it’s because it played better than Auburn.
I do agree with you that part of the difference between now and the Bielema/Morris years is, the players believe more in themselves and that Arkansas jersey but also they have better coaches top to bottom.
I do think Bielema was always a good coach but he let some things go to his head at Arkansas and got away from some of the things that made gave him successful in the 2014, 15 &16 seasons.
Q. Eric Lawrence Touchstone is not so happy. He says: Way to go, beating the worst team in the SEC besides Vandy.
A. Actually, Auburn, Texas A&M and Florida are all tied for next the last in the SEC with 1-4 records. Missouri is just above that at 2-3 along with four other teams but Auburn did beat Missouri. However, if winning that game is not big deal to you, so be it.
Q. Slobberslob says: I want to whine about special teams again. Dude lined up two or 3 yards into the neutral zone on the on side kick that Pool returned. It seems to me that just about every game there is a snafu on special teams. what has to be done to fix this? Or, maybe, I’m just whining.
A. It’s a legitimate complaint. I do think coaching special teams is one of the most difficult coaching jobs there is. There’s so much that can go wrong and it’s not like you get your pick of the best athletes. Special teams coaches don’t always get to use the best players. We don’t see KJ, Rocket, the starting receivers, linemen and D-Backs on special teams. Some starters may participate but most don’t.
The concern I have is the brain freezes we’ve seen lately on kickoff returns and punt returns.
A.J. Green blew a kickoff return against Mississippi State. The Hogs ended up on their own one yard line.
Against Auburn punt retuner Bryce Stephens almost touched a punt inside the Arkansas five. The ball missed his finger by less and an inch. If he had touched it, it would have been a disaster.
Q. About the Hoop Hogs 30 point loss to Texas in Austin, Justin Freeman wants to know: What happened?? What were we lacking? Poor defense or bad offense??
A. According to Muss, both. I think he knew this was coming. I think he scheduled this game to expose his team to some things it needs to work on.
If you look at the playing time of some of the starters, like Anthony Black and Trevon Brazile for instance. Way less than you’d figure.
I’m not saying Muss tried to lose it but I do think that once he saw the way his guys were getting outworked and being pushed around he said, Let it happen. I can use all of this as a great teaching tool.
Q. Most fans took the loss in stride. Jesse Miller says: Just like last year and the year before, this team will need some time to gel. Muss will get it going.
A. Yes, and the great majority of fans seem to have this attitude based on the reaction on social media. They understand how this man coaches and they see where he’s going with these guys.
Q. Mr. Jones, a customer at the Stadium Shoppe, wants to know:
Hogs basketball record? Is it Final 4 or bust?
A. I’m terrible at this but I’ll go 29-6.
Final 4 or bust? With some fans yes, because that’s the way they think. Others will be okay as long as this team gets deep into the tournament again.
Q. Edwardclutch wants to know: What is your opinion on Hogs Plus? Ole Miss and A&M have a weekly show that delivers way more content and is free. They even air on one of the ESPN Channels constantly which has to help them with recruiting. For paid content 15 to 17 minute shows every week is really disappointing.
A. The stuff I’ve seen from them is very good. A quality product. They get behind the scenes access that the rest of us don’t get and for that you’re going to have to pay. The athletic department doesn’t produce that. It’s done by a private entity and when you hire an outside source to provide exclusive content, those people don’t work for free. So if you want it, you have to pay for it.
If Ole Miss and A&M are providing that for free, they’re losing money on it. If they’re willing to do that to help recruiting that’s their call. But you seem to be suggesting that Arkansas should give that content for free. That’s not my call.
The bottom line, it’s either worth the 10 bucks a month to you or it’s not.
But again, the content is very well done.
Q. Marty Byrde’s proxy asks: What’s up… literally with football pants these days? Granted the old knee “pads” did little to protect the knee. Maybe cushion when a player went to the ground knee first. But now pants have evolved to being completely above the knee. Just a trend? Do any rules govern this?
A. Yes it’s a trend. It is legal but I don’t think it should be. With all this talk about rules for player safety, targeting and all that, there’s not enough emphasis on research into player safety with regard to equipment. Not just helmets either. Whatever happened to rib pads? Kidney pads? They didn’t look cool or feel good so they went out of style.
Once it gets established, I think the new governing body of college football should fund a research division into equipment and the protection of players.
Entire seasons can be ruined for teams with injuries to certain players. There’s no way to make football totally safe but more can be done.
All you have to do is look at the changes in safety equipment for Formula I racing and NASCAR to know that deaths and injuries have been greatly reduced in those sports.
College football is not nearly as dangerous as auto racing but equipment changes to better protect players from injuries should be a priority.
Q. Lanny says: The Aggies are officially at the bottom of the SEC West with Auburn after their fans bragged all summer that they were going to win the West. Bryan Harsin got fired. What about Jimbo?
A. Jimbo is safe for now. His buyout is $95.6 million while Auburn only owes Harsin $15 million. I’ve always thought Auburn was nuts for the way they’re always firing coaches but clearly the Aggies are way nuttier. That or they just have more money than they know what to do with.
Fisher will be told to fire a bunch of his coaches. He’ll be given a huge budget to buy the best assistants he can bring in. Money is no object in College Station.
Q. Tim Tee No says:
It seems like, every pre-season for a lot of our teams, they’re ranked really high, but when the season actually starts, we fall very quickly and don’t perform up to expectations. Why is that? Is it coaching, or is it just hype that we’re not awful at sports again?
A. This is a head scratcher. Awful at sports again? Arkansas has one of the most successful athletic programs in the country right now.
Last year football was high in the polls early, dropped and went back up. This season could very well be a repeat of that.
The same for basketball. Two straight years they’ve started high, dropped and gone back up. Two straight Elite Eight appearances is not awful at sports.
The baseball team stayed number one in the country for almost the entire 2021 regular season. Last year they started high, dropped and finished high. Third at the College World Series is a long way from being awful at sports.
Q. BloodRedHog wants to know: Why do you use an Android phone and not an iPhone?
A. Years ago I had a Nokia phone. It wore out and a friend had a Galaxy 7 edge. He liked it so I tried it and liked it. I had that phone for 5 years before it wore out. I switched to a Galaxy 22-S and I like it.
It’s what I’m used to. Plus I don’t want an iPhone because I’m not a Lebron James fan who is an iPhone pitch man for AT&T. If Jaylin Williams ever becomes a spokesman for AT&T and the iPhone I’ll switch. How’s that?