RazorAlex88 wants to know: Is it justifiable to be upset about being swept by Georgia? Losing one – fine. Losing 2 and the series – not ideal. Losing all 3 (and might I add in embarrassing fashion) – just plain maddening considering Georgia is not even in the top 3-4 of the SEC East!
A. Georgia is much better than their record indicates. The SEC East is loaded with tough teams and Georgia ran in a buzz saw early on. They caught Arkansas in a bad situation with injuries that continue to mount. It was also one of those things where everything went right for Georgia. Little things decided two of those three games.
Keep an eye on Georgia this weekend. Let’s see what they do with the momentum they now have traveling to Oxford to face an Ole Miss team that is dead last in the SEC West. We’ll also see how Arkansas does back at home against a Texas A&M team that just went to Lexington and took two of three from Kentucky.
Q. Lonnie Romans asks: What is going on with Peyton Stovall? His batting average has dropped to .260. He was 1-13 against Georgia. This guy turned down big money to play college baseball. Was he overrated coming out of HS?
A. He started slow last year and was Arkansas best hitter in the post season. Got them to Omaha. He missed a couple of big doubles in the Georgia series with liners that were just foul. He’s not striking out. He’s just hitting the ball foul or right to opponents. He’ll break out of this. Maybe this weekend against the Aggies.
Q. Eddy Lynn on Facebook says: I’m tired of hearing about the injured pitchers. How about the ones who’ve gone backwards this season? Like Will McEntire. He was solid last year. This season he’s all over the map. Great one week. Bad the next.
A. You make a good point. I’ve mentioned this before. Will McEntire, Zack Morris and Austin Ledbetter have seen their ERAs go way up this season. McEntire is up to 5.88 after a 2.59 last season. Morris has gone from a 2.31 to almost eight. Ledbetter was at 2.84 last season. Right now he’s at 7.17.
Morris and Ledbetter are pitching very little these days, but McEntire is your game two starter. His big issue is home runs. He gave up just 4 all of last season. He’s at 15 right now and we’ve got a lot games left. So yes, it’s not just injuries. It’s that those three have gone backwards this season which is why DVH is pitching three freshmen this season in critical situations.
Q. liljo asks: How would you grade out the overall spring camp this year, especially considering all the new faces?
A. I’d give KJ a B plus. I want to see more of him in this new offense. The two backups are a vast improvement over Malik Hornsby. Jacolby Criswell will play some this season even if KJ Jefferson is healthy all season and Malachi Singleton is a much better passer than I realized. He’ll take off and run with the ball. More of a speed QB as opposed to KJ who’s a power runner.
The running backs are a real plus and that hasn’t changed.
The receiving corps is almost all new. Isaiah Sategna redshirted last year. He has a really good spring and caught an eye opening TD bomb from Jefferson. The two transfers, Isaac Te’ Slaa and Andrew Armstrong and tall receivers with good hands. They look good right now but they’ve got to do it an SEC game. Sam Mbake I really like him. He’s a little bit under the radar right now but I think he will have a breakout season.
The defense look really good. I love the extra heat we saw from the D-ends. They caused all of the quarterbacks some issues. The linebackers been the strength of the defense for back to back seasons. Guys like Grant Morgan, Bumper Pool and Drew Sanders are gone. Chris Paul Jr. is solid but there are so many new faces is the linebacker positions, like the receivers, I want to see what they can do in an SEC game.
Finally, the secondary. There’s a lot of talent and a lot of depth there. Under a new defensive coordinator and two new coaches in the secondary, I think we’re gonna see the D-Backs become a strength, not a weakness.
Q. S-glies says: The Internet isn’t always a bad thing. I think those people put so much pressure on Briles and Odom that they wanted out. Now look. Recruiting is going through the roof and there’s a whole new energy from this staff. Pittman should thank those fans.
A. There’s no question that Sam Pittman made the best of that situation but I don’t think either one of those coaches left because of Internet complaints. I think Odom wanted to be a head coach again and he got a good offer. I hope he gets it going at UNLV. Briles is from the Ft. Worth area so it’s a going back home thing for him. TCU is coming off a really good year so he left. The question you’re hinting at is, should Pittman have told them to leave? Maybe. The fact is he didn’t but any question Arkansas fans had about his ability to make he right hires at the coordinator positions were put to rest. He got heavily criticized by those same fans that you are praising because they thought he was going to screw up those hires. They were wrong.
I thought Pittman showed all of us that he knows what he’s doing in making staff hires because, as you put it, there’s a whole new energy coming out of that football program right now.
Q. Hawgredneck says: Last week you said you were really high on Landon Rogers as a receiver. This week he hit the portal. What happened?
A. I’m still high on him. I guess I should have talked to Otis. He said he’d heard a couple of weeks ago that a transfer was in the picture for Rogers. At one time Sam Pittman was singing this kid’s praises and then it was like he disappeared. He left on his own. I think he knew he wasn’t going to be in the rotation at receiver. Good luck to him wherever he ends up. I think the young man is a talented athlete
Q. Hud Windom says: I see where Pitt is bringing in another tight end out of the portal. I was starting to get worried. We have some talent there but very little experience.
A. You are right about that. Luke Hasz and Shamar Easter are both highly regarded freshmen but Arkansas needs at least one tight end who has been there, done that, in games. Var’Keyes Gumms was all conference last season catching 34 passes for 458 yards and five touchdowns. Dan Enos’ offense makes heavy use of the tight end. Gumms will allow the current tight ends time to develop without the pressure of stepping up before they are ready. Could Pittman still add another tight end? Otis says it’s not likely. The priorities are at center, the D-Line and the secondary.
Q. Mousetown asks: Do you think that Muss is waiting to see if Devo and Walsh come back or is he already working behind the scenes to replace them? I can’t see him sitting around until the end of May to see what they are doing.
A. I’m pretty sure that he will take both of them back if that’s what they decide. The portal commits face a deadline to sign their grant in aid papers before the NBA deadline to pull out. So if all the portal commits enroll at Arkansas and Devo and Walsh decide to come back, somebody else would have to go. Who would that be? I’d say it would be one or both of the freshmen from last season but that’s a guess. I’m not in Mussleman’s head.
Q. The Hawk Hawkins says: With all these portal guys coming in do you really think Ford and Pinion will get to play next season? I’m worried that recruiting is turning into one-and-done’s plus transfers. Freshmen that stick around don’t develop.
A. It will be interesting to see. I have a feeling that Muss will still go after one and done recruits but not three of them like last year. We won’t know until we get into next season but I could see Baye Fall and Laydon Blocker coming back after their freshmen seasons.
We’ve seen with Davis just how important it is to have guys who have developed in your system. That’s what Nate Oats did at Alabama last season to compliment his freshmen. But unless the rules change Muss is going to continue to rebuild through the portal. He’s really good at it.
Q. Lanny wants to know: Who was the toughest Razorback to interview, any sport?
A. When I first started my career in the mid 70s a lot of athletes were uncomfortable doing TV interviews. Some would flat refuse. Others would stumble around. I never tried to force a player to go on TV. It was up to them. Steve Little was one of the most difficult to get in front of a camera. Not because he was uncomfortable but because he didn’t like talking about being a kicker. Little had been a very good high school quarterback and he was frustrated that Frank Broyles, who recruited him, would not give him a shot at playing there for fear of getting him hurt. Steve accepted that but he sort of had a, Yeah, I’m the kicker, so what?… attitude. He would basically say nothing usable so I quickly gave up trying. If I needed to do a story about Steve Little I’d talk to the coaches about him or to his teammates.
Q. Alice Mango says: You and Courtney seem to have good chemistry doing Ask Mike. Is that real or is it one of those fake-it-for-the-camera deals?
Courtney has a good sense of humor which is necessary to work around me. She’s a detail oriented person. I don’t care about details so it’s good to have her with me when I get a name wrong or whatever.
When I first started doing Ask Mike it was just me. I hated that. Having a co-host to ask questions and make comments is essential. I wouldn’t do it any other way.