When a fumble is Not a Fumble, Part II, What Do the Refs See in That Box & Will K.J. be a Heisman Candidate in 2022 ?

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This and More in This Week's Ask Mike

Q. Our first question this week comes from “The Hawk” Hawkins who says: I accept your explanation last week of why our defense is having problems. We’ve faced three really good run pass quarterbacks but there have to be other factors.

A. Injuries. Jalen Catalon has been playing hurt since the A&M game. Now he’s out for the season. Most of the defense is beat up one way or another right now. Sam Pittman needs to rest his starters this week in practice and get them out of the UAPB game as early as possible and let everybody rest the open date week. I promise you, that defense will look better if he does that. And hopefully they’ve faced the last Bo Nix/ Matt Corral run/pass QB types.

If would also help if this team would start getting a few good breaks instead of bad breaks. Like not playing 11 am games and your punt returner is not staring straight into the sun. That KJ Jefferson fumble for an Auburn TD was the biggest play in the game and it happened because of the horrible field position created when Nathan Parodi lost the ball in the sun on the Auburn punt.

Then there are the officiating issues Arkansas continues to be hit with. Is that ever going to turn around? I have to wonder.

Q. hobhog wants to know: Is there an unwritten rule for how many times a team plays the 11 am early game? I know TV rules sports these days but it sure seems Hogs getting 3 in a row (so far) is something that never happens to others. More “SEC love” or is it out of the conference’s control?

A. It’s mostly the TV guys. If you’re a hot matchup like Arkansas and Texas was then you can get the CBS 2:30 slot. But CBS and ESPN are also  jockeying for good matchups to lead off their slate of games each Saturday. CBS knew that Arkansas/Auburn was an attractive draw. Not as big as Georgia/Kentucky or Tennessee/Ole Miss but good for a lead off game.

But it’s happening again. The UAPB game in Little Rock is an SEC Network game with an 11 AM kickoff. But honestly I think Sam Pittman is fine with it in this case. Come in early. Go home early. Get your players into open date mode as soon as possible but I have to believe that Hunter Yurachek is bending Greg Sankey’s ear about Arkansas’ kickoff times for the Mississippi State and Missouri games.
No more 11 am kickoffs at home. Enough is enough.

Q: Kevin asks: When is enough enough of the bs calls that seems to go against us, especially against auburn? That was a fumble and total game changer in the first half. That was blatant and their reason/excuse was a lie. I guess we just take the 40 million dollar SEC check and say thank you. May I have another?

A. SEC officials keep coming up with rules interpretations that we’ve never heard of. Remember the infamous, “The fumble recovery was not part of a continuous football action so it’s not a fumble,” mumbo jumbo from last year?

This time it was, “The player was lifted into the air on a tackle so forward moment ceased before the fumble.” What? So anytime a defender grabs a ball carrier and lifts him off his feet forward momentum immediately stops and the play is dead?

I feel like Arkansas fans need a complete copy of the college football rules book by their side during every game so they can figure out what’s going on.

But in answer to your question, Yes. You take the money and say, “Thank you. Maybe we have another?” Because that’s what being in the SEC is all about. The money. And anyone who thinks the SEC treats all of its member institutions equally is delusional. The bias is worse that anything that ever happened in the old SWC.

Q. Semper_a_Hog asks: Can you PLEASE explain what constitutes pass interference and what does not? This seems to be the most subjective call in the game. Sometimes the slightest touch is called, other times the defender is holding the arm of the receiver and it’s not called. Makes no sense to me.

A. It’s highly subjective and varies greatly from official to official. The play you’re referring to, first off all, did not look like pass interference. But the official in question clearly could not see where the ball went. The rules expert that CBS had in the both during the game correctly pointed out that other officials around him should have stepped in and explained that the pass was uncatchable. Just another screw up by a horrible crew of SEC refs.

Q. PorkSoda wants to know: When is the SEC going to mandate eye exams to the replay officials? How can they look at the same replay as everyone else and see something completely different?

A. I’m starting to believe that they’re not looking at what TV viewers see. There was a 3rd down tackle in the Georgia/Kentucky game where the Georgia ball carrier clearly came down a foot short of the line to gain but was awarded first down when the ball was spotted. Mark Stoops called time out and requested a review. They must have looked at the replay 15 times. It took several minutes. I’m wondering what’s the ref looking at in that box? Cartoons?

The latest episode of Blue Bloods?

A replay from another game?

After all that time, Georgia was still awarded the first down. As far as I’m concerned there is no value in video reviews. Go back to the old way. The call on the field is the only call.

Q. Alex4Hogs88 asks: If you had the power to do so, how would you change/improve the gameday atmosphere at DWRRS to get the crowd more fired up? We had a great great crowd today for a 11am kickoff but it just wasn’t electric like it could be.

A. I think what you’re referring to has to do with a continued hangover from the Bielema/ Morris years. You can come up with all kinds of ways to get fans more into the spirit of a game but the bottom line, it’s going to take more than winning 6 or 7 games a year. They’re gonna need a sustained improvement. Something like what went on in the 60s. 70s & 80’s and that’s gonna be tough in the SEC. I’m not saying Sam Pittman can’t do it but it won’t happen overnight like some were hoping it would.

Until this program is winning 9 games a year and challenging for an SEC West title you’re gonna have big games where there’s lots of excitement like the Texas game this season but we’re talking once maybe twice a season for an atmosphere like that

Q: Hogapalooza wants to know: Was anyone hurt in the fall that we haven’t had, but will have the last part of the season who should make an impact? Who has been recently sidelined because of injury but we should get back soon. And who is out for the season that the depth chart can’t replace on paper?

A. Yes. Hudson Henry. He played against Auburn and caught two passes, one of them for 19 yards. Tight end is a critical area of need for this team with Blake Kern not having the kind of season they’d hoped. Sam Pittman said in his Monday presser that Henry will play a key role in the offense moving forward.

Dalton Wagner, the starting right tackle, is expected back soon. Maybe we’ll see him after the open date week.

The same thing with defensive tackle Markell Utsey. Likely back after next week’s open date.

Jalen Catalon is out for the year with shoulder surgery scheduled. Catalon is eligible for the NFL draft next spring but Pittman said on Monday he expects Jalen back next season. That is the biggest injury of the season. He’s been hurt since this three game losing streak started. He played against Georgia and Ole Miss but was not himself.

Q. Sho Nuff says: The improvement that we’ve seen in our program over the last 2 years is absolutely remarkable. I know that recruiting has been solid, but we are losing a LOT from this year’s squad. What is your biggest area of concern for the 2022 Hogs?

A. Linebacker. Hopefully Bumper Pool will decide to use his super Senior year because Grant Morgan and Hayden Henry have no eligibility left after this season.

They’re also gonna take a hit in the D-Line. Utsey and Tre Williams are both gone.
John Ridgeway is a senior but could come back. If he doesn’t that’s all three starters gone.

On the O-line Myron Cunningham and Ty Clary will have to be replaced.

I expect the coaches to work the transfer portal to fill at least a few of these losses. In the SEC experienced guys in the trenches is essential.

Q. WizardofhOgZ says: The 5 minutes you spent on the Hogs going to the Cotton Bowl this season were nice…except for one thing. You forgot that the Cotton Bowl is part of the CFP this season; it will host a semi-final game. Hogs not going to Dallas this season.

A. I plead guilty. It’s one of those things where you overlook the obvious. I went to a website and checked out all the possible SEC bowl tie ins. Obviously the Cotton Bowl is one, but I totally forget to check if this was a year where the Cotton Bowl rotated into the playoff system. So good catch. You got me.

But even if the Cotton Bowl wasn’t in the playoff rotation this year, Arkansas would not be going there. I think they’re gonna have four losses minimum. This could end up being another Liberty Bowl/ Texas bowl season. Not ideal but when you haven’t been to a bowl in five years, it’ll do.

Q. Dr. Strangepork asks: Why is it that rare 5-star Arkansas signees seldom pan out? They either have a mediocre career, get injured or just leave. I’m sure there has been a 5-star that played as advertised but he would be the exception.

A. You pretty much laid it out.

Arkansas has had a five star that didn’t have five-star ability at the college level.

They had one one who was injured a lot.

They had one that left because of a lot of off the field drama.

I’ve had people tell me that D-Mac was a four-star. If he was, the star people were nuts. He panned out big time as a Heisman runner up for two straight years and really should have won it at least once.

I say keep, trying to land those five-stars. They may not all pan out but it sure hasn’t hurt Alabama and Georgia.

Q. PatBoat wants to know: After seeing guys like Rocket, D.J. and A.J. playing, what happened to Spivey? Was he not an SEC back?

A. He was only at Arkansas for his freshman year. Didn’t play a lot. Got suspended right before the infamous western Kentucky game. He hit the portal after the season was over. My impression was that he did not have the talent we see in the current group of backs but under Chad Morris the team morale was so bad it’s hard to know.

Q. BigHoggard asks: With KJ’s outstanding statistical game against Mississippi when he out performed Matt Corral in every individual stat and counting on his continued improvement this year, do you think he might have gotten his name amongst the whispers for Heisman hopeful next year?

A. A minor detail but Corral did have a few more yards rushing than KJ but yes, if he continues to develop and lives up to his Cam Newton-like billing I could see him in the Heisman conversation but I don’t see Arkansas having the kind of season he’d need to win it. Hopefully I’m wrong about that.

Q. @mousetown wants to know: Do you have any funny UAPB stories?

A. Not any stories that I was a part of because the two teams will meet for the first time on Saturday.

I do remember the wild and crazy days of UAPB and head coach Archie “Gunslinger” Cooley. By all accounts he was a very innovative coach but he was plagued by what the NAIA said were dozens of eligibility violations at the school. I seem to remember a story that his team allegedly played two games in one weekend. I don’t think there’s any danger of that this weekend.

In 1990 UAPB got a two year ban from football, the so called death penalty. It was reduced to one year on appeal and Cooley resigned.

Those days are long gone. It will be interesting to see what kind of crowd this game will draw in Little Rock for an 11 AM kickoff. UAPB is 1-5 on the season. Its only win came against Lane College.

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