Spring Play / No-Tack Scrimmage, Hog Sweep LSU and Vitello Hot Head
Q. Our first question is from St. Clair Hofman who wants to know: Why did Pittman skip the Red-White game in favor of a no tackle inside scrum. We fans are looking forward to a spring game.
A. The game was moved indoors because there was a possibility of a clarification in the forecast that morning and he didn’t want to take any chances on that. Media and players’ family members have been permitted to enter the indoor training ground.
As for the absence of the tackle, he didn’t want to hurt anyone and he is convinced that the tackle can be correctly simulated with the so-called “thump”.
A lot of training goes to this not only in spring but in fall training. In the past, it was often said that teams that tackled badly once the season started weren’t making enough live tackles in August camp.
Again, these days there is good evidence to suggest that live tackling can be limited in training without causing problems during matches.
I understand the fans are looking forward to the Red-White game, but winning games in the fall is the goal and if Sam Pittman wants to do it that way, I guess most fans agree.
Q. Spring scrimmage was on TV and hawg IQ says: It was hard to get a good read with ESPN doing so poorly on coverage. It was worse than luck. Nothing jumps with controlled scrums and it never does.
A. I agree with that without a live tackle, there’s not much for the fans to see. They have to imagine tackles that would have been broken. Hard bags that could have been made. But again, coaches can read this stuff and come away with a video to study through the summer. It is mainly for their benefit and not for the fans. I’m not a big fan of the traditional spring games anyway and I really think they’re overlooked by a lot of coaches these days.
Q. ThisTeetsTaken didn’t like the broadcast but got something out of it. He says: Drew Sanders is a STUD. We need some WRs to step in and open up. It’s so good to have Catalon back. OL looks great. The QBs weren’t impressive. Fairly boring show.
A. I was there in person and didn’t see the telecast, so I can’t comment on how boring it was. I agree with this assessment. Drew Sanders is a great physical and quick linebacker who could end up being a game-changer on defense. At one point he crossed the field and chased Malik Hornsby out of bounds before he could turn the corner. He had a bit of an angle on Hornsby but what he did was still a revelation.
Also, the O line is noticeably larger and not just one deep. The number two O line looked like it could step in and play without too much of a drop.
There were too many dropped passes and that’s why the QBs weren’t that impressive. I thought they handled it well and Malik Hornsby looked good as a receiver out of the slot.
Q. HotlantaHog asks: What is your too early prediction of how many wins this team is realistically likely to achieve?
A. You don’t want my prediction. I’m terrible with predictions. I said they would win six games last year. They won nine. If you want a number, I’ll go with eight. Why eight? The non-conference schedule is tougher and A&M will improve. Do not worry. I’m probably wrong.
Q. BloodRedHog: Why is the Razorback football team so disrespected by ESPN?
A. You’re referring to the preseason poll where they didn’t rank Arkansas but teams like Auburn do.
Their explanation is what I just mentioned. Arkansas’ schedule was tough last year. It will be more difficult this season. Don’t worry about ESPN predictions. They are worse than me.
Q. robs4516 says: I think we can all agree that there was more talent on the team during Morris’ tenure than the record showed. How do you feel about the level of talent when Pittman arrived compared to now? How close do you think we are to having next-level SEC talent?
A. Close. Recruitment is getting better every year and Pittman has shown he knows how to work the portal. I would say by 2024, Arkansas should have top-level SEC talent in all areas.
Q. Pigsfeat asks: Any word on how Jaden Rashada’s visit went? Curious minds want to know!
A. Apparently it went very well. He is the number 1 duel threat QB in the country. He said being from California he didn’t know what to expect coming to Arkansas, but the visit really opened his eyes to whether he could be comfortable here. He liked coaches. I spent time with Kendal Briles and was impressed. He said he planned to make a return visit before making his final decision.
Q. WizardofhOgZ says: With the new terms of Coach Pittman’s contract (per his comments in the post-scrimmage presser), it looks like he’s moved into ‘the Arkansas hotel’. He can leave whenever he wants… but he can never leave. What do you think of locking him up for the rest of his coaching career?
A. It certainly clarified a lot of questions. Pittman basically said it was a lifetime deal for him. He can be expelled but he cannot leave the ship for another school. He said it was his idea and it was done for recruiting. He wants the players he recruits to see that if they come to Arkansas, he’s not going to sign them and have them coached by someone else. I guess he’s going to get a big raise with salary adjustments built in based on longevity.
It’s reasonable if he has to completely remove other jobs from the table. It also means he was telling the truth when he said it was his last coaching job.
Q. In baseball where Razrpig256 says of Arkansas’ sweep of LSU: Talk of our demise has been greatly exaggerated. 11-4 is the same record we had in 15 games last year.
A. It shows how quickly things can change in a weekend in the SEC. Going into Thursday, the Hogs had a one-game lead in the West with three other teams. With LSU striking and how games two and three Arkansas struggled against Florida, an LSU series win seemed likely. Which could have dropped them into a two- or three-way tie. Instead, they now have a three-game lead in the West.
But remember that this can also change quickly. The schedule by the end of the regular season is getting tougher with A&M, Auburn and Alabama coming up. All three are tied for second behind Arkansas in the West.
Q. WooPig348 says: Tony Vitello hasn’t made a ton of friends within the Arkansas fanbase over the past year. What did you think of his expulsion and suspension last weekend?
A. I said last week that if he didn’t change his “Tennessee versus the rest of the SEC” approach, there would be problems. I didn’t see it coming so quickly. Apparently he got into it with the umps in the first game with Alabama that Tennessee lost. It continued the next day. In Game 2, the Tennessee pitching coach was ejected while arguing with the umpires after his starting pitcher was hit by a line drive. Vitello came out to discuss this ejection and he ended up getting thrown out too. He then struck the third base umpire in the chest. The NCAA intervened and handed him a four-game suspension.
Tennessee baseball fans stepped in to support him, accusing the umpire of having a quick trigger.
To me, that’s nonsense. Vitello better see this as a warning to change direction. If he doesn’t, he could end up undoing everything he’s built over the past few years and really hurt his career.
Q. Pudgepork wants to know: Did Vitello turn into that hot-headed cartoon character? I’m trying to figure out if he’s always been like this. How was he hired by DVH?
A. He was always a fiery guy, but Van Horn was there to calm him down. His main value was as a scout and there is no doubt that he changed the level of talent during his time here. Now that he’s in Tennessee, he’s still a great scout, but he has no one to filter his aggressive approach.
Q. There was quite a reaction to this from Arkansas fans all over social media. Mike, you have comments from other fans.
I do it. hoglady says: Tenner’s behavior impacts the whole atmosphere, the fans, both teams and the referees. It’s ridiculous. And it starts with Vitello / you have to understand that’s the kind of culture he wants.
Michelle McGhee says: These coaches are there to be role models and shape these young men. What kind of example does he set? I think he got away with it easily.
According to Sherrie Hicks Robinson: It’s getting a little too big for his pants.
and Marjorie Gerik adds: Vitello has a bad temper. Wish DVH had held it in a headlock last year reminiscent of Nolan Ryan vs. Robin Ventura back then! However, DVH has too much class.
Q. Swinefeld says: There has been a recent shift in the women’s basketball program, with an in-state alumna quitting basketball and an in-state alumna transferring to another school of the SEC. Is this just a normal upset or is there a concern within the program?
A. If I understand correctly, Elauna Eaton hit the gate because she saw herself as a short to mid-range jump player and she felt like she didn’t fit the three-point shooting philosophy of coach Mike Neighbors. As for Shasha Gofourth, she has a medical problem that led her to give up basketball. Eaton’s transfer is normal, especially with the ease of transfer these days. Gofourth’s situation is rare but has nothing to do with how the program is run. Under the program, I don’t think there is a concern. Some fans are worried. The Arkansas women need to have a good season next year. Be more competitive in the SEC and win a game or two in the NCAA Tournament.
Q. Alex4Hogs88 has our last question. He says: I died laughing when you bagged A&M and LSU in the last Q&A session. What are the worst football stadiums you’ve been to over the years? What facilities do they just need to take a wrecking ball to?
A. The wrecking ball is too dramatic. Vandy could use a few improvements. Reminds me of Razorback Stadium in the 70s.
It’s subjective on my part, but I never liked the location of Williams-Bryce Stadium, South Carolina. It’s far from campus. It’s near the train tracks in what looks like an industrial area. It is surrounded by large car parks which may be fine for fans but the place has no character. The tailgate of fans in railway carriages. I guess that’s cool but it seems weird to me.
I’ve also said many times that Missouri has a really weird football stadium. It sits in a ravine next to a highway with five lanes on two sides. The campus is across one of these highways. We’re talking about college football. Why wouldn’t you want to have your stadium on campus?