Talking football (and basketball) with SB Nation's Bluegrass outpost.
What better way to prepare for the Kentucky Game than some wisdom straight from the (race)horse's mouth. Many thanks to Glenn Logan at A Sea Of Blue for having a sense of humor while dropping some knowledge about the Wildcats.
Just how hot is Joker Phillips' seat presently, and how hot would it become following a loss to an Arkansas team led by John L. Smith? Please present answers in the form of a Scoville Heat Unit (SHU).
If Phillips were to get canned, what names are being bandied about as his replacement? I swear to God, if you say Gruden, you can forget it BECAUSE HE IS OURS. HE WEARS RED TIES ON TELEVISION. IT'S A SIGN.
We have a list of about 40 candidates including Gruden, Knute Rockne, Bear Bryant, Herman Boone, and even John Calipari. Hey, he's good at coaching basketball, you know and, well, we're desperate.
I have it on good authority that Bobby Petrino despises the University of Kentucky, but Bobby Petrino is a brilliant, beautiful football whore. Kentucky fans are well acquainted with him. Could UK Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart pull off that hire? If so, would Wildcat fans welcome the coach who humiliated them so much?
I personally loathe Bobby Petrino with every fiber of my immortal soul. Well, that may be a slight exaggeration, but he's just too much of a reflexive liar for me to ever support his hire except under contract conditions he'd never agree to. So I guess you'd say the feeling is more or less mutual.
Many Kentucky fans are not as discriminating as I, and could care less if Petrino and the truth are total strangers, as long as he wins. Did I mention we are desperate? Nobody should know better than you how desperate it would be for us to hire such a walking, talking ethics contradiction.
Jalen Whitlow will be our quarterback. He is a true freshman with a good arm, great feet, and less understanding of college football than 12-year old Sheryl Yost (Hayden Panettiere) in Remember The Titans. If he figures it out against you guys, you're in for a long day. He is very talented, although he's expected to move to another position (H-back or wide receiver) next year.
No, you may not have Morgan Newton unless you injure Whitlow, at which point the Big Blue Nation will descend upon Fayetteville with weapons drawn. We've had enough hurt QBs to last us a lifetime, and if we get another one, somebody's gonna die.
Describe the Wildcat offense in one word.
Under Maxwell Smith, it was very competitive with any in the SEC. Under Morgan Newton it was ... I can't believe it -- there is no word in the English vocabulary to describe that degree of futility. I'd have to resort to the Black Speech of Mordor, which I shall not utter here. So I'll keep it simple and say, "awful."
Under Whitlow, it has fluctuated between barely competent and ineffective. But don't count on that, Whitlow is getting better at this, as young players do. And our offensive line has been competent, so he'll have a chance to throw.
Now, describe it in more than one word. Any noteworthy formations or philosophies? What players should Razorback fans pay attention to when Kentucky has the football?
Under Whitlow, the offense looks nothing like it did under Smith. The offense under Smith was very much similar to a non-spread version of the Hal Mumme Air Raid, which is to say a lot of short passes to every receiver, plenty of bubble screens, and just enough runs to keep the defense honest. It was designed to get our athletes the ball in space.
Under Whitlow, it is a simplified, dumbed-down version of a West-coast offense. The only notable characteristic is that we run a lot of no-huddle, and don't run very often on the edges. Maybe they'll trot out more of it on Saturday, but I'm not counting on it.
How about the Kentucky's defense? Any individual players or schemes that may give Arkansas trouble? With an inexperienced offensive line and the top two fullbacks on the depth chart injured, pass protection has been an issue the entire season.
Our defense has been awful in almost every respect. We can't stop the run, and our secondary is all freshmen. We have been able to get to the quarterback sometimes, and our young corners are improving, but they still have a long way to go. Avery Williamson and Bud DuPree will be the tackling machines they have been all year, and if Martavius Neloms gets a chance, he will send somebody to the locker room with a well-rung bell. We have two huge 300-plus lbs bulls on the line in Mister Cobble and Donte Rumph, but they have not been able to get off blocks.
Attendance at Commonwealth Stadium for last week's contest against Mississippi State was atrocious. True or false that Friday's Big Blue Madness basketball practice will outdraw one of Kentucky's remaining home football games?
Big Blue Madness will be very close to the same draw as the rest of our football games, unless we defeat you. Then, it may get a little better.
Speaking of basketball, what kind of an impact is expected from Arkansan Archie Goodwin in his freshman season as a Wildcat?
He is going to be great at Kentucky, and I expect him to be a high draft pick in the NBA Draft next year. He's an outstanding player and will be a major part of our 9th NCAA Championship. Well, that last is just pure bravado, but with the football season we're having, it represents pent-up frustration more than anything else.
What is the general feel of Wildcat Nation regarding Mike Anderson and the direction of the Razorback basketball program under his brief leadership? Are Wildcat fans paying attention, or are the Hogs (deservedly) still well under the radar?
I think Mike Anderson is a fine coach and Arkansas should be among the top teams in the SEC next year. The Hogs are not really under the radar, but right now, UK is focused on the big prize, which is a high seed in the NCAA Tournament. UK and Arkansas should be a very good game this year. Hopefully, Nerlens Noel will be eligible well before then.
Back to football to finish. Will Kentucky be the worst team that Arkansas faces all season? Conversely, will Arkansas be the worst team that Kentucky faces all season? What does the realistic possibility of a "yes" answer to both mean? It has to mean something really bad, right?
Based on current performance, UK is very likely the worst FBS team you will face this season. But beware, we do have talent -- we are simply too young and too banged up to be any good.
To your second question, probably not. I don't think Kent St. or Western is really better than Arkansas. But if I did have to answer yes, I'd have to ask if it might not be better just to spare the patrons the horror and flip a coin for the victory. We'll take tails.
Last question. How do you see this football game playing out on Saturday? Stars? Goats? What will the radio shows be discussing come Monday?
I have no idea whatsoever. Both teams have struggled, but Arkansas is at least theoretically much better and much more experienced. The fact that you have sucked against inferior competition is the only thing that gives us any hope at all.
The radio shows will probably be talking Midnight/Big Blue Madness, and trying to figure out who the next respective head coaches will be.