State of the Hogs: Kevin Scanlon

Kevin Scanlon sees some of Lou Holtz in the way Bobby Petrino prepares quarterbacks. Scanlon was the speaker at the NWA Touchdown Club.

There may not be a lot of similarity between what Kevin Scanlon did in 1979 to what Tyler Wilson does in a Bobby Petrino offense in 2011.

Scanlon passed for 1,212 yards for the season. Add to that another 248 yards on 120 runs and you have his total offense of 1,460, tops in the Southwest Conference. Scanlon was the league's player of the year in a 10-1 regular season.

But when Scanlon looks back, he said what Lou Holtz put on him and what Petrino puts on Wilson is remarkably alike. Never mind that Wilson passed for 510 in one game.

"We just didn't get that many plays in 1979," Scanlon said. "It's hardly fair to even compare the two. Tyler is going to throw 400 times. I got 139. We might get 50 in a game and now there are 70, 80 or more."

But he said the challenge for Wilson is no different than what he heard from Holtz.

"You just have to figure out how to win games," Scanlon told the Northwest Arkansas Touchdown Club on Wednesday. "I think there are a lot of parallels to what we did that year to what they are doing this season."

Scanlon told of the rally against Baylor from a 17-0 deficit early in the third quarter. That's the game he threw three of his six interceptions on the season. He recalled the instructions he received in front of the team after he had been sacked on the first two plays of the second half.

"Coach Holtz had these rules about playing quarterback," he said. "He would stop you in the hallway, anywhere he saw you and ask you. It was about the things you couldn't do."

Obviously, one concerned throwing interceptions. "He grabbed my shirt and said, ‘Scanlon, you know all of those rules? Forget every one of them and go help your team win.' It was a great comeback and we won 29-20. I needed to hear that from him."

Scanlon has seen a Petrino practice and knows it's a tough mental grind. He said Holtz was the same way.

"Both put so much pressure on the quarterback," he said. "Coach Holtz figured out what each quarterback could do and found a way to win.

"I see Coach Petrino doing the same thing with Tyler Wilson. He's completely different from Ryan Mallett. They are running the same offense, but doing different things. Tyler is different and I see all the arm angles and the accuracy.

"When I was there, he took a running quarterback, Ron Calcagni, and made him an adequate passer. I had legs that had four surgeries and I was a passer, but he demanded I run enough to be effective. He took each of us and molded us into what he needed. So both coaches adapt."

Scanlon set the UA accuracy record at 66 percent. Scanlon said he used to ask Holtz if he could throw it a little more.

"Coach Holtz has told me that he only needed 10 completions per game to win," Scanlon said. "He said if I had been less accurate I would have gotten more chances to get the 10."

Scanlon was fascinated with the ESPN special Depth Chart. He thought the relationship between quarterback coach Garrick McGee and Wilson matched what he had with Don Breaux in 1979.

"Coach Breaux was a comforting presence," Scanlon said. "Coach Holtz was so tough and demanding. Coach Breaux said it has to be ‘in and out.' That meant not letting it stay between the ears long. Holtz was tough. Petrino is the same way and Coach McGee is good for Tyler."

Scanlon was going to his second Petrino practice after the QB club meeting. He said he did feel welcome at his first.

"I was coming up to be inducted into the Hall of Honor that weekend," Scanlon said of the visit two years ago. "Coach Petrino called to invite me to come out to practice. I told him I would. I was on the drive up that day and he called my cell phone. He said, ‘Are you coming out.' I promised him I would."

Petrino spotted Scanlon on the sideline and waved him to the back of the huddle.

"He stuck out his hand and said, ‘Good to see you,'" Scanlon said. "And he turned back around and that was it. I understood. It was game week. That's the way Coach Petrino is during game week. He's very focused. Coach Holtz was the same way.

"I think Coach Petrino is teaching life lessons, just like Coach Holtz did with me. He's teaching how to react in tough situations. You are going to have adversity and tough things in life. Players who play for him will be ready."

They just need to be ready to throw more passes.

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