Keys to Victory: Week Four

Here are the keys to victory as seen by HI.com Publisher Clay Henry for the Hogs' date with the Vols.

I'll take a little different slant to the keys to victory for Arkansas' trip to Tennessee. To me, there are two main keys in this game, and both of them pertain more to the Hogs' mental outlook for this game than any individual matchups, or strategy.

 

I think the main key for this game is for the Hogs to play without putting pressure on themselves. Physically, the Hogs did better than most gave them credit against Alabama as far as the pure man-to-man matchups. The Hogs didn't get blown away by Bama's linemen as most might suspect. Instead, they were fooled on defense into stepping the wrong way or taking the wrong angles or steps, and then were out of position for the plays that gave up big chunks of yardage.

 

Part of the problem was anxiety. The Hogs had too many defenders trying to make big plays, and then over running the backs or missing the cutbacks after filling the holes.

 

Hence, the Hogs must be sound on defense, and to do that they must avoid the anxiety that seemed to exist last week against Alabama. Physically, the Hogs can play with Tennessee as long as they don't play so fast that they don't tackle well or over pursue the plays.

 

Tennessee will try to use Arkansas' speed and quickness and style of play to its advantage with traps and counters to establish a running game that hasn't really been a force in the Vols' first few games this season. If the Hogs can maintain their focus, control and tackle well, the Hogs should be in this game from start to finish.

 

Offensively, the Hogs must establish some balance, and that goes for its style of play and its mental focus. The Hogs had too many mental busts to be consistent against Alabama. There was no consistency in the passing game. The only true weapons against Bama came when the ball was in either the hands of Matt Jones or Cedric Cobbs. A big key Saturday will be how many times both Jones and Cobbs touch the ball.

 

The kicking game was solid last week against Alabama, and maybe even spectacular. The Hogs will need a similar performance on Saturday against the Vols.

 

Arkansas will have to remain calm in a tough environment before 110,000 Tennessee fans. I think that is another huge key and goes along with the thought at the outset of this commentary. After three games at home, this is the Hogs' first road game of the season. How they handle a new environment will be another big key Saturday.

 

The Hogs are healthy for the game. Marcus Whitmore, a force in special team cover units, will not play after sustaining a shoulder injury in practice. Offensive guard Mark Bokermann rolled an ankle on Wednesday, but seemed to be recovered when the team arrived in Knoxville. Tailback Fred Talley, with an ailing left wrist, could play if needed, but might be withheld from the game after suffering a sprain against Bama.

 

 


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