Keys to Victory: Troy State

Arkansas goes for victory number five this week against Troy State. Here are some ideas on what has to happen for the Hogs to triumph.

This one is so different than the last few games we've played, and that's the way it should be. It's a nonconference game.

I don't know if the team can have a lot of emotion after the last few weeks. I don't know how they could have any emotion left. However, I do think playing in Little Rock will provide some lift. Most of the players like to play in the Rock, as they call it, and will be excited, especially the guys from that area and from East Arkansas. They'll have far more family there than for a Fayetteville game. So, one of the big keys will be to play with great effort, even if the emotion isn't there in full force. I think they will accomplish this goal.

As always, with Arkansas, turnover ratio will be the biggest key in the game. It always is with Arkansas. One of the reasons is that we don't have the wealth of talent to just dominate a team when we make mistakes. We must play error free. Fortunately, through most of the Houston Nutt era ... as with Frank Broyles, Lou Holtz and Ken Hatfield ... we do play without a lot of turnovers. The Hogs must be in the plus column against Troy to have the kind of game that most want, and that's a comfortable victory.

The running game will be another huge key. Arkansas has been able to run the ball comfortably against everyone except Alabama. Troy is equipped to cause the Hogs trouble in this area. The Trojans are tough against the run and are extremely good at defensive end. This means the Hogs should try to pound inside. If they can run for over 250 yards, they should win comfortably, but no one has really done that against the Trojans this season.

Can the Hogs find some kind of passing game? They haven't done that much this year because of a lack of pass protection. They must do a better job of protecting the quarterback and that will not be easy because of the rush the Trojans get with their defensive ends. Can the Hogs handle Troy's ends in pass protection. That will be a key that I watch throughout the game.

The special teams have been feast or famine of late. They contributed heavily to a loss and a victory in the last two outings. I'm looking for consistency there this week. Troy's special teams have been solid, but not spectacular. They will be a decent test in that regard.

This is more of a key to the rest of the season, than this week, but I'll throw it in anyway. A big key will be how the Hogs do in the injury front during a game it hopes to win without expending too much energy. Can the Hogs get some players on the field who have not done much this year, especially on defense. If they can get some time for Scott Summers, James Johnson, Wes Murphy, Pierre Brown and other backups on defense, it will serve them well down the stretch when injuries should begin to take their toll on this defense.

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