Summers Heads To Familiar Territory

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas offensive line coach Mike Summers put his family through this twice before, and Saturday won't be any easier for the native of Lexington, Ky.

Summers was part of Bobby Petrino's coaching staff at Louisville when the Cardinals beat their Bluegrass State rivals four straight seasons. Two of those victories took place in his hometown, and he expects just as much of the silent treatment this week as he experienced back then.
"I had a lot of family that wouldn't speak to me during those weeks. It put a hardship on my family for sure, particularly for my father-in-law," said Summers, whose wife is the daughter of legendary Kentucky basketball coach Joe B. Hall. "But they understand that I'm a coach and that I'm loyal. They support me wherever I'm at."
Summers doesn't doubt that the support could wane a bit on Saturday when Arkansas plays at Kentucky, though. After all, his entire family — on both sides — has rooted for the Wildcats, just as Summers has for most of his life.
This week, Summers admits, tugs at his emotions. Summers grew up in Lexington, attended Tates Creek High School and served as a graduate assistant at Kentucky from 1978-81. He married Kathy, his high school sweetheart, in the same church in Lexington where his daughter, Amy, got married this past summer.
He remembers sitting behind the Wildcats' bench for most of Hall and Kentucky's run to the 1978 national championship. It's a topic that could surface late this week when Summers goes on Hall and former Louisville basketball coach Denny Crum's statewide radio show.
"Those games that season dominated our lives," Summers said. "I was behind the bench most of that season. I was right behind the bench at the Final Four (where Kentucky beat Arkansas). Our whole family was engrossed with that season."
Making the week even more difficult for Summers is how he feels toward Hall.
"The best mentor a coach could have," Summers said of Hall. "I learned so much, about so many things. He is the best teacher you could have if you are going to be a coach. He was such a champion in the way he handled being a coach."
Surely using some of those lessons, Summers has helped the Arkansas offensive line steadily improve this season, and Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino has noticed the physical improvement. The offensive line's ability to keep quarterback Casey Dick from being sacked in Arkansas' 25-22 win last Saturday at Auburn thrilled Petrino.
But he said he was most pleased with the developing attitude and team chemistry of Summers' pupils.
"I think the thing that he understands is how you (have to) come together and the closeness that the (offensive line) has to have to be successful," Petrino said. "He does a great job of developing that on and off the field."
Redshirt freshman guard Grant Cook said Summers' ability to be intense and patient simultaneously has helped him and his fellow offensive linemen improve. The linemen no longer think on the field.
They hear the play called in the huddle, and they execute, exuding a newly found confidence they should bring with them to Summers' hometown.
"Early in the season, we weren't sure of ourselves," Cook said. "We're a lot faster, a lot more confident, and we owe a lot of that to coach (Summers)."

Offensive line coach Mike Summers, a Lexington, Ky., native, takes his Razorback linemen to his hometown this Saturday after their best effort this season. Arkansas is still tied for worst in the nation in sacks allowed with 21, but the Hogs didn't give up any in their 25-22 win last Saturday at Auburn.
Opponent Sacks Allowed Rushing Yards
Western Illinois 4 76
Louisiana-Monroe 4 183
Alabama 2 92
at Texas 7 11
Florida 4 141
at Auburn 0 188

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