State of the Hogs: Keys to victory (LSU edition)

Here’s this week’s Keys to Victory. Maybe there are a few things to think about here: … -lsu-game/

Best line of the article: If you’re going to keep score, you want to win. You don’t want to finish last.

There is a lot on the line for CBB and Long in these last 3 games. Not to mention in the classroom. Hope springs eternal for a Hog fan.

Thanks Clay.

I was taught to win at a young age. My dad preached winning. Now, you better not bring home anything but As on the report card. But he competed fiercely in everything he did and that was taught to me early on.

He taught winning to my daughters, both of them. My youngest said GrandpaO played her in gin rummy for a solid week when we left her one summer on vacation. He played her penny a point. She never won a hand. She was down $28 when we picked her up. She said, “We have a gambling debt with GrandpaO.” He taught her how to count cards at age 7. She learned. I don’t think anyone should play her in gin now. She will kick your butt and then tell you that GranpaO would be proud. Win, baby, win.

My dad also taught my daughters how to play dominoes and count points. It was math lessons. But it was also a lesson in how to win. He said if you keep count, you should try to win. And, play fiercely. He was a fierce competitor at golf, too. He did not like to lose.

So I will never say it’s not about winning. It is.

We want a Team of Winners. We want players who know what it feels like to win. Most of the current players came from winning High School programs. But, our juniors and seniors may have forgotten what winning feels like. I don’t believe they walk out every Saturday expecting to win. Anytime you have a winner, you also have a loser. And, the more you lose, the more you forget what it feels like to win. Someone once told me that you don’t remember an event. You remember the last memory you had of it. As memories fade, the energy it takes to summon those positive feelings also fades. At some point, people live up to expectations and right now, the expectations seem low. I’ll be in Baton Rouge. I’m expecting the Hogs to compete. I can’t say that I’m expecting them to win. Until they show that they have that spirit to fight, every down, every second, then my expectations are tempered.

Well said. Here’s hoping you have a magnificent experience.

I’m going to be honest. I usually don’t read the “10 Keys” columns each week.

Not because they aren’t well written (they are) or informative; but because 10 is (IMO) too many; at least most weeks.

Sure - there are dozens if not hundreds of things that could be discussed due to all of the potential match-ups of offensive sets, defensive schemes, and the players who populate them on both sides. But, from a macro view, usually it boils down to 2 or 3 things - that you can predict. Obviously, if one team or another chooses a particular game to have 6 or 7 turnovers (as Texas did in 1981 when they came to Fayetteville), or an unsung RB pops for over 200 yards (as Roland Sales did in the 1978 Orange Bowl), usually all of the “predictable” factors end up not mattering.

So, many things CAN matter; but usually, the winning difference is going to come down (primarily) to one (or more) of just 2 or 3 things.

That said, I did read this week’s column, and I’m glad I did. Because this week, it’s not JUST about the two teams on the field. Oh, that’s the way the players need to think - they don’t need any more outside distractions. It’s all between the white lines for them, as it should be.

But there are other factors layered over and around this game, and I thought that Clay did a very good job of interlacing them with the X’s and O’s stuff. Clay may disagree with me . . . and/or, he may not even be aware of it, consciously . . . but I thought this was written with a tone you rarely see from his pen (keyboard). Much more sober and, I’d even go so far as to say, somewhat irritated. There’s a no-nonsense, unvarnished feel to his comments about Bielema’s tenure and program identity that reflects the frustration felt and vented in posts made here by his subscribers.

To be honest, I enjoyed the “preamble” portion of the column more than the 10 points discussed afterward. That’s the kind of “no sunshine/no thundercloud” analysis and perspective Razorback fans rarely have access to.


As to the “keys” to the LSU game, I’d mention four - three “major” and one that may come into play IF the other 3 pan out favorably.

I’d agree that physicality is a major factor. It has almost always been in this particular series, and is - frankly - the reason Arkansas has fared as well as it has in this series. True - LSU leads over the last 20 years or so. But it has generally been conceded that they’ve had a LOT more talent than Arkansas for almost all of those games. Yet, the Razorbacks have played LSU close when the didn’t beat them outright almost every time. Physicality is the reason.

Defense is most likely THE key in this year’s game. Specifically, Arkansas’ defense. If Arkansas cannot limit LSU to something like 24 or 27 points, Arkansas has NO chance in this game. If LSU methodically runs the ball and plays keep-away (Bielema’s winning formula), the Razorbacks will certainly lose. And, probably, by 20 points or more.

However, if somehow, some way, the Arkansas defense can keep the Tigers from making several long, time consuming drives, I do believe that the offense can score 2 or 3 TD’s and make a game out of it. Again, IF the offense is not trying to dig out of an ever-bigger hole, as has usually been the case all season.

That gets me to the 3rd of the MAJOR keys to this game - no surprise here: Arkansas’ offensive line. As everyone knows, it’s been a problem all year. LSU’s defensive front is talented and deep - as usual. It won’t matter too much if LSU’s offense is grinding the Hogs’ defense up; but if that doesn’t happen, the O line MUST have it’s best game for Arkansas to compete.

The “and 1” factor I’ll add is QB play. IF Arkansas can keep LSU from choking them to death with long offensive drives, and IF the Arkansas O line can win their share of battles with LSU’s D line, then it will be interesting to see if Allen or Kelly can make the plays needed to score with the Tigers. QB play is always “A” key. But it won’t matter all that much in this one if the first three keys go LSU’s way.

I believe I came up with LSU, 38 to 17 in the prediction thread, and that still sounds right to me. Here’s hoping I’m wrong!

Aloha Clay,

I thought this article was your most honest and best article of the season. It echoed my thoughts exactly about CBB and his program. I have mostly withheld from commenting for the past year because of my incredible disappointment over CBB and the program. As you well know, I was expecting a breakout year in 2016. Matt Jones kindly attempted to temper my enthusiasm with warnings about the UA’s OL. Oh how time has proved him correct!
Warning lights and sirens went off in my head when Auburn routed the Hogs in 2016. Something was wrong with CBB and his program to suffer such a loss in year four of his program. It was a significant step back. It was a college version of Pearl Harbor. A total surprise attack with devastating results. Thus I was not surprised how the Hogs folded during the last two games of their 2016 season.
CBB promised a total review of the program from top to bottom. I didn’t fall for the preseason hype this season. I’m not surprised at all by the Hogs lack of success. There are some serious flaws in CBB and his program and they have materialized in full bloom. He has displayed an inability to either properly identify his problems and/ or make the appropriate changes/ corrections. Including the selection and loss of his assistant coaches. Losing Partridge (msp?), Chaney and Pittman appear to be the beginning of the end of CBB’s helm at UA. CBB has yet to recover from the loss of those superlative coaches. CBB has lost his identity as a football coach and his reputation of physical football and dominating the LOS has evaporated.
I don’t envy JL. He is facing the greatest challenge of his career right now with CBB and the college football program.