Looking Back on 2012 to Look Forward
Before my freshman year of college, I had never been to a football game. Two years later, I’m still debating if I made the right decision when I chose my first game. My first football game was the 2010 match-up between Arkansas and Alabama.
Though my first football game ended in heartache, the lessons still resonate.
In preparation for Arkansas’ Southeastern Conference opener against Alabama Saturday, the 2010 game is especially important to remember.
First, we must recognize that Alabama’s program has only grown stronger since 2010, when they lost the Iron Bowl and the SEC West to Auburn, and Arkansas’ program hasn’t shown vast improvement.
A David and Goliath win is always possible if the cards fall in the right place, as Razorback coaches, players and fans alike learned last week when Arkansas was upset by the University of Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks. However, a Razorback win against the Crimson Tide is almost on par with a miracle.
Second, fans have to trust the team. In 2010, the fans came to Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium in full force, yelling loudly. Students had rally towels provided by ASG. After upwards of three days of camping, the atmosphere was electric.
The Razorbacks need that turn out again. It’s really energizing when fans rally behind the home team, but the situation is reversed if fans don’t show their support. The Tide will get the energy boost instead of the Razorbacks.
Third, there needs to be an emphasis on the running game.
In 2010, the Razorbacks led the Tide 20-7 in the third quarter. Alabama came back to win the game 24-20, after scoring 14 unanswered points in the last 16 minutes of the game.
The Razorbacks had a comfortable lead, but two fourth quarter interceptions by Ryan Mallett dashed Arkansas’ hopes of an upset.
When you have a 13-point lead, it’s prime time to run the football. It’s not like Arkansas had a poor run game in 2010, either. Knile Davis wasn’t hurt, so it wasn’t like head coach Bobby Petrino or offensive coordinator Garrick McGee had to run two-yard Broderick Green.
But they chose to rely on the pass. Pressure in the pocket and effective coverage by the Tide resulted in the two interceptions that changed the outcome of the game.
Interim head coach John L. Smith and offensive coordinator Paul Petrino need to put an emphasis on the run, especially with the status of Tyler Wilson up in the air. Even if Wilson does play, which will be announced Friday, an emphasis on the run isn’t a bad decision.
Lastly, the Razorbacks need to come to play and remain in that mindset for the entire game.
This year against both Jacksonville State and ULM, the Razorbacks did not start strong, ending both starting offensive drives on a fumble and an interception, respectively. Those mistakes can’t happen against Alabama.
The Razorbacks can’t give up in the second half, either. Arkansas allowed Alabama to come back late in the game in 2010 and ULM to come back late in the game last week.
Kristen Coppola is the sports editor for The Arkansas Traveler. Follow the sports section on Twitter @UATravSports.