Poise. It’s what often separates the winners and losers in sports and in life. Those who maintain it thrive under most any circumstance. Those who don’t generally crumble beneath the pressure.
Poise will be a major factor for the Razorbacks this weekend as Arkansas makes its first trip to the northeast since 1940 to face Rutgers on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. on ESPN.
It starts with travel. It sounds simple, but it’s not. I’ve come to believe over the years that you can tell a lot about a team by the way they travel. Body language. Attention to detail. The way they carry themselves and interact with those they encounter. It doesn’t always tell the entire story, but it does set a tone for the trip. Show me a team that struggles to pack the right equipment or forgets an ID or leaves a cluttered plane, and I’ll show you a team that’s probably going to lose. Winning teams act like it every day.
Poise will certainly be an issue when the game begins. It will be noisy. A near sellout is expected, and Bret Bielema had noises piped into practice this week. There will be many new players who will play before a hostile crowd for the first time as Razorbacks. All the talk of brotherhood will be tested. An us-against-the-world mentality must take over, and the ability to overcome adversity must win the day.
I like the mental toughness of this team. It’s a reflection of their head coach and his staff. They’ve drilled it into the heads of this team since their arrival, and now it’s time to show their stuff.
There’s not a better feeling than getting on that plane after winning in someone else’s stadium. It’s a feeling this team needs to get to know. Poise is where it starts.