It’s hard to not get a little nostalgic with the Aggies in town for the weekend. They haven’t been here since 1990, and won’t be for a while given that the series moves back to Arlington next year. Seems like the Hogs always played the Aggies in November back in the SWC days, and there generally was something on the line.
One of my most vivid memories of youth is sitting in the south end zone of a cold, gray War Memorial Stadium in December of 1975. The Aggies were ranked #2 nationally, and boasted a host of future NFLers, most notably Lester ‘The Molester" Hayes, who went on to star in the NFL as a defensive back with some of the great Oakland Raider teams. Arkansas was a heavy underdog that day, as they will be tomorrow night. But the defense came to play and held the Aggies scoreless for the first two quarters. Just before halftime, Scott Bull lofted a pass into the back of the north end zone, and Tepy Barnes hauled it in to give the Hogs the lead going into the locker room. Frank Broyles would dub his receiver from Lepanto "The Immortal Tepy Barnes" later that night, a moniker that still sticks with us old timers today. The Razorbacks dominated the second half and blew out the Aggies 31-6, clinching what would turn out to be Frank Broyles’ last trip to the Cotton Bowl as the Hogs’ coach.
Perhaps the best games between Arkansas and A&M came in the late 80s, when the Ken Hatfield coached Razorbacks and the RC Slocum led Aggies staged some battles for the ages. Quinn Grovey led the offense, and guys like Wayne Martin and Steve Atwater led the Hog defense. The A&M "Wrecking Crew" defense was as good as there was in college football. Those were classic battles that propelled Arkansas to back-to-back SWC Championships.
The Razorbacks plan then and now is to control the football. Apparently the only way to stop Johnny Manziel is to keep him off the field. The only way to do that is to control the football.&The offensive line&may be most critical area in the game tomorrow night. The Hogs best chance is to "keep pounding the rock", as running backs coach Joel Thomas put it. The Aggie defense is very young in critical spots, and that has shown through four games. If the Razorback offensive line can somehow fashion its best effort of the season, Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams WILL be able to run the ball and whoever is quarterbacking will be have a chance to throw off play action. It’s not a terribly complicated formula to figure, but one that is very difficult to execute for four quarters.
And it goes without saying Arkansas must win the battle of special teams. The kickers and punters are fine, but the special teams battle can turn on a return or a blocked punt or a trick play.
Bring a raincoat. You’ll probably need it at some point Saturday. It probably would favor the underdog, too.
Should be a great weekend to Call the Hogs!