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Five Keys to Beating Arkansas – From the Bird’s Nest

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Louisiana opens the 2013 season this Saturday in Fayetteville against the University of Arkansas.

As I’ve mentioned, it’s not the ideal opener, given Arkansas has a totally new coaching staff and no matter how you try to prepare, the bottom line is no one knows exactly what the Razorbacks are going to do, especially on offense.

I’ve said repeatedly, that this is not an unwinnable game.  But having said that, the Cajuns have to do a lot of things right if they’re going to get their first-ever win over a team from the Southeastern Conference.

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1.  THE RUNNING GAME HAS TO BE ‘ZO GOOD

While the Cajuns have tremendous depth at running back, Alonzo Harris is the key to the running game, especially against that huge Arkansas defensive front.  Harris needs to be the tough runner he’s been most of his career.  Those holes won’t always be big and yards after contact will be important.  There’s no one in that stable of running backs that’s better at that than ‘Zo.

2.  MAKE ARKANSAS BRING PEOPLE

If the Hogs are able to pressure Terrance Broadway with just their front four, it’s going to be a long afternoon for the Cajuns.  The offensive line, plus the tight ends and yes, the backs too, need to make sure it takes more than those huge guys up front to get pressure.  The more the Razorbacks need to blitz, the more things are going to open up for quick passes, and we know the Cajuns are very capable of getting yards after the catch.

3. MAKE ALLEN BEAT YOU

The Arkansas sophomore quarterback is making his second collegiate start.  And, while he’s talented, the fact remains he doesn’t have much game experience.  It’ll be easier said than done to slow Jonathan Williams and company, but the Cajuns’ defense has to do just that and put the game on Allen’s shoulders.  If he gets it done, shake his hand at the end of the game.  But the Cajuns cannot let Arkansas have continued success running the football.

4.  ADJUST, ADJUST, ADJUST

There are many things I like about Mark Hudspeth and his coaching staff.  And one of them is their ability to make in-game adjustments.  Their ability will never be more tested than it will be in this game.  Preparation, because of the new staff, has had to be broad.  Once the coaching staff sees what Arkansas is doing offensively and defensively, they’ve got to act—quickly.

5.  FLIP THE FIELD

The kicking game is important in every game, but in what could be a close game, field position could mean everything.  The Cajuns HAVE to be better in the return game than they were a year ago.  They have to cover kicks better.  And, the punt game needs to be as good as Arkansas’, where kicker Zach Hocker has added punting duties to his placekicking.  That means, in his collegiate debut, Daniel Cadona will, at crucial times,  be the most important guy on the field.  No pressure, mate.

The Cajuns will not be playing that Arkansas team that went 4-8 a year ago.  This team will be better focused and better coached right out of the box.  But if the Cajuns eliminate turnovers and do the things listed above, this could be one really happy ride home.

 

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