Arkansas Football Three Keys: Portland State

Three-keys-Arkansas

Arkansas faces Portland State on Saturday in Fayetteville. Here are your three keys to a Arkansas win over Portland State.

By Matt Zemek

The Arkansas Razorbacks had a terrible 2018 season. Yes, it was a transitional year for first-year head coach Chad Morris, but even that fact doesn’t justify or excuse some of the losses the Razorbacks absorbed. They blew a hefty lead against Colorado State, and the season never truly improved – not for any sustained period of time, at any rate. The Hogs’ offense played genuinely well for much of the game against Alabama and its suspect defense (which got torched by Clemson in the national championship game), and Arkansas had a few other brief moments of brilliance, but the story of the season was that Arkansas could not get both sides of the ball to play reasonably well for a long enough period of time.

It didn’t seem that Arkansas had a woefully deficient roster in each of its games. Both sides of the ball (mostly the offense) played halves of games, at different points during the season, which suggested that the Razorbacks could be something close to a .500 team. Fans could watch this team play in 15- or 20-minute pockets and think that Morris was on the cusp of developing a decent team.

Those pockets of good play were spectacularly undone, however, with grand implosions and wholesale collapses which unfolded over multiple quarters. Arkansas encountered way too many Saturdays last season in which a reasonably competitive game spun wildly out of control, and the Hogs could not gain equilibrium ever again.

This was a team which unraveled far too often in 2018. This leads into the three short keys for Portland State in Week 1:

Key 1 – Show An Ability To Course Correct

Against a team such as Portland State, the specific X and O matchups are not as paramount as they will be against SEC opponents. Therefore, the keys in this game are broad principles and concepts more than anything in particular about the Vikings. Start here: Arkansas was terrible at making adjustments within the (negative) flow of games. The Hogs need to show they can do precisely that. We will all know what that looks like. Stop negative momentum. Do on the next play or drive what was not achieved on the previous play or drive.

Key 2 – Defensive Assignments

When Vanderbilt – forget Alabama or LSU – takes advantage of a defense with the same plays over and over again, it’s clear a defense is not tending to details and is not cohesive. Arkansas needs to demonstrate that against Portland State. Giving up a big play one time will happen. Giving up a big play again and again on the same play or a similar range of plays CANNOT happen. Arkansas needs to communicate with far more clarity on defense.

Key 3 – Get Stronger Later

Arkansas might blow this game out of the water in the first half. No matter. The Razorbacks wore down late in games and lost strength in fourth quarters last season. This fourth quarter, even with backups, needs to be played with supreme force and aggression. The plays might be simpler, but the attitude must remain tough.

Saturday‘s game kicks off at 3:00 PM CT (4:00 PM ET). Watch on the SEC network.

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Georgia State vs. TennesseeGSUTennesseePreviewGS 38, TENN 30STATS
Duke vs. AlabamaDukeAlabamaPreviewALA 42, DUKE 3STATS
Portland State vs. ArkansasPortland StateArkansasPreviewARK 20, PSU 13STATS
Oregon vs. AuburnOregonAuburnPreviewAUB 27, OR 21STATS
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Missouri vs. WyomingWyomingMizzouPreviewWYO 37, MIZ 31STATS
Georgia vs. VanderbiltVandy / UGAVandy / UGAPreviewUGA 30, VU 6STATS
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