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With the early losses against ULM, Alabama, Rutgers, and A&M thoughts are brought back to times when the Hogs have struggled in the past. It was 1963 and Arkansas had just come off of a 9-2 season that was oh so close to winning their first national championship. With star running back Lance Alworth, and the Hog's only quarterback to ever be selected as All American - Billy Moore, the Hogs were now picked pre-season to win the SWC and ended up with a dismal 5-5 for the season.
On the plane ride from Dallas after the SMU loss (7-14) in the next to last game of the season, quarterback Freddie Marshall and end Jerry Lamb approached Broyles. The season had been weighing heavily on both the team and the coaching staff. This had now reached a boiling point. It was a point where, during their discussion, they mentioned that the team was embarrassed and wanted to begin scrimmaging the following Monday in preparation for their final game of the season against Texas Tech. This was something new. It was widely known that a Broyles’s team had never scrimmaged during in-season, but worked on assignments in order to keep the team fresh and injury free. Monday came and, along with it, so did the scrimmage.
The team had shown a commitment to winning that had been missing throughout the season. They wanted to win, but wanting was not enough. It had now become an obsession. The now famous 22 straight, lasting for two years, began in 1963 with this game against Texas Tech. After the season the commitment by the seniors was continued with their return after Christmas with a new reason for winning. It would no longer be for individual goals and fame, but for a total emphasis on the team. For with this group of seniors, they were going to make it happen. And everyone knows what happened next in 1964.
There was no more focus on being NFL players first, no distractions of "being an army of one", no more being "the best that you can be", or any other B.S. It was now a total focus for TEAM. Putting the individual first became a thing of the past. No longer was it about just showing up for practice, no more just X's and O's. Practices were grueling. They verged on inhumane, and unusual cruelty. It was brutal, and the ones that were left when the dust cleared were now ready for the upcoming season. Coaches didn't just go along with the common offenses, or defenses. It was a time of imagination. It was a time to win the National Championship. It was nearly fifty years ago.
Broyles knew he didn't have the largest team in the nation. He knew that if he lined up to try and play them one on one, he would not have any advantage. His O and D lines were built on SPEED. He knew speed kills. And sure enough they did. It is a game of few fundamentals: run with the ball, throw it and catch it, block, and tackle and in '64 they could do it all with the best of them.
Against Alabama this year, we tried to line up against their dominating size and were shown that we had no advantage in that department (although this was not the only factor leading to the loss). When you realize that size is not your advantage, you look to other features that can replace size. Otherwise, you are destined that only the largest team can win the games. Holtz used speed and motivation (commitment as a TEAM) against #2 Oklahoma in the 1978 Orange Bowl to completely dominate the game and annihilate Oklahoma. Arkansas has used it numerous times to defeat a much favored, much larger Texas Longhorn team. It's the commitment by all of the players AND coaches to not just show up at practices and go through the motions, but use imagination to find these advantages and not count on size alone.
Charles H. Duell (the head of the U.S. Patent Office in 1899) said "Everything that can be invented, has been invented". He was wrong then and wrong now. Taking a step further - every offense and/or defense that can be invented has not yet been invented. It's time that the Hog coaches do some inventing of their own.
This is supposed to be a blog about the Hog football program history, and in some ways it is, but it is also about its future, and as everyone knows history repeats itself. Broyles did it in '64, Bezdek did it 55 years earlier in 1909, and now it's time that the Hogs recommit and do it again.
Join us again next month when we will get back on track with some not so recent tales of Razorback football history.