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Hayden Fry likes to think that part of his team's success can be ascribed to the fact that he has "put his coaching shoes back on," after riding around the workout field in a golf buggy and standing on his tower for two years. He may be right. Despite an obvious lack of team speed—the kind Arkansas has—SMU possesses that intangible something that enables a team to win.
Texas A&M's flurry of success was more fun for Texas' football hordes than SMU's, primarily because the Aggies are always the fall guys for the conference jokes. People like to incite A&M riots by telling about the Aggie who lost $10 watching a touchdown run on television and $20 on the instant replay. And it is easy for a visitor to learn why A&M had to close its library: somebody stole its book. A&M is a grim-looking military school. Placed on probation during Bryant's days there, it is on probation again because Coach Gene Stallings, a Bryant pupil, ran 40 players off his team and ordered more football in P.E. classes than P.E. It possibly could go into deeper probation for recruiting.
But coming to the Arkansas game, the Aggies had looked good. They had flogged Texas Tech (38-14), TCU (35-7) and Baylor (17-13). Their young players were revved up, old Aggies were crawling out of their county agent's offices and Stallings was Bryant reincarnate. Afterward, they realized the truth. " Arkansas," said Stallings, "is what a football team is supposed to look like."
It sure is now, for several big reasons: Quarterback Jon Brittenum has condescended to run the ball, thus taking the pressure off Halfback Harry Jones and the passing game; the Razorbacks, after a stumbling start, have now had their usual midseason restorative, a 41-0 win over Wichita State; and the defense has jelled into the best Broyles has had.
Brittenum hates to run, admits it and had not run in six games. But he is fast, quick and tough, and against the surprised Aggies ran for 82 yards. "We finally decided Jon had to run," says Broyles. "Defenses were practically going to bed with Jones and covering our receivers. The threat of Jon's running opens it up for us."
When the A&M defense did not open up, Brittenum turned Jones loose or threw, once left-handed for an 11-yard completion. "He'd been wanting to throw one left-handed all season," Broyles laughed. "I'm glad he got the opportunity." Brittenum was racing to his left under a heavy Aggie rush, and just before he slid out of bounds he lofted the ball to sophomore Halfback David Dickey, who took it away from an A&M defender. "It was either that or eat it," said Jon simply.
Broyles attributes his team's disappointing early-season look to a couple of factors. First, he thought, defenses against the I formation were improving. Second, Arkansas' globs of success had aroused his opponents to superefforts. "Baylor, for example, played a fine game against us," he said, "and there was nothing we could do but take our lumps. But the two teams have changed character since then, haven't they?"
And there was something else. A&M's and SMU's sudden display of power had allowed Arkansas to start a new season in late October. In the past, with Texas out of the way, Broyles's teams have glided through November without a care or a problem, winning championships five out of eight years. Now, from a slightly different direction, comes what surely will be Broyles's sixth title in only nine years. The fun, in the Southwest, is over everywhere but in the Ozarks.