"We're outgunned, and undermanned. But you know sumpin'? We're gonna win. You know why? Superior attitude. Superior state of mind." – Mason Storm, Hard to Kill
Hard to Kill is more than Steven Seagal's greatest contribution to film. It's a cinematic tome from which we can all extract the deepest life lessons. In fact, you can apply the inspirational quotes from Hard to Kill to nearly any insurmountable task. In this case, I've applied Hard to Kill to Arkansas State's opening game of the football season: A-State at USC.
"This is for my wife. F**k you and die!"
In 2012, the Red Wolves played its first game against the PAC-12 with a visit to Oregon. The Ducks and freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota opened the game by scoring a touchdown in one minute, thirty-six seconds. Chip Kelly salted the wound by punching it in for a two-point conversion. That's cold, Chip. And now the PAC-12 has got to pay. (Sorry USC.)
"How does it feel to know that you're about to die?"
When asked by a smirking Dan Patrick why USC scheduled a home opener with Arkansas State, Coach Sarkisian could have said, "Arkansas State is a solid program and we anticipate a good game for us and our fans." Instead, he opted for the low road.
"I didn't schedule that game." (Shares a chuckle with Dan Patrick) "I'll say this, our first two games before we play Stanford are really good for our football team, we're very young and we're going to have to play a lot of true freshmen so we're going to have a chance to rotate a lot of guys early in the season."
Listen, Coach Sarkisian. I know we're the Group of Five and you probably didn't think we had the advanced technology to intercept such a condescending commit but luckily our AOL account is still active and we managed to catch you on the YouTube. Thanks for the bulletin board material, though. See you in September.
"Oh I know what you're thinking. Mine's bigger than yours. It's not fair."
The glaring weakness for A-State in 2014 was the defensive line. Injuries left the squad undermanned and underweight, and opponents took advantage by running all over the Red Wolves. This off season, Coach Blake Anderson and staff shored up the D by packing on the pounds, adding JUCO beef Jake Swalley and Waylon Roberson, UAB transfer Robert Mondie, and focusing on defensive depth through recruiting. Meanwhile, the returning starters are healthy, including Sack Monster Ja'Von Rolland-Jones. USC has an experience starting offensive line, but the Red Wolves heavies are hungry for Trojan.
"He said, 'Why you come to me' and I say, 'Ah, to learn how to fight.' And he's like, 'Oh, so you wanna hurt people, but you wanna be great.' I say, "Yeah, I wanna be great.'"
Games aren't always determined by quarterbacks, but A-State vs. USC might. After all, the game features the best from each of its respective conferences. Look at the stats between USC's Cody Kessler and A-State's Fredi Knighten.
Kessler is clearly the superior passing threat while Knighten is obviously the better runner. Knighten is a former Parade All-American who studied under the great Ryan Aplin and Adam Kennedy before leading the Red Wolves to victory over Ball State in the 2014 GoDaddy Bowl. His excellent 2014 season was rewarded by a snub from Phil Steele, and now Fredi is even hungrier for greatness. Beating USC is just business.
"I'm gonna take you to the bank, Senator Trent. The blood bank!"
There's a lot of sand and moxie in that line (especially in the cocky way Steve delivers it)! You know what else has sand and moxie? Sun Belt Heat! While USC may bring its storied history, five-star recruits, millionaire coaches, and exceedingly attractive cheerleaders to the Colosseum, the Red Wolves will be bringing the Sun Belt Heat.
And with positive attitude, positive state-of-mind, Sun Belt Heat is all we need.