The Arkansas at LSU Live Blog powered by Jim Harris is here. The stage is set. It is Razorback game day as the Hogs take on the Tigers in Baton Rouge. This is the last time for the annual final-game-of-the-season skirmish between these two schools. And the Golden Boot is on the line.
Hit refresh often throughout the game to keep up with Jim’s latest comments, thoughts and analysis; and feel free to add your own in the comments section below.
Join us today as Jim Harris tracks the action from the field. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. and will be televised nationally on CBS. The Battle of the Boot! Let’s do this.
5:12 p.m. 31-27 LSU, final — Arkansas finds a way to blow the last two games of the season. The Hogs blew it last week in Little Rock when Alex Collins fumbled inside the 10 yard line as the Hogs were going in for the winning touchdown, and they did it again in Baton Rouge today with about as bad a fold-up as you can have. The offense went totally conservative to protect a 6- and then a 3-point lead and had two three-and-outs on offense that gave LSU chances. But, to allow a team with a freshman quarterback in for the starter to drive 99 yards for the go-ahead score is unacceptable.
This is as much on the players as it is on the coaches who put them in a bad position in which they couldn’t succeed. It’s likely the correct pass defense called for Jared Collins to have help from the safety on the deep pass from Jennings to Dural too, but the safety just stood there. In fact, I only saw the other safety, strong safety Alan Turner, making plays on the back line for Arkansas today.
We’ll look back on this more next week on this site after we get a look at everything and hear the comments, but while Arkansas was seriously lacking in players, the scheme Arkansas employed on the back line left a lot to be desired. Designed to keep everything on front of the defensive backs and stop plays in front of them, it did neither — teams took short passes and broke them for long gains, or they threw over a confused secondary. It was just awful and summed up perfectly on that final series. In fact, that was the gut punch of all gut punches this season, and it had a lot beginning with Rutgers’ come from behind win.
Arkansas, which didn’t have a freshman backup in but a third-year sophomore who had to cover about 80-yards in 1:15, couldn’t get much after a first-down completion to Hunter Henry on its last series. Fittingly, quarterback Brandon Allen was rushed heavily, caught and then fumbled the ball to LSU to end all doubt. Allen was able today to complete short passes that helped open up the running game, and Arkansas outplayed LSU for 57 minutes. But the conservative calling on both sides against a vastly superior team in talent was the undoing.
5:05 p.m. 31-27 LSU – I don’t know how Arkansas manages to do it, but the Hogs again blow it in pass converage and it will basically cost them the game. Arkansas let LSU drive off its 1 yard line with a freshman backup quarterback. Kinda like last week, losing to a freshman quarterback who shouldn’t have been able to make that play.
But Travin Dural just blew right past little Jared Collins and was open by 10 yards, taking in a 49-yard pass from Anthony Jennings for the LSU touchdown with 1:15 to play. LSU had already called its last time out. You keep every guy in front of you. Also, Arkansas’s defensive brain trust allowed the Tigers to drive from their 1 to a touchdown with under 3 minutes to play and with more than a minute to spare. If Arkansas had Ryan Mallett and Joe Adams, I’d give the Hogs a chance to answer, but not this time.
4:57 p.m. — What an incredible punt by Sam Irwin-Hill and a bad play by Jarvis Landry as the return man in place of Odell Beckham Jr. Arkansas downs the punt on the LSU 1.
4:50 p.m. 27-24 Arkansas — The Hogs survive a little, yielding a field goal to Colby Delahoussaye from 37 yards after Mettenberger’s backup, Anthony Jennings, can’t move the Tigers closer. A false-start penalty on Jennings’ first snap was huge. Only 4:56 remains. A couple of first downs would be big, obviously.
4:46 p.m. — Mettenberger is helped off the field by the training staff. Freshman Anthony Jennings is the backup.
4:43 p.m. — Wow, Jarvis Landry just made a certain ESPN Top 10 play of the day on a deep pass from Zach Mettenberger. Arkansas’ freshman corner, D.J. Dean, appeared to have the ball in his hands at first and Landry, going over Dean, took the ball away with one hand and made the reception as he tumbled to the turf. LSU is in scoring position at the Hogs 20, a 32-yard play.
The bad news for LSU is that Zach Mettenberger is down, apparently twisting his knee after a hit by Arkansas lineman Byran Jones and having his own man also fall on him.
4:39 p.m. — Arkansas runs it three plays into the gut and comes up about a yard short of a first down. Hogs have to punt it away. LSU will take over with half the quarter left to play at the Tigers 34.
4:35 p.m. — 27-21 Arkansas — Big stop by Jarrett Lake, probably the best he’s looked in pass coverage all year, to stop Jeremy Hill a yard short of the stake on fourth-and-2, and Arkansas takes over the ball at its 16. LSU pounded and pounded and ate up nearly six minutes of the clock but Arkansas gets out of there with the ball.
Now, the Arkansas offense needs to eat up time AND score on this drive, if nothing but a field goal then that is fine.
4:15 p.m. — 27-21 Arkansas, end of third quarter — LSU is obviously turning to its power ground game as the third quarter comes to an end. Jeremy Hill, a bulldozer with speed, just smacked into Alan Turner at the end of a carry for a first down as the teams will change ends. Turner looked a little groggy. Easy to understand after being hit by a Mack truck there.
4:06 p.m. 27-21 Arkansas — Hunter Henry again is wide open on a play-action fake on third-and-goal from the 2-yard line, and Arkansas retakes the lead after a solid march engineered by quarterback Brandon Allen. The drive ate up nearly half the third quarter, as Arkansas moved 75 yards in 15 plays. But maybe the biggest play isn’t counted in those 15: a five-yard offsides call on Anthony Johnson, probably the fourth time today he’s been drawn on a hard count. This time it was with Sam Irwin-Hill under center and Arkansas looking like it would fake a punt on fourth and 4 from the Arkansas 47. Irwin-Hill ran up to center, barked out the signals and drew Johnson’s quick move into Arkansas’ backfield.
Brandon Allen then efficiently dissected the LSU defense the remaining 48 yards with quick outs to Kiero Small and Javontee Herndon, then a reverse carry by Herndon for 8 to the LSU 29. Jonathan WIlliams ripped 11 yards to the 9 after a completion to Herndon, and Korliss Marshall sprinted to the 2 around left end to set up the play-action to Henry.
Although the situation this late in the third quarter may have called for a two-point conversion, the Hogs went with Zach Hocker for the sure point and a six-point lead.
Now, the defense has to have the biggest quarter it has had all season.
3:49 p.m. 21-20 LSU — Like we said, the Tigers are just one snap from breaking a big play with all the talent they have at running back and receiver. One snap after Jarvis Landry kept the Tigers’ possession live with a one-handed grab on a slant route for a first down, tailback Jeremy Hill followed textbook blocking on the left side through left tackle for 52 yards and a touchdown, with the PAT putting LSU back in front. Once Hill got past the lien of scrimmage, he had smooth sailing with Braylon Mitchell and others in chase for Arkansas. Without Landry’s superb catch in front of Rohan Gaines (Hogs back in that 4-2-5 and zone coverage that covers nothing), Hill wouldn’t have had the opportunity though.
3:47 p.m. — LSU is trying to offset the pressure of Arkansas’ defensive front with some misdirection, bootleg calls for Mettenberger on this series. LSU gets a first down. It’s hard to believe, the way LSU’s first two series went, that we’d be thinking that was a big deal for the Tigers.
3:43 p.m. 20-14 Arkansas — The Hogs get 3 more after an LSU turnover. Not the best of results after such a big defensive play, but at least the lead has been stretched to 6. You just know LSU is one play from maybe hitting a bomb or breaking a big run, though.
Arkansas, after the interception, gave it to Jonathan Williams for his power and speed to move it to the 19. But the drive stalled at the 11, and Zach Hocker converted from 28 yards out from the left hashmark again.
3:38 p.m. 17-14 Arkansas — Hogs force another turnover, getting pressure on Mettenberger and hurrying him into an overthrow that is intercepted by strong safety Alan Turner. The interception and runback sets Arkansas up at the Tigers 38.
3:21 p.m., halftime stats — Arkansas has 238 yards total offense to 170 for LSU. Hogs’ much maligned pass defense has so far only allowed 67 through the air, with LSU’s Zach Mettenberger completing 5 of 10 passes. Mettenberger has fumbled once on a sack, and the Hogs have gotten some pressure on him, sacking him three times.
Brandon Allen isn’t perfect by a long shot, and he was intercepted on an underthrow to a covered-up Jeremy Sprinkle and missed another wide open receiver with an underthrow, but he’s completed 10 of 16 passes, several on well-covered (defensive backs hanging on the backs of Hogs) receivers to keep drives going. Allen has passed for 115 yards.
And who would have thought receiver Javontee Herndon would be the Hogs’ leading rusher, but his 42-yard carry leads the list of Hog rushers. Korliss Marshall has 38 yards on 2 carries. Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins have gotten the tough yards, each with 6 carries and a combined 37 yards. Kiero Small has a rushing touchdown from 3 yards and Hunter Henry has a receiving TD.
Arkansas was the dominant team from the beginning of the second quarter, and the Hogs held the ball for 17:15 of the first half. Arkansas outgained LSU 138 yards to 24 yards in the second quarter.
3:10 p.m. 17-14 Hogs, halftime — Arkansas fails to get the touchdown after the fumble recover at the LSU 28, but Zach Hocker delivers another close range field goal (he’s automatic), a 20-yarder from the left hashmark, and the Razorbacks lead an SEC game at halftime for the first time this season. The Hogs had three snaps from the 5 or inside the five, but the only pass play of the bunch in the last 17 seconds was a bad throw by Allen to Keon Hatcher. Arkansas, with a time out, ran the direct snap to Kiero Small on third down to the left but LSU’s safety Craig Loston ruined the play by getting under the block of 6-10 guard Dan Skipper, who was pulling.
3:02 p.m. — Arkansas is in business immediately after the Allen turnover, thanks to a big sack of Mettenberger and fumble recovery at the 28. Freshman Brooks Ellis came up with the fumble forced by Braylon Mitchell’s sack.
2:58 p.m — The questions after this season will be, was Brandon Allen’s arm badly damaged by the shoulder separation in week 3, leaving him weak-armed. He under threw open receivers last week, and today, and now his soft arm cost Arkansas a scoring chance.
One play after Korliss Marshall raced around left end like an LSU running back for 32 yards to the LSU 32, Allen underthrew tight end Jeremy Sprinkle running deep in the end zone. Jalen Mills had an easy interception. The question would also be, though, even with a sore arm, why did Allen fling it anyway. Mills had Sprinkle covered the whole way.
2:54 p.m. — More great defense from the Hogs to follow up the last series sparked by Byran Jones. This time, Darius Philon caused problems on first down for the vaunted LSU running game, causing a 2-yard loss, and then on third-and-7, which had been a good down for LSU early in the game, Mettenberger had some time, but not enough as Trey Flowers got out of a tough block and sacked the senior LSU quarterback, forcing a punt.
2:46 p.m. 14-14 — Wow, Arkansas has gotten creative. When one series fails and Jim Chaney’s play-calling comes into question, the next one reveals something new and Chaney looks like a genius. We’ve got a tie game.
Arkansas got the tie with Brandon Allen using play action from the LSU 9 on first down and finding a wide open Hunter Henry. The play was set up with some ingenius use of wide receiver Javontee Herndon, who lined up behind Kiero Small in the I formation and took a quick pitch around the right end, breaking it for 42 yards before finally being tripped up.
Allen started the drive with a 9-yard pass to Small on the left sideline from the Hogs 14, and he hit D’Arthur Cowan for 7 yards after another LSU offsides penalty. In all, the Hogs moved 86 yards in 8 plays.
2:38 p.m. — Facemask battle between Hog RB Jonathan WIlliams and Jeremy Rasco of LSU. Both are called for facemask penalties, with Williams trying to use his as part of his stiff-arm, and it wipes out a 10-plus yard gain.
2:34 p.m. — LSU was on another seemingly unstoppable march on its third possession when senior defensive tackle Byran Jones reared up and said “enough.” Jones sacked Zach Mettenberger for a 10-yard loss, then made a tackle on a shovel pass and LSU had to punt for the first time.
Arkansas gave the ball to LSU after one first down when the Hogs failed on a third-and-2 pitch to the short side of the field to Alex Collins, who was swarmed by the LSU defense keying against the run with 10 in the box. On second down in the series, Arkansas ran Collins on a draw play. This is something we noted last week against Mississippi State, all the times that coordinator Jim Chaney called on Collins on a draw when his running nature is more to step and move and make tacklers miss, rather than bursting through the line with speed (a la Korliss Marshall).
Arkansas takes over inside the 15 after a punt.
2:10 p.m. 14-7 LSU — Terrence Magee with another touchdown run, then time right up the gut with missed arm tackles all around by the Hogs. This time Magee goes 23 yards, shaking loose of Byran Jones in the middle and then uncontested by the Hogs’ back seven — not sure Arkansas had a back seven back there that time.
Arkansas is playing with three linebackers more today instead of the 4-2-5 look, but even three linebackers aren’t helping a whole lot. Walk-on Price Holmes is getting some snaps, but frankly he’s overmatched. So are the scholarship starters. It still begs the question, where is sophomore Otha Peters. Besides being a Covington, La., product, is he really not better than the trio of linebackers Arkansas is employing today? He’s far more athletic and skilled, but for some reason these coaches don’t feel like he can help them. Juco transfer Martrell Spaight hasn’t played on defense in weeks either.
LSU’s drive went 75 yards in six plays, with four of the plays going for 10 or more yards.
2:06 p.m. — LSU starts its next possession catching Arkansas in overpursuit, as Odell Beckham Jr. gains 20 yards on the reverse. Defensive end Trey Flowers on the left side, who was handled on the first LSU touchdown, did not keep containment on his side on the reverse, and Beckham had a big lane for big yardage.
2:01 p.m. 7-7 — The touchdown stands, and Zach Hocker adds to his all-time scoring mark at UA with the extra point. Hog fans have to be glad that the team did not let the bad penalty on the kickoff stymie a response to LSU’s touchdown. Arkansas drove 86 yards in 8 plays.
1:59 p.m. 7-7 — Kiero Small takes the direct snap and bulls his way through several tacklers in the middle, pushing the final yard for the touchdown. However, the replay official wants to see it again. The run was set up by a short pass to Hunter Henry wide open on the left sideline to the 6, then an offsides penalty on LSU defensive line jumping the gun. One area where Arkansas can (and has in the past) take advantage is LSU’s lack of discipline defensively. Talented, to be sure, but not nearly as disciplined as Nick Saban’s bunch at Alabama.
1:57 p.m. — Alex Collins cracks the 1,000-yard mark as the freshman gets 6 to the LSU 15 and the Hogs keep moving.
1:54 p.m. — Give the Arkansas offense props for responding quickly to the LSU touchdown and not letting the hold on the kickoff set them back. Arkansas is threatening at the LSU 35 after a good catch and run by Keon Hatcher for 43 yards.
1:52 p.m. — Right, Arkansas should play Korliss Marshall at safety.
Marshall just raced 100 yards on the kickoff for what should have been the tying touchdown, only the Hogs will start on their 14 because reserve linebacker Daunte Carr held on the kickoff. That sums up this season perfectly.
1:48 p.m. 7-0 LSU — Easy quick pitch and run around right end for a touchdown for LSU’s Terrence Magee. 29 yards. Three plays of 15 or better yards on the drive and the Tigers are in front. On the pitch, LSU had good sealing blocks on the Hogs’ left side, and Arkansas’ middle linebacker had no chance at Magee.
1:46 p.m. — Every time Arkansas goes to the 4-2-5 on third and long, LSU converts a good pass over the middle to a wide open receiver. Then on the second time, with LSU using a hurry up to keep Arkansas in that alignment, the Hogs draw a substitution infraction. Tigers are threatening at the Hogs. 29.
1:43 — Great first-down pass deflection by strong safety Alan Turner. One thing that’s certain, the junior from Junction City has been the most improved player on defense this season.
1:42 p.m. — Brandon Allen looks like he needs his entire body to throw a ball 10 yards into the ground and incomplete for Keon Hatcher. Punt time. Sam Irwin-Hill kicks it 51 yards, short return by Odell Beckham Jr.
1:41 p.m. — Two plays, and two yards. LSU has nine guys in the box. The running game will struggle, as will short check down passes into the teeth of the defense.
1:40 p.m. — Arkansas receives and will defend the south goal. The Hogs are in all red from head to toe. The kickoff is into the end zone.
1:31 p.m. — We’re just a few minutes away from kickoff here in Baton Rouge, where Arkansas has only won twice in 20 years. Arkansas won here the first time it visited as an SEC member, running LSU off the field with Danny Ford’s option offense 42-24. Then, of course, was the incredible 2007 game when the Hogs upset No. 1 ranked LSU 50-48 in three overtimes. The Tigers still managed to make their way into the BCS title game and defeat Ohio State for the national championship, the program’s third.
Arkansas had three future NFL stars in Darren McFadden, Felix Jones and Peyton Hillis in that 2007 game.
The Hogs hardly have anything close to that tri0 for today. In fact, if you were an Arkansas fan, wouldn’t you love to have Matteral Richardson, Michael Grant and Kevin Woods back in the secondary from that game? For that matter, Reggie Herring seemed to got a lot out of little in terms of defense during his three years as coordinator under Houston Nutt.
Arkansas needs its linebackers to show up this week. Freshman Brooks Ellis and senior Jarrett Lake played nearly every snap last week against Mississippi State but managed only 7 tackles between them. I’d be very surprised if Arkansas employed its 4-2-5 that much today against LSU’s power game, unless the Hogs just want to be gouged by the Tigers running game. It will be pretty close to impossible for the secondary to keep up with LSU receivers Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. too, for that matter.
Offensively, Arkansas needs to lean on its running game to control the clock move the football, with hopes that Brandon Allen’s throwing arm is better than it’s been since the opening week of the season. No kicking game mistakes. Win the turnover battle. And NO TRICK PLAYS, how about it?