Jim Harris’ Arkansas Vs. LSU LIVE BLOG

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Join us as Jim Harris leads our Arkansas vs. LSU Battle For The Boot Live Blog, beginning 15 minutes before kickoff.

The game is on CBS beginning at 1:30 p.m. Arkansas time.






1:20 p.m. — To borrow a line a friend once used, “Picking up where I left off before I was rudely interrupted …” This is Jim Harris, back after a three-week absence for a return of my Arkansas football live game blog.

Arkansas vs. LSU. Back in August, this game was expected to possibly determine the SEC West Champion, and maybe even the national champ (cough, cough). Instead, Razorback fans have four quarters before we put an end to the John L. Smith era and move on  to whatever is next. LSU, meanwhile, seeks a big bowl game (Capital One, perhaps?). The teams are meeting in Fayetteville for the first time since 1992, when an interim coach looking for just his third win of the season led the Hogs to a 30-6 rout of the Tigers. No way Arkansas beats LSU like that today; the Hogs will be lucky if it’s not the other way around, if the offense can’t do any more than it did for the last 42 minutes of last week’s game in Starkville.

Seriously, what kind of program have you become when you’re losing 45-14 to Mississippi State. Troy played the Bulldogs much better than that.

We’re minutes away from kickoff. Join in on the blog with your comments, or also follow me on twitter @jimharris360. You an also email comments to

and I’ll be checking them as often as I can. Beautiful sunny day in Fayetteville, perfect for football. Will there be another Arkansas miracle win over LSU but this time a Miracle on Maple? Let’s get going:
1:36 p.m. — It doesn’t appear many of the students made it back to Fayetteville for the game. Isn’t that why they played it every other year in Little Rock? It’s senior day for the Hogs. I will miss watching Tyler Wilson throwing to Cobi Hamilton. I’m sad for Hog fans that they didn’t see linebacker Alonzo Highsmith or D-end Tenarious Wright much of the season at all. I’ll miss the first real SEC-quality punter the Hogs have had since 1992 All-SEC punter Pete Raether, who came into the league ready to compete. Dylan Breeding was a big get for the Petrino crew. I’ll always wonder what happened to the likes of Ronnie Wingo Jr.; it seemed like he had way more talent that was utilized the past two years. I’ll miss the way Dennis Johnson brought it in the biggest games at running back. What are your thoughts on the outgoing seniors?
1:40 p.m. — Last week D’Arthur Cowan got his feet wet as a kick returner. No nervousness today. Cowan goes 32 yards with the opening kickoff. Good field position for the Hogs to start the game moving from the south end zone toward the north.
1:46 p.m. 0-0 — Seen this before. Arkansas will an impressive opening drive, Tyler Wilson was 6 of 6 on the drive. But then Dennis Johnson, after a short reception, has the ball knocked loose at the 2-yard line near the sideline.
Arkansas is the world’s worst this season in turnover margin; even worse than 0-11 Southern Mississippi. It’s amazing how better the record might have been had Arkansas just broken even with the opponents in giveaways. Hogs defense has never been good enough under Petrino to survive when the offense gives away possessions, especially one on the lip of the opponent’s goal line.
1:53 p.m. 0-0 — Arkansas’ defense lets LSU off the goal line but stiffens after giving up two running first downs. Freshman defensive back Will Hines put an Alabama-DB-like hit on Spencer Ware to force an incompletion, and end Chris Smith beat the snap and sacked LSU QB Zach Mettenberger on third down. Hogs nearly gave it right back again with Keante Minor’s terrible attempt to field a punt, but Arkansas recovered his muff.
The good news is John L Smith wrapping up his Hog coaching career today is he also won’t be anywhere near the Arkansas kicking game from here on. Can SOMEONE not teach Minor how to properly catch a punt? He field its like he’s receiving a pass. He supposedly has great hands, but  it didn’t work that time.
1:57 p.m. 0-0 — That was very un-Mallett like by Wilson into the LSU zone. Too much air under a pass toward Demetrius Wilson and an easy pick for an LSU d-back. You would have thought by the 12th game the Hog coaches would have trained the offense how to form tackle after Wilson’s interceptions. Too much yardage on the runback. LSU starts on the UA 40 after the Hogs’ second turnover in two possessions.
2:02 p.m. 3-0 LSU — Arkansas’ defense barely budges (8 yards on three snaps) — did anyone ever think the Hog defense would be playing better than the offense at this point, as least relatively?  – and LSU brings on Drew Allemende for a 49-yard field goal that splits the uprights.
2:14 p.m. 3-0 LSU, end of first quarter — Tyler Wilson and Arkansas’ offense quickly pushed out from the 25 to the UA 48 but Wilson took a 3-yard sack on first down and the Hogs were behind the chains with nothing working downfield. Dylan Breeding punted the Tigers back to their 2, however.
Former UA coach and athletic director Frank Broyles, now 86 years young, led a Hog call on the field when the teams changed ends.
For having such a vaunted defense, LSU’s tackling the past two weeks has been suspect. Arkansas took advantage, but the two turnovers were damaging, as they should be in this league.
Checking the record book to see any worse year for turnovers for the Hogs ever. Can’t think of a season this bad off hand. Arkansas won the turnover margin just ONCE all season, at Auburn. Razorbacks still had two that day, but the woeful Tigers gave away five.
2:24 p.m. 3-0 LSU — Killer penalties not helping the Arkansas offense. On the first series of the game, freshman receiver Mekale McKay was flagged for 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct after a nifty catch and run to the LSU 6 (Dennis Johnson eventually fumbled the possession away at the 2) and now, with the Hogs backed up by the 6, tight end Austin Tate is caught blocking downfield below the knees, which wipes out Knile Davis’ best run in weeks.
2:35 p.m. 3-0 LSU — How ’bout that old-timey fired-up Razorback defensive football, stopping LSU on a fourth-and-half-yard sweep?
It didn’t make much sense in the Alabama game when LSU put Spencer Ware in at quarterback, rather than as a deep “wildcat” back, and it doesn’t make much sense there when he pitches it out, though maybe Lester Miles thinks opposing defense will gamble on stopping a QB sneak by Ware. Anyway, Arkansas came after the Tigers and swarmed Michael Ford for a 3-yard loss back to the UA 42. Arkansas takes over with 9:31 left in the first half.
2:40 p.m . 3-0 p.m. LSU — Tyler Wilson has become the all-time passing yardage leader at Arkansas with 7,495 yards. Wilson’s 9-yard pass to Javontee Herndon put the fifth-year senior two yards over Ryan Mallett’s previous school-leading mark of 7,493. Arkansas is on the move after LSU’s gamble failed.
2:44 p.m. 3-0 LSU — Zach Hocker put a bad move into a 40-yard field goal try to tie and missed it slightly wide left. Arkansas seemed to be calling plays in the scoring area as if it was happy to be setting up for the field goal. Hocker hasn’t been as accurate this year as he was as a freshman and sophomore, however. Early against Alabama, Hocker missed one in his makeable range, in the same direction as this one (toward the sound end zone seats) and it was all downhill from there.
2:50 p.m. 3-0 LSU — Freshman starting linebacker A.J. Turner has an apparently lower right leg injury and is out of the game. He’s been stellar in the Hogs’ slowing LSU’s power running game. And, of course, linebacker has been a disaster area for the Hogs all year in terms of injuries and inexperience.
2:58 p.m. 10-0 LSU — Jarvin Landry makes a spectacular one-handed catch in the back of the end zone of a 22-yard Zach Mettenberger pass for the game’s first touchdown. LSU drove 76 yards in 9 plays, scoring with 1:12 left in the first half.
Landry, lining up as an inside receiver to the left, had middle linebacker Otha Peters on him man-to-man as he ran a post, and Mettenberger threw it over the defender. Landry has been LSU’s go-to guy; strange that Arkansas would line up the middle linebacker on his, but the Razorbacks have had strange matchups all season in pass defense, particularly with its slower linebacking crew on faster inside receivers.
LSU was helped on the drive by a 15-yard penalty that apparently was called on John L. Smith or the Arkansas sideline arguing about an LSU timeout that the referee ruled came before an obvious procedure penalty on the Tigers. The procedure call on third-and-4 was waved off, and with the PF, the Tigers were suddenly at the Hogs’ 24.
Needless to say, the Arkansas fans and coaches don’t believe many of the calls are going Arkansas’ way. On the snap right after the personal foul call, TV replay seemed to show Trey Flowers being held by LSU’s right tackle but no call was made. On the next down, third-and-8, Mettenberger found Landry.
3:20 p.m. 10-0 LSU, halftime — Tigers did more to help Arkansas  moved the football than anything the Hogs did on the last drive before the half. A hit above the shoulders called on pass-rusher Barkevious Mingo (all-name All-American too) and pass interference down field on the linebacker Minter getting in the way of Cobi Hamilton. But all that couldn’t get the Hogs on the board, as Zach Hocker missed again in the south end, pushing a 43-yard field goal right with :03 showing.
The teams are even in total yardage, 165 apiece. Arkansas has 50 yards rushing, with Dennis Johnson leading the way (4 for 23 yards). Tyler Wilson has four carries for 19 yards. Cobi Hamilton’s four catches for 49 yards leads all the receivers, and Arkansas has 115 yards passing. Wilson started 6 of 6 but is 7 of 16 since. Johnson has 24 yards receiving on four catches.
The key stat, of course, is the two Arkansas turnovers in LSU territory. LSU failed on a fourth-down conversion. Bulllish Jeremy Hill has a team-leading 58 yards rushing on 8 carries for the Tigers, who have 71 on the ground. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger has completed 7 of 13 passes for  94 yards. Odell Beckham Jr. has one catch for 43 yards and Jarvis Landry has four receptions for 44 yards.
3:50 p.m. 10-3 LSU — Zach Hocker gets relegated to the bench as field goal kicker after his two first-half misses. John Henson, a sophomore walk-on, comes on to kick a 25-yard field goal to put Arkansas on the board. His kick was the culmination of an impressive 50-yard drive that bogged down, as many Hog drives have this fall, in the red zone.
Red zone success depends on discipline and deception by the offense, and the only one deceived on one Hog play was receiver Julian Horton, who obviously ran the wrong route on second down inside the 15.
Before that, however, Tyler Wilson found LSU looking inside for the Hogs’ crossing routes they ran over and over in the first half, and that left the flats unguarded for big gains, including a 24-yard catch and run by Dennis Johnson.
Arkansas’ field position was set up by a kickoff gaffe by the Tigers at the 6, and a three-and-out pitched by the defense.
However, following the Hogs’ field goal, they’ve just surrendered an 87-yard kickoff return to their 14 by Michael Ford. Terrible coverage on the kick with breakdowns opening up the LSU right side of the return, and Ford carried it down the LSU sideline before being run out of bounds. Typically the mark of a bad team, to follow up the first positive offensive threat and score with a botch on the kickoff coverage. Don’t fret, fans, less than two more quarters remaining of this nightmare.
3:55 p.m. 17-3 LSU — That was too easy for LSU, covering 14  yards in three snaps. Jeremy Hill bulled the last yard.
4:04 p.m. 17-10 LSU — Arkansas finally shows some second-half fight in a November SEC game. Tyler Wilson guides Arkansas 74 yards in 7 plays, with a perfectly thrown 28-yard pass to Mekale McKay putting the Hogs on the board again. McKay had a step on the LSU cornerback, Jalen Collins, on Arkansas’ left side. McKay’s 6-6 frame was a big factor on the smaller Collins and Wilson put it up high enough where only McKay could get it.
Knile Davis showed some early spark on the drive with two darting runs for 9 and 8 yards, the quickest we’ve seem him look this season (plus, he got the best blocking up front that he’s seen all year).
And this time Michael Ford is dumped on the 9 on the kickoff return. With just under 6 minutes left in the third quarter, the momentum seems to have turned.
4:22 p.m. 17-10 LSU, end of third quarter — We’ve seen some odd things on the field the last few minutes. The far-side (far-sighted also) line judge gave LSU a favorable spot on a third-down pass that the review official in the booth refused to overturn, and LSU as able to push out past midfield before punting.
LSU also thought it should have been given a fumble after forward progress obviously was stopped two yards upfield on Knile Davis, as safety Eric  Reid stripped the ball out. Even goofy Les Miles was watching the video board and throwing his hands up like “That wa a fumble,” which was clearly after LSU pushed Davis two yards backward first.
Knile Davis seems to have ramped up his effort for this game. He gained 22 yards on a catch and run at the left sideline just before the quarter ended.
4:36 p.m. 17-13 LSU — The decision to take a chip-shot field goal with the ball on the half-yard line might be debated for all time. But that’s what John L. Smith and the Hog brain trust chose after Tyler Wilson’s third-down quarterback sneak was thrown back just short of the goal line. Arkansas rushed down the field with big plays, including a 37-yard pass to a wide open Jonathan Williams on fourth-and-1 from the LSU 46 and then a catch to the half-yard line by Cobi Hamilton, whose having a big senior day.
But Hamilton, who was wide open for nearly an eternity on the play before Wilson saw him (it’s hard to believe Wilson wouldn’t have been looking to Hamilton first on a first-down at the 9), could only get the ball to just shy of the pylon, and then a short toss to fullback Morgan Linton fell incomplete with Linton being shaken up on the play.
So Henson, the new field goal kicker, delivered the 3 points.
4:50 p.m. 17-13 LSU — More weirdness. LSU avoids a lost fumble because an inside receiver was deemed to have moved prematurely, even though it didn’t appear the play was whistled dead before UA end Trey Flowers forced a Mettenberger fumble. LSU punter Brad Wing is great even without a wind, but the strong north breeze helps him boot it 69 yards out of the end zone.
Then Arkansas gets another bad break when senior receiver Cobi Hamilton is upended and is left woozy from the spill. That brings in Brandon Mitchell for his first key action in six weeks, since being suspended before the Ole Miss game for undisclosed reasons other than a “team violation.” Wilson sails one to the open Mitchell (who is 6-5) on the first try, then is a little low for him on the next attempt on back to back throws and Arkanas has to punt the ball back. There is 9:06 left in the game.
Also, we thought it was Cobi’s head that took the impact and it turns out from TV report that it’s his ankle.
5:09 p.m. 17-13 LSU — John L. Smith doesn’t go for it on fourth-and-four at the LSU 45 and that’s probably going to cost Arkansas the game. The defense has done about all it could do, but you’d think he believes he’s coaching Ohio State’s defense.
I can’t take credit for this but I saw it on Twitter:. You’d think a guy who squandered away $40 million in risky land development would have had the guts to go for it on fourth and a half yard at the goal line or fourth-and-four at the LSU 45.
This clown (Smith) will go back to lamenting the fumble on the first series of the game as being the difference. “If not for that we would have one.”
5:14 p.m. 20-13 LSU — Drew Allemende pushed LSU’s lead back to 7, 20-13, with a 27-yard field goal with 1:26 left. Odell Beckham Jr.’s catch and run for 47 yards on third and 10 was the crucial play that set up the field goal. Arkansas’ defense has played its heart out. Tyler Wilson now has barely more than a minute to engineer a length of the field drive to tie.
5:23 p.m. 20-13 LSU, final — Razorback senior quarterback Tyler Wilson did get one last shot at the end zone to tie the game, but his pass from the LSU 18 to the tall freshman Mekale McKay on the right side of the end zone was well defended and went incomplete as time expired.
Wilson was able, with no timeouts, to move the Hogs from their 22 to the Tigers 18 in the last 1:20 with passes of 8 yards to the hobbling Cobi Hamilton, 11 to Javontee Herndon, and a fourth-down throw of 12 yards to Brandon Mitchell before a 28-yard toss down the middle to Julian Horton and a spike of the ball with :06 showing to stop the clock.
Arkansas finished with more offense, 462 yards to 306 for LSU, and Wilson completed 31 of 52 throws for 359 yards. Wilson finished as Arkansas’ leading rusher with 38 yards on nine carries.
The real story was Arkansas’ defensive effort. The Hogs held the Tigers to 89 yards rushing, and Jeremy Hill’s 77 yards on 18 carries topped the Tigers. LSU was aided by an 87-yard kickoff return after a Razorback field goal to drive just 14 yards in three plays for what proved to be the winning points.
Archie Manning, the former Ole Miss and New Orleans Saints quarterback, said on CBS TV after the game that Hogs coach John L. Smith “made some questionable decisions for a 4-7 team.” Notable were the fourth downs, one a foot from the goal line when Smith chose a field goal instead of an attempt to tie the game early in the fourth quarter, and then on fourth-and-4 at the LSU 45 with just over five minutes left in the game. Arkansas’ punt team did down the ball at the LSU 12 but the Tigers were able to push out, eat up the clock with first downs, break a big play with a pass and run by Odell Beckham Jr., and extend the lead to 7 with Drew Allemende’s short field goal.
Arkansas finished 4-8 in a year that began with so much promise when the Hogs left Dallas 29-16 winners over Kansas State in the Cotton Bowl. No need to rehash it all, but it all seemed to run off in a ditch in April and all the hopes through the summer unraveled the second week of the season in a loss to Louisiana-Monroe.
LSU will take a 10-2 record into a nice bowl game. Arkansas, meanwhile, hopes to find a coach with a daring and will more similar to Bobby Petrino than what his interim replacement Smith displayed in the fourth quarter today.
Thanks for reading this first live blog on an exciting new website. I hope you’ll come back often.
Email: jharris@abpg.com. Also follow Jim on Twitter @jimharris360