State of the Hogs: Top 10 LSU (Rewind)

The Hogs had a sweet finish for LSU. Here's the rewind from last week's Top 10 Things to Watch in the Arkansas-LSU game. It was a nice finish for the 10-2 Razorbacks.

There is nothing sweeter than to beat LSU with the Sugar Bowl on the line. The Tigers came to Fayetteville with a 10-1 record and a No. 5 BCS ranking and the motivation of treating their fans to a bowl game in their sweet backyard, The Sugar Bowl.

The Tigers should have known better. You can't spell Sugar without an AR at the end.

Arkansas played one of its best games against an LSU team that is as talented as any in the country. The 31-23 victory hinged on a dominant second-half performance by the Hogs on defense. Things could have gotten ugly in the third quarter, but the defense did not buckle despite three short fields. And the offense caught fire in the fourth quarter to delight the packed house at War Memorial Stadium.

1) The Warm-ups
LSU is impressive. The Tigers look good in their uniforms two deep on both sides of the line. I checked them out, but found the Hogs looked just as good. And that is one of the first times I have been able to say that about the Arkansas defensive line when these two teams have been on the field since the Hogs came into the SEC in 1992. I did find one LSU standout that passed the eye test times two. Cornerback Patrick Peterson (6-1, 222) fills out the uniform better than any defensive back I can remember. He was Steve Atwater with hands. He also is the best kick returner the Hogs have seen. You could see him gather in a punt in warmups and glide in either direction. Nothing changed once the game started. He was still one of the best players the Hogs will ever see. Fortunately, he's a junior and the Hogs can breath easier when he declares early for the NFL draft.

2) Ryan Mallett
It was another in a string of nice November performances by the Arkansas quarterback. He made a couple of poor decisions on throws, but he solved the LSU blitzes and tough secondary more than enough to help the Hogs win the game. Mallett made several throws that only Mallett can make. His ropes to Cobi Hamilton and a brilliant throw to Joe Adams -- all for touchdowns -- were the difference in the game. He missed a wide-open D. J. Williams on an interception in the end zone. Williams was in the middle of the field all alone and it was about the only time Mallett missed a bust by the Tigers. Give him credit for engineering a fantastic run game in the fourth quarter.

3) Joe Adams
Oh, this was a special night for Joe Adams. It was sweet revenge after getting knocked out of last year's LSU game. Adams made the big play in the fourth quarter, a 39-yard reception from Mallett for the clinching points. His double move at the line of scrimmage was too much for an LSU freshman defensive back. Give Bobby Petrino credit for finding just the right time to use the "tap play" the Hogs had been polishing for almost 12 months. And give the offensive line credit for getting Mallett just enough time against a "house" blitz.

4) Patrick Peterson
No. 7 was impressive. The LSU junior cornerback looked dangerous every time he touched the ball on kickoff returns. Alex Tejada had to touch him out of bounds to save touchdowns twice. Tejada did a nice job of putting hang time on his kickoffs, but the Hogs just didn't tackle Peterson or have enough speed to match his cuts. Peterson jumped one route against Mallett, but he didn't get a clean pick. Give Mallett credit for staying away from Peterson most of the afternoon.

5) Turnovers
Ultimately, the Hogs won this battle with a fumble recovery in the final minute. Until then, it was a dead heat. Mallett threw two interceptions for the only Arkansas errors. Both may have cost the Hogs a chance to pad their lead. Give Knile Davis credit for taking a pounding in the run game and not coughing it up once. With the way both teams were handing out hard hits, this might have been a good effort by both offensive teams as far as turnovers.

6) First down
The Hogs played well on defense on the early downs. They made it easier on third downs because of it. Neither team converted many third downs. LSU was just 4 of 16. Arkansas was 3 of 13. Of course, the big play was a fourth-and-3 pass Ryan Mallett hit on with Joe Adams for a 39-yard touchdown. In the second half, the Hogs got nice gains on first down to make it difficult for the Tigers to blitz.

7) Covering kicks
Wow, this is the one thing that almost did in the Hogs. They covered Peterson fine on punts, but they could not find or tackle him on most of the kickoffs. A win was keeping him inside the 30. The Hogs won despite their kickoff coverage, not because of it.

8) Van Stumon
The senior fullback from North Little Rock was a standout in the fourth quarter. The Hogs let him lead the way on sweeps and off tackle plays. He blasted linebackers and safeties. Stumon may have locked up a position in the draft with one of his best games as a Razorback. He was blocking a standout linebacker and safety on each play, perhaps All-SEC players. He won those collisions most of the day.

9) Jerry Franklin
After recording 20 tackles against Mississippi State, the Tigers decided to try a different alley. They went after the Arkansas outside linebackers and safeties with their isolation plays, electing to block Franklin. It didn't work. Jerico Nelson, Terrell Williams and Tramain Thomas mopped up. Franklin only made three tackles, but he covered the fumble that ended the game.

10) The Finish
This was all the Arkansas coaches could have dreamed about. They wanted to be the most physical team on the field in the fourth quarter of the November stretch drive. That came true. The Hogs dominated LSU's front in the fourth quarter in a way that few probably could have imagined. LSU knew what was coming on two of the Arkansas scoring drives in the fourth quarter and could do little to stop them. DeMarcus Love and Ray Dominguez joined tight ends D. J. Williams and Ben Cleveland in locking down the edge for the potent Arkansas sweep game with Knile Davis. Many of those plays started with Davis cutting off blocks delivered by Van Stumon. This was one of the most enjoyable fourth quarters in a big game the Hogs have played in a long time. At the end, the talented Tigers were glad to load their bus and find some relief from that Arkansas running game. Now, that's a finish.

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