Battle For The Boot

No. 3 Arkansas (10-1, 6-1) will maintain silence about this Friday's showdown at No. 1 LSU (11-0, 7-0) out of respect for the passing of Razorback tight end Garrett Uekman, but LSU head coach Les Miles sized up the game on Wednesday's SEC Teleconference.

While Arkansas has decided to not talk about its game with LSU until it is over out of respect for the passing of Garrett Uekman, Tigers head coach Les Miles did have some thoughts on the SEC's Teleconference.

"I've never been able to predict how people handle those things," Miles said. "I can only tell you how unfortunate it is. Garrett Uekman is certainly a loss…There is no explaining. I don't know how you handle it, but I suspect that they will play an emotional game and come together." It is a very difficult set of circumstances there."

The No. 3 Razorbacks (10-1, 6-1) travel to play at No. 1 LSU (11-0, 7-0) in "The Battle For The Boot" - a Friday afternoon 1:30 p.m. SEC Western Division match-up that has national title implications.

Arkansas has won three of its last four games with LSU.

"I would anticipate that they would give us their best play on offense, defense and special teams," Miles said. "(They have) a very talented return game, a high-powered offense and a defense that has a nice scheme in place. We are looking forward to Friday."

LSU won 9-6 at No. 2 Alabama earlier this season and also owns a win over another top 10 foe in Oregon.

"We have kind of enjoyed how we have played in big games and we are looking forward to this – another top five match-up," Miles said.

If Arkansas wins on Friday and Alabama beats Auburn on Saturday, it would create a three-way tie atop the West.

Alabama would then get the SEC Championship game berth while winner of Arkansas-LSU has a claim to the national title game.

Miles was asked would he vote the Razorbacks ahead of the Tigers if the visitors win on Friday.

"I'm not going to speculate about that," Miles said. "It really doesn't serve me, doesn't help me prepare. Right now we really enjoy the position we have and we are going to play to keep that position. We are looking forward to a great game against Arkansas and we are not going to go into the what-ifs and there-afters."

Miles said he is happy with how his team is getting ready for the showdown.

"I have enjoyed the way our guys have prepared," Miles said. "We went into a short week and got a lot accomplished to this point. We feel like we are in position to compete well against Arkansas."

Safeties Eric Reid and Craig Loston have both been hurt, but Miles expects to see them both on the field Friday.

"I don't think there is any question that Craig Loston will play," Miles said. "He ran yesterday and felt good."

"..We are very optimistic about Eric Reid," Miles added. "That being said, Loston is certainly prepared to play safety the entire way. I think we are good there."

Miles doesn't believe his secondary can simply play man-to-man throughout against Arkansas vaunted receivers.

"I think you have to play mix," Miles said. "I don't think there is any question that we need to do that and need to do that most Saturdays in the fall."

Miles says his secondary is relishing the challenge.

"They are a very talented group," Miles said of Arkansas wideouts. "They are guys that can catch the ball and they spread it around. They are certainly a tremendous challenge and are guys are certainly excited about the match-up. They look forward to this. This is another big game and we have played well in big games."

He doesn't think LSU is catching a break with Tyler Wilson at quarterback instead of Ryan Mallett, now a back-up in the NFL.

"I think Tyler Wilson is really way beyond his years in terms of understanding what he is looking at, getting the ball out of his hand and making plays," Miles said. "I think he is just as talented. I think Mallett may have one of the stronger arms that we have seen, but Tyler Wilson makes every pass. I think Tyler is a little shorter, but he is very talented."

Miles said that LSU will have its hands full with Arkansas offense. He simplifies the keys to slowing them down.

"Covering them and getting to the passer and having the opportunity to play the run," Miles said. "The great thing about their offense is that it is balanced and ability to hurt you throwing and running. It is a challenging set of circumstances. Again, they are a talented group."

Miles notes that Razorback defensive end Jake Bequette is "obviously operating at full speed now" and that the Arkansas defense has improved throughout the season.

"I think they are a more veteran (defense)," Miles said. "They have added some new starters to the group. I think after an 11-game schedule those guys are playing a little bit more responsible, a little bit more technically competent. I just think they are a more capable difference."

He also believes that is the case with his team's offense.

"I think we are in a similar position," Miles said. "I think our offense has improved, understands more how we need to attack teams. Those young guys that have been starting now for 11 guys are just better than those guys that started the season."





Dennis Johnson rumbles for yardage earlier in his career against LSU.


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