LSU's Randall Too Much For Hogs

LITTLE ROCK -- Arkansas coach Houston Nutt thought Arkansas quarterback Matt Jones was "out there on one leg" against LSU.

Unfortunately for the Arkansas defense, LSU's Marcus Randall had two fresh legs. The Tigers' senior quarterback brutalized the Hogs both running and passing in a 43-14 victory Friday in War Memorial Stadium.

The Hogs worried most about how they would stop Alley Broussard and Joseph Adai, LSU's terrific tailback tandem. Broussard and Addai remind of a cross between Jerry Eckwood and Jessie Clark the way they gash defenses north and south and also circle the flank with such ease. Broussard (81 yards) and Addai (39) made their presence felt, but weren't the daggers to the Hogs' heart some expected.

They knew Randall could and would run, but expected him to be more of a play-action passer. And, they didn't expect to see him until the second quarter since the Tigers usually start JaMarcus Russell.

"We were hoping we would see the other one first," said Dave Wommack, the UA defensive coordinator. "It's been difficult for us all year to defend a mobile quarterback. He was very good today. That is the best we've seen him play."

Arkansas senior end Jeb Huckeba said the Hogs couldn't find the handle on how to defend both LSU's power running and Randall's sprintouts, draws and play-action passing. Randall finished with 79 yards on 17 rushes and another 173 yards on a 10-of-14 passing day.

"Those backs are so thick and so fast, but today the biggest factor was Randall," Huckeba said. "We rushed him, but he got past us on traps, draws and sprintouts. Some of it was poor tackling, but some of it was that he played very well."

LSU had started Russell the past three weeks, but LSU coach Nick Saban has always referenced Randall as "my starter." Perhaps that little bit of rest he's gotten each week was the difference in keeping Randall's legs fresh for the 11-game grind.

Jones didn't have that luxury like he did last year when Ryan Sorahan started most weeks and sometimes provided relief help. Jones wasn't healthy the last half of the season after pulling a muscle in his left leg on the first play at Auburn. It was his right hamstring that gave him fits the last two weeks of the season.

"They had their quarterback healthy, we didn't," said Arrion Dixon, senior defensive tackle. "But, really, you don't know if that would have made any difference. LSU was very good. The bad part was that at times we handled their tailbacks and got them in situations where they had to make a play with the quarterback on a scramble. We just couldn't contain him."

Nutt talked about the plays Jones might have made if he'd been healthy. But could he have made enough plays to get Arkansas to 43 on the scoreboard? Probably not.

The Hogs just couldn't stop the Tigers enough for anything Jones could have done on a perfect day to have made a difference. It left Wommack frustrated, but not surprised.

"We kinda knew what we were facing this year coming in," he said. "It's been stressful and difficult. We are not ready to play with some of the big boys yet. What makes it tough is that we were close to winning maybe eight games and playing another game (in a bowl).

"You re-evaluate after a year like this. Any competitor re-evaluates. I want to make sure to give LSU credit. They have a heckuva football team and very good talent and coaching. You look across the way and they are two and three deep. They have great competition just to get on the field. That's where you want to be. They have a third team tailback (Justin Vincent) they won a national championship with last year."

The Hogs are a long way from that point. Their best plan on defense is to rotate a bunch of youngsters hoping the future arrives sooner rather than later. It didn't look to be near on Saturday.


Clay Henry is the publisher of Hawgs Illustrated, a Stephens Media Group publication. His column appears each Friday.

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