Despite Struggles, UA Offense Still On Pace

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas' offense has been called one-dimensional.

Its passing attack is labeled a disappointment. Its play-calling has been branded as conservative and its creativity is constantly under fire.

There's no denying Arkansas has had its flaws, but when the Razorbacks (7-4, 3-4 in Southeastern Conference) play at top-ranked LSU (10-1, 6-1) on Friday, the oft-criticized offense has a chance to be called something else: The highest scoring in school history.

Arkansas has scored 428 points and needs nine more against the Tigers' stout defense to set the school's single-season mark. The 2003 group, which included memorable stars like quarterback Matt   Jones, running back Cedric Cobbs and lineman Shawn Andrews, scored 436.

In addition, the Razorbacks are averaging 38.9 points a game which could be another school record with a strong finish. Outgoing athletic director Frank Broyles' 1970 team averaged 36.5 points a game.

"That's amazing," senior receiver Robert Johnson said. "We've gone through a lot this season. We've had a lot of up-and-downs and struggles. But to reach a goal like that would be real good."

To be fair, not all the scoring has come from the offense. Special teams has two touchdowns. The defense has three scores and a safety.

Freshman place kicker Alex Tejada has made an impact, too, making 17 field goals and a school-record, 51 extra points. Tejada's 102 total points ties him with Kendall Trainor for the school's single-season record.

But coach Houston Nutt said he is proud of the productivity the Razorbacks have managed behind the talents of running backs Darren McFadden, Felix Jones and Peyton Hillis. Especially since Arkansas has had suffered injuries to important pieces like receiver Marcus Monk (knee), tight end Ben Cleveland (neck) and freshman Crosby Tuck (arm).

"We scored a lot of points this year," Nutt said. "And it hasn't been easy. (The coaches have) done a good job. They've taken what we had without Monk and put the ball in the best guy's hands. So I think the creativity with those guys has been good."

Arkansas enters the LSU game third in the SEC and 13th in the nation in scoring. The rushing offense leads the SEC and is fourth nationally (288.7 yards). The Razorbacks also are second in the SEC in total offense and 20th in the nation (452.4).

Of course, the tailback tandem of McFadden and Jones are a big reason for Arkansas' offensive success. The Razorbacks run the ball nearly twice as much as they throw it. But their goals never change.

"We want to score every time we touch it," said Monk, who missed the first six games because of an injury. "As an offense, that's our goal."

They haven't been perfect by any means. The Razorbacks averaged 51 points a game in nonconference wins, but the production has dipped in seven SEC games. Arkansas is averaging 32 points in SEC play.

Offensive struggles have come at inopportune times. Auburn held the Razorbacks to a season-low, 193 yards in a 9-7 win in October. Arkansas didn't score until late in the fourth quarter. A month later, Tennessee dominated the Hogs and held them to 289 yards in the 34-13 win.

"Those two games were disappointing," Nutt said. "They were the most frustrating. But you've got to give them credit. They stopped us. Other than that, I feel good abut the way we scored."

But the Razorbacks will face another enormous challenge Friday.

Offensive coordinator David Lee said the Tigers will be, no doubt, the toughest defense the Razorbacks have faced. LSU, which is led by defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey, is ninth in the nation in scoring defense (17.4 points) and second in total defense (257.6 yards).

If the Razorbacks become a record-setting group Friday, they'll have to earn it. If they don't, Lee said that's OK, too. As long as Arkansas wins.

"I didn't know we were in that position," Lee said. "But it doesn't matter. What matters is winning that game. I don't care if we win it 2-0 or 3-2 or 7-3. If we can win that game, it would mean everything.

"I'm proud of our players. They've done a good job. To have these two backs at one time is special and that's why we're in that position."

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