State of the Hogs: La.-Lafayette

Some might think that it's a mistake to play an out-of-conference game this late in the season, but it's just what the doctor ordered. Here's Clay Henry's State of the Hogs, a free commentary brought to you by Arkansas National Bank.

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State of the Hogs:

I have not been a big proponent of the current football schedule. Playing 10 straight games without an open date isn't a grand idea. However, it's also not a great thought to have an open date ahead of the first conference game, especially when it's Alabama. That's not the kind of a slate that has served the Hogs well.

But, I'm happy with the way this game falls. Louisiana-Lafayette's Rajun' Cajuns may be just the right foe for these Hogs right now, and much better than an open date at this point in the season.

Arkansas has some confidence and is on a roll after destroying Ole Miss and South Carolina in its last two SEC dates, and sliding past Troy State in between those two victories. The defense is playing well with back-to-back shutouts. It's a situation that begs for another game, and ULL is the perfect opposition.

The memory of a bad offensive performance against Troy State should be the perfect reminder for the Hogs ahead of the date with the Cajuns. Arkansas should play better than they did against Troy, and, certainly, the Cajuns aren't nearly the defensive force that the Trojans brought to Little Rock.

Of course, the Hogs need to avoid looking ahead to next week's trip to Mississippi State, a team that may present their toughest challenge the rest of the way. The Bulldogs will be tough at home. They have improved of late, as the folks at Alabama can attest. MSU looked like a capable team against 'Bama for the first time this year and it would be hard to believe that a Jackie Sherrill-coached team could go 0-8 in the SEC. 

The Hogs should win on form against ULL, and because of that, Houston Nutt has decided to rest at least one key starter. Shawn Andrews has been plagued by a chronic ankle sprain all season. He won't play against the Cajuns, unless disaster strikes. Instead, true freshman Zac Tubbs will start, and perhaps play the entire game at offensive right tackle in place of Andrews.

Also, there is word that the Hogs plan to give some time to Tarvaris Jackson and Ryan Sorahan in relief of Matt Jones. It would be right to speculate that Jackson will get more snaps than either of the other two, but there are hints that Sorahan has performed well enough this week with some additional practice time that he might play as much as Jackson. It would be good to see both of them in game action since they have been on the pine for the last three weeks as Jones got all the snaps.

That's why playing Louisiana-Lafayette is the perfect opposition this week. It's time to get some backups some time and some starters some rest before the key trip to Mississippi State.

So here's a congratulatory note to the schedule maker, the same guy I've ripped before for giving these Hogs such a sorry schedule. This is one week that I think he got it right.

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