State of the Hogs: LSU Trip

Mitch Petrus thinks the Hogs are looking forward to their trip to Baton Rouge to play the Tigers. The Arkansas senior recalls some previous trips to Louisiana.

Arkansas offensive guard Mitch Petrus has been to Baton Rouge twice. Both were lovely experiences.

There's the eggs hurled against the side of the team bus as it creeps near the stadium. There are the sad hand gestures from little old ladies, some holding their grand babies and forcing their hands into various (never good) salutes.

There was the fan that somehow managed to get a severed pig head into the stadium and to the front row of the stands behind the Arkansas bench. It dangled near Petrus much of the game.

It's the kind of fun memories that make Petrus glad he is from Carlisle, Arkansas and playing for the Razorbacks this Thanksgiving.

"I'm thankful for my family, being blessed to be here, the situation I've been put in to be here," he said. "We could be living in Africa stricken by poverty and all of those other things -- and to be alive.

"And, if you think different, then you've got a problem." Petrus did not say the guy with the pig head has a problem -- just that it was disgusting.

"First time I was there, a guy cut the head off a hog and ran a rope through its eyeball and through the back of its head," Petrus said. "It was hanging over the fence next to the player's bench.

"He was blowing a pig call, then yelling, ‘Here, piggy, piggy.' Don't know how he got it in the stadium at all, but that was disgusting."

Don't misunderstand. Petrus has no problem with LSU fans overall.

"For LSU, they have the best fans in the nation," Petrus said. "For us, it can be really intimidating.

"They are crazy. It's a great environment, though."

Does he look forward to the environment?

"Heck, yeah," Petrus said. "It's my favorite place to play. Florida was fun, too."

Fun, but not easy. Attendance will be around 90,000. Night games at LSU are infamous. Arkansas finished in the dark two years ago in an overtime victory. But it's been awhile since they played a night game in Baton Rouge.

"Technically, we won at night there last time," Petrus said. "But it's going to be loud. You have to do some things different with a crowd like that."

Motioning to the reporter two feet away, he said, "Just talking this close is almost impossible with their crowd. You'd think this close, you could talk, but you can't hear anything.

"We have to go on silent counts a lot of the time. We can't go on the quarterback. We just have to watch the ball.

"When we do make checks we have to watch Ryan Mallett. We have to hustle up to the line and give Mallett more time. We can't just check it.

He has to run up and down the line to make sure everyone gets it. Repeat it continuously. We have a lot of calls and some of them sound a like. We have to make sure what he says. I usually turn in my stance to face him and try to read his lips to make sure."

The Hogs will have to make sure they run the ball against the Tigers. Petrus said there has to be a run threat to keep pressure off of Mallett.

It's a Tiger defense that has had some problems tackling in the secondary, but the front is typical LSU front, perhaps with a few more stunts and twists than in the past with John Chavis as defensive coordinator.

"They didn't play a lot of games up front in the past," Petrus said. "They basically just relied on their front four and said come try to block us. They move around a lot more now."

He was reminded that the Hogs made only 83 net rushing yards last week against Mississippi State. "Well, that ain't good, and I don't like you bringing it up because it's a reflection on me," Petrus said, raising his voice with a laugh. "I'd like to get a player over 100 yards every game. A lot of times when you can't run the ball, you aren't going to win the game.

"We are just lucky we have Ryan Mallett to throw it around. This week at their stadium we are going to have to run the ball. We've got to run it and move the chains and get first downs."

That's the simple kind of stuff that will make the severed pig heads disappear -- and make Razorback fans thankful for Mitch Petrus.

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