PREVIEW: LSU offense vs. Arkansas defense

TSD's Hunter Paniagua previews the games inside the big game Friday when Zach Mettenberger and the Tiger offense has the football.

Projected Starters

LSU Offense
QB Zach Mettenberger, RB Jeremy Hill, FB J.C. Copeland, WR (Z) Odell Beckham, WR (X) Kadron Boone, TE Chase Clement, LT Josh Dworaczyk, LG La'el Collins, C P.J. Lonergan, RG Trai Turner, RT Vadal Alexander

Arkansas Defense
DE Trey Flowers, DT Alfred Davis, DT Bryan Jones, DE Chris Smith, OLB A.J. Turner, MLB Otha Peters, STAR Ross Rasner, CB Tevin Mitchel, S Eric Bennett, S Rohan Gaines, CB Will Hines

Nothing would please LSU fans more than seeing the Tiger offense pull off one more solid performance to close out the season and head into bowl preparation. The Arkansas defense has been a large part in the Razorbacks' struggles this season, ranking near the bottom of the Southeastern Conference. The Arkansas secondary has been an area of major concern, with the Razorbacks ranking last in the conference allowing 292.1 passing yards per game.


Arkansas fields a young secondary with junior strong safety Eric Bennett the most experienced of the bunch. The starting cornerbacks, Tevin Mitchel and Will Hines, have come up with one interception apiece this season, and the duo has combined to force three fumbles. Arkansas has faced two of the SEC's better passers in each of its last two contests in Connor Shaw and Tyler Russell. Each quarterback threw for more than 275 yards as the Razorbacks showed few signs in overcoming its defensive woes in the secondary.

Mettenberger is coming off his third straight 250-plus yard passing game. While the occasional overthrow still seems to hinder things, LSU's newfound devotion to the vertical passing game has provided a stronger threat. Expect Mettenberger to find plenty of openings against Arkansas and continue his steady play.


Arkansas can take some pride in its ability to stop the run, ranking fifth in the SEC with 127.3 yards allowed per game on the ground. Freshmen linebackers Otha Peters and AJ Turner have combined for 71 tackles this season, with 2.5 coming for a loss. Ross Rasner, who plays a kind of rover position for Arkansas, leads the team with 79 tackles, seven for a loss, and has intercepted three passes with two forced fumbles.

The offensive slack has been taken off the LSU run game with the emergence of Mettenberger, but the Tiger running backs haven't totaled more than 150 yards since Oct. 20 against Texas A&M. LSU did rack up 145 yards on the ground last week against Ole Miss with four rushing touchdowns. Don't expect LSU to have to rely too much on the ground game as the passing attack should find success against a struggling Arkansas secondary.


A big part of Arkansas' success against the run has come from its pair of defensive tackles, Alfred Davis and Byran Jones. The duo has combined for 87 tackles, including 7.5 for a loss. The Razorbacks have been one of the more successful teams in pressuring the quarterback, ranking tied for fifth in the SEC with 28 total sacks. Chris Smith and Trey Flowers have combined for 13.5 of those sacks, with Smith ranked fourth in the SEC with eight.

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