REPORT CARD: LSU 31, Arkansas 26

In each of LSU's last three games against Arkansas, the Razorbacks have had three separate players attempt passes

Even so, that has only allowed the Tigers' neighbors to the north to complete just 31 passes total in those three games (only five completions last Friday).


LSU has now won four straight against the Razorbacks dating back to 2003 and are 5-2 against Arkansas since 2000. In those seven games, eight different Razorbacks have completed just 64 of 160 passes for 898 yards (128.3 yards per game) and have thrown nine touchdowns to eight interceptions.


And the passing numbers would be worse (or better if you're wearing purple and gold) if not for a miracle, last-minute drive by Arkansas in 2002. In three of the last five "Battle for the Boot" tilts, the Razorbacks' starting quarterback has completed four passes or less. The most surprising statistic regarding that last statement is that LSU lost one of those games and won one of them by just five points.


Anyone who stated they would be happy if the Tigers just split their arduous road schedule this year prior to the start of the season is supposed to be happy now. Some aren't holding true to their word because of the way LSU lost at Auburn and because of how close the Tigers were to putting the Gators in a very deep pit in "The Swamp." A win in either of those games would have LSU in the national championship discussion.


Instead, the Tigers played much of the season looking over their shoulders at the fans and detractors and above them at teams in the Western Division Standings who they were better than. Of the latter, LSU has no one to blame but themselves. (Okay, they can partially blame the replay officials at Auburn and again at Florida, where they showed that lightning can strike twice).


The Tigers overcame that adversity to win six straight to end the regular season, a feat performed not too long ago that propelled them into the BCS. If memory serves, that run began after a loss to Florida as well. No, this time the six wins aren't going to lead to the SEC Championship Game and the crystal ball, but they could prove to be very rosy or packed with a lot of Vitamin C.





Unlike against Ole Miss, the Tigers didn't wait until the fourth quarter to get things going, and much of that may have been due to the fact the Keiland Williams was LSU's starter at running back against Arkansas. Averaging 5.2 yards per carry, he led the Tiger rushers and put the exclamation point on the drive that answered the Razorbacks' all-too-easy opening scoring drive.


In what is likely to be his final regular-season performance, JaMarcus Russell was 14-of-22 for 210 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Okay, forget the likely part. All of the fans waiting for Matt Flynn to take the field as LSU's starter are going to see it next year (unless, of course, Ryan Perrilloux takes the job away from him.).


Apparently fighting for extra yards is overrated, because on two occasions the Tigers tried it and turned the ball over. Russell had it stripped from him once, as did Alley Broussard. Those two miscues cost the Tigers scoring opportunities and field position, but they didn't put them behind on the scoreboard as Arkansas was forced to punt and then gave up the ball on downs on their ensuing possessions.


Receivers blocked and caught. Craig Davis turned an underthrown ball into a touchdown, and Early Doucet's only reception of the day was for a score.


GRADE: B- (For ball security)





It took 12 games, but LSU's defense finally gave up a 100-yard rushing game to an opposing back. Well, make that two opposing backs.


Darren McFadden rushed for 182 yards, and Felix Jones had 137. That's where 18 of the Razorbacks' 26 points came from. And even though McFadden nearly completed as many passes in the game as starter Casey Dick, he wasn't in the "Wildcat" formation on a critical fourth down or at all for Arkansas' final possession of the game. Arkansas had 298 yards rushing and only 62 through the air, but none through the air on four incompletions that ended the game.


In his regular season finale as a Tiger, LaRon Landry hauled in an interception that led to points to extend LSU's lead in the fourth quarter. They were needed as McFadden ripped the Tigers' defense for an 80-yard run not long after.


Overall, the defense learned what everyone else already knew: McFadden is the real deal. (There's no way Houston Nutt keeps this guy around for four years.) And Jones isn't bad, either. A lot of yards were given up on the ground, but the Tigers certainly made Arkansas one dimensional.







"Anything you can do, I can do better," said Trindon Holliday to Darren McFadden as he took a kickoff back 92 yards for a touchdown to answer the Razorback running back's 80-yard blast through the heart of LSU's defense.


Arkansas nearly answered with a kickoff return for a touchdown themselves on the ensuing kick, but didn't. No punts blocked, a field goal made, all extra points made, a couple touchbacks, a near kickoff that turned into another possession for the Tigers … all in all, it was a good day for special teams.


Defenders are still getting entirely too close for comfort to Chris Jackson on punts, though.







It was a solid game plan on offense that saw the Tigers unafraid to pass early and put the right man behind JaMarcus Russell at the start to run the ball. Defensively, LSU limited a former high school coach to the only option he had with a high school-like quarterback and made the Razorbacks run as much as possible. Both parts of the plan worked – maybe not to perfection, but towards victory.


For all of the shortcomings this season, Les Miles and company are still the first coaching staff to win 10 games in back-to-back seasons at LSU and definitely the first to face a road schedule that included Top 10 opponents exclusively.



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