Well, this season could not have ended much more discouragingly than it has. LSU, losers of 3 of its last 4 and 4 of the last 6, needs to regroup for next season. Changes have to be made on the coaching staff, and not just necessarily on the defensive side of the ball. The second half was marked by some awful offensive football, as LSU's offense sputtered with 4 consecutive 3-and-outs in the 3rd and 4th quarter and got a total of 2 first downs in the second half.
People will rightly point to the defense, which definitely struggled at times and did not adjust to what Casey Dick brought to the game at all. In particular in the first two Arkansas possessions of the game the defense appeared to have no idea what it was doing. I think everyone acknowledges that the defense has had problems and has been very porous this year as a whole, and for about a quarter it looked like we would get run out of the stadium.
We settled down in the second quarter, dominating both offensively and defensively, and then opened the second half with a quick touchdown strike. After that, we tried to play to run out the clock, and the result was a whole lot of punting and whole lot of playing with the defense on the field.
I think the defining drive of the game was the last drive of the 3rd quarter, which bled into the 4th quarter. The drive started with Arkansas at their 5 yard line. Ten plays later, Arkansas was facing 3rd and 29 at their own 11 yard line, and ran a safe draw looking to punt. An Arkansas offensive lineman coaxed Tremaine Johnson into an unnecessary roughness penalty, which Johnson claimed after the play was caused by the lineman poking him in the eyes. That gave Arkansas a first down when they would have had to punt from their end zone.
Later on the drive, Patrick Peterson was called for holding, then Rahim Alem was called for unsportsmanlike conduct for kicking the ball. All told, LSU picked up 42 yards of penalties on that drive, and each penalty gave Arkansas a first down. We held them to a field goal, but the drive took 17 plays and kept our defense on the field forever.
At that point, I knew we were in trouble. I knew we were in bigger trouble when we took the kickoff and went 3-and-out.
When we got the ball back with about 5 minutes to play, I thought we would escape. We picked up a first down, ran a little clock, but then when the drive stalled with over 2 minutes to play, I thought we'd be lucky to get out of it with a win. Arkansas had been too effective passing the ball, and they would be in a 2-minute drill. Still, Arkansas had no timeouts, and our pass rush had been doing a good job. When 4th and 1 came up with under :30 to play, I knew they were not going to run a 1-yard play. They didn't have time for that. They were going to the end zone, and they caught Chris Hawkins in 1-on-1 coverage and threw a perfect pass.
Now, we plan for next year and hope that the bad mojo of this year doesn't carry over.