LSU Versus Arkansas: What to Watch For

Beth Hall-USA TODAY Sports

What to Watch For

Taking Care of Business

That's the name of the game. Show up, celebrate the Seniors, dominate, enjoy the rest of your weekend.

There really is no other formula. Arkansas is bad. They aren't even, "Oh we're 3-8 but lost close to some of the best teams in the conference" bad. They are "Oh we're losing conference games by an average of 23 and a half points" bad. Bret Bielema's debut in Fayetteville has been anything but ideal. Realistically, everything's been rocky in Arkansas since April of 2012 and the now infamous Petrino motorcycle incident.

If there were reservations about LSU folding the tent following a loss to Alabama, a dominant performance against Texas A&M should absolve them. Still, A&M walking into Tiger Stadium with a shot at the Sugar Bowl is easy motivation. Getting the Tigers to play-up against a miserable Arkansas, a team we routinely seem to struggle against, no matter how bad they are, is a different equation.

You'd hope the game would be handled with a business-like efficiency. LSU's clearly superior and it's a great time to end the season on the high note and hopefully improve our bowl standing. A win would also put LSU in position for Miles' seventh 10-win season in nine years. Despite a disappointing loss to Ole Miss, this season hasn't gone terribly different than most of us projected.

Rollin', Rollin', Rollin'

If Arkansas does anything well, it's run the football. They average 211 yards a game at a 5.28 clip... with a miserable passing game. So the rushing threat is very much real. LSU isn't as bad against the rush attack as some would have you believe, but they will certainly be challenged Friday.

Arkansas can't pass and can't really score, ranking 115th and 108th respectively, nationally. They are also allowing 400+ yards a game defensively. All in all, it's the perfect recipe for a team that will try to run the ball early and often and all day long. Arkansas wants a 7-3/10-7 type of game heading into the 4th quarter. If they venture into some type of shootout with LSU, things won't likely turn out well. If they can't keep the sticks moving on the ground game, well, they'll be doomed for yet another long afternoon.

Brandon Allen is probably the league's worst quarterback, completing fewer than 50% of his passes, with an efficiency rating that doesn't even rate in the top 15 of the SEC... a list which includes two players from Kentucky as well as Tyler Murphy and Dak Prescott. So yeah, the worst passing attack LSU has faced all season. As such, that should ease the pressure on the LSU defense, who easily dismantled a similarly one-dimensional offense in Florida.

For the Hogs, it's a two-headed attack, manned by true freshman Alex Collins and sophomore Jonathan Williams. Collins provides the slash and sizzle, a prototypical, one-cut-and-go type that the Hogs will try and get on the edges and off to the races. Williams is the bruiser that can get downhill and punish defenders. He lacks the long speed of Collins, but he's capable of rounding off 15-20 yard runs, abusing would-be tacklers along the way.

For LSU, this means a shift away from the Mustang looks that worked so successfully against A&M and toward bigger packages. Power rushing attacks have challenged the LSU defense throughout the year. Though, it should be noted that the aforementioned Florida squad averaged just 2.77 YPC in Baton Rouge. Obviously with decidedly less running back talent.

There Is No Recipe

Billy's so good at breaking down the schemes and ways to attack, I won't possibly try to emulate. But against Arkansas, I'm not sure there's a defined "plan" LSU needs to stick to to guarantee success. Arkansas isn't particularly adept at stopping the run or the pass, and while they have some defensive line talent up front , their overall depth is lacking. However the Tigers want to attack, they'll likely make hay.

I suspect we'll see a game plan similar to last week, with the coaches turning heavily to the run game, using the pass game to provide careful, but definitive balance. My lone source of concern would be if Mettenberger turned into what we saw against Ole Miss, and others, trying to get everything at once, being overly greedy and not settling for open underneath targets. Arkansas wants to own the football in this game, and if LSU starts churning out quick three and outs, or, even worse, turning the ball over repeatedly, it's the one scenario that could really keep Arkansas in a game that shouldn't otherwise be all that close.

That said, there's nothing wrong with a game plan built around the passing attack. Arkansas pass defense is allowing the second highest completion % and YPC in the league, behind only Kentucky. There will be plenty of opportunities for Mettenberger to make plays in the passing game, but the important thing is to not become greedy. LSU doesn't need to score 28 points in three minutes via downfield passing. A slow mounting beat down is a beat down nonetheless. Play within themselves and the game will inevitably wind up in their favor... likely heavily.

Do NOT Expect

Quittin' Time

Don't expect Arkansas to just roll over. They are bad, yes. But they've heard all week how they have no chance in this game. Bielema will be motivated to try and finish the season with a signature win against a superior opponent in hopes of building toward a better future. I suspect this team will show up with a ton of piss and vinegar, eager to try and leave this season with some type of victory, even if it be a moral one.

If the game is close at half time, there's obviously no reason to panic for LSU fans. The Hogs will come ready to fight. The important thing for LSU is to weather their early adrenaline, avoid the type of mistakes that cost them against Ole MIss, and effectively put this team away.

All season long, LSU's been a much better team at home. Auburn may not be as good as their record indicates, but their lone loss came to LSU at home. A&M walked into Tiger Stadium as underdogs, but underdogs with a shot at the Sugar Bowl and coming off something like 13-straight 40-point performances. In Baton Rouge, they scored 10. If this game were on the road, I'd be a bit more cautious. But due to the success at home, and the overall struggle of this Arkansas team, expect this one to wind up a comfortable victory, even if it takes longer than you'd like.

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