It's really hard to complain about a 10-2 regular season, but man, that's a rough way to end it. There are a couple of easy targets of blame for this one, but the reality is this goes on the whole team.
- What is it about LSU-Arkansas that causes these crazy things to happen? A punt catches the back of an LSU player's ankle for an easy Arkansas recovery, but the Tigers fail to fall on a Joe Adams muff. Never mind the fumble/interception/punt 80-yard touchdown sequence.
- In terms of Arkansas' plan of attack, it was pretty much what I expected - outside zone runs or draw plays with Knile Davis that took advantage of the LSU pursuit, and downfield passing from Ryan Mallett designed to attack the Tiger safeties and linebackers.
- Karnell Hatcher...wow...it's rare that you make mistakes that directly cost 14 points, but that's pretty much what he did, and that's kind of part of the gig with a safety. The first big play to Cobi Hamilton, that's a throw not many quarterbacks can make that quickly, but you have to know that Mallett can and you have to rotate over there. On the second one, there's no excuse to play the ball on a last-ditch throw at halftime unless you have a clear path to knock it down (and he didn't). You get the guy on the ground, half over. You knock your own guy down, and suddenly there isn't a lot of help to get the guy down. Of course, there was also no reason for the Tigers to be in a 3-deep zone instead of a pure prevent. Arkansas wouldn't have had time for more than one play.
- Hatcher's going to get piled on, but at the same time, LSU got the ball inside the Arkansas 10 with a chance to tie the game and couldn't punch it in.
- Really rough game for the offensive tackles, especially Chris Faulk, who got worked over by Arkansas' Damario Ambrose (coincidentally, the only senior starter on the Razorback d-line). Arkansas even managed to get pressure with three rushers at times, which was just plain sad. In general the offensive line wasn't great - including the normally solid Josh Dworacyzk. Stevan Ridley's first TD required the effort it did because Josh D. failed to get his guy on the ground.
- LSU had some pretty good success with the spread/zone read running game, and even the option in the first half, but tried to get back to I-formation running in the second for some reason. Arkansas has an under-sized front, but the second they saw a two-back set they packed the box and swarmed the line of scrimmage. Spreading things out was the way to go. And I think more option game would have continued to be successful -- particularly with Michael Ford. There's really no reason for Jefferson to throw 27 passes. There was also no reason for Richard Murphy to be carrying the ball in the fourth quarter.
- Horribly managed game by head referee Steve Shaw's crew. Really bad clock management at times - including on Knile Davis' injury in the final two minutes. Bobby Petrino was rightly angry about it. The holding call on P.J. Lonergan was atrocious in particular - calling holding on a center on an outside run (unless that center is pulling) is about as ticky tack as calling pass interference on a hail-mary. Nevermind the facemask on Michael Ford on the play. Shaw generally has a good rep with fans, but this wasn't his first rough game. I'd say Matt Austin has passed him up in the pecking order.
- Speaking of Lonergan...oof. He's had some really good games this season, but today might have been worse than his game against Auburn. But instead of getting pushed around by the Arkansas front, he let them get in his head and badly botched two snaps. The 6-7 Mallett couldn't have caught that second bad snap.
- Finally, the only way I can explain Craig Bolerjack and Steve Buerlein's employment is as a foil for Verne and Gary. From referring to Josh Jasper as a Groza finalist (he's not), to calling for both teams to constantly go for punt blocks in spite of having the two top punt-returners in the SEC to referring to the game as an upset multiple times (Arkansas was a 3.5 point favorite), the mute button wasn't good enough to express my discuss. Honestly, I wanted to skip duct tape even and just go straight to chloroform. Is it really that hard for CBS to get Gus Johnson on SEC football games? I would have even preferred the Mark Jones/Bob Davie combo. I may have even preferred Craig James (/slaps self).