You know, I'd make a joke about the lists of things that went right versus what went wrong on this game, but I'm not really sure anything did go right.
Through a combination of injuries, ineffectiveness, bad coaching and a general lack of give-a-fuck, LSU served up Arkansas' first conference win in two years. And LSU's first shutout since the 2012 BCS title game. Yaaaaay let's bring that up again!
After a week of saying all the right things, it honestly seemed like the cold air hit and took the Tigers will right with it. From the second things started going wrong with that bad snap, nobody really looked interested in competing particularly hard. With the possible exception of Anthony Jennings. And when a quarterback that just isn't particularly good is the only player that is really trying, well...that's what you get.
- I hate to kick a player when he's injured, but my last image of Elliot Porter really will be a snap that wasn't just over Jennings' head...if the offense had been closer to the goal line, it probably would have split the uprights. Like...impressively bad. Maybe he can try to shed some weight and make it in the NFL as a deep-snapper?
- From there, LSU's in third-and-37, and the first drive is, for all intents and purposes, over. The "LSU gained negative-one yard" stat got trotted out a lot in that first quarter. Well, you lose 22 on one play, that's a good way to make it happen.
- Vadal Alexander didn't make the trip due to a hand injury, by halftime Porter was also down, meaning that the Tigers were now playing two little-used backups in the starting interior. And Arkansas could tell -- they really stepped up their motion game and used a lot of stunts and twists on third down. Jennings was under immediate pressure on five out of his first 11 drops.
- On the third drive of the game, Jennings actually kind of kick started things with a couple of plays out of his ass with a couple of scramble throws to Connor Neighbors and Terrence Magee, plus a third-down run. But, well, if that's what you have to rely on, it's going to come back eventually. In the redzone, Jennings make a poor read on second-and-seven, forcing a ball to Dural with Dillon Gordon open in the middle of the field, or a possible scramble. On third down, he gunned a quick throw to John Diarse, who hadn't even gotten off the line yet (seriously -- you're 210 pounds, you should be able to push a corner around).
But why is Jennings the only player that even looked like he cared about winning the game? More on that later.
- Was the offense tipping run plays? Brock Huard certainly seemed to think so, and Ross Dellenger of the Advocate concurred. Jennings and the backs have made little hand motions all year -- I find it hard to believe the Razorbacks are the first team to pick up on it. But it doesn't help that the running game was just intensely unimaginative to boot. Very little spread, no options, no attempts to even get Magee or Leonard Fournette on the edge against, which not only puts the fulcrum of the run on your best two healthy linemen (La'el Collins and Jerald Hawkins), but also attacks Arkansas' linebackers, which are a little on the slow side.
- Of course, that's when Fournette even got the ball. Five carries. I get having a rotation, but if he's not leading it you're not getting your best backs involved.
- The single biggest schematic issue with this offense has been that Cam Cameron has, generally, called plays like Zach Mettenberger, Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry are still out there. The one- and two-receiver route combos? Those weren't uncommon last year at all. But you could do that because Beckham and Landry would make it work just about every time. That hasn't been the case at all this year.
- Strangely, what was different this week was an all-but abandonment of the deep passing game, no matter how many times Arkansas crowded the line of scrimmage. With a freshman corner outside. LSU didn't take a single shot into the endzone on either of its missed-FG drives either. After running three straight to end the Alabama game. That's 100 percent on Cameron. We joked this offseason about him earning his paycheck this year with this bunch and...he hasn't. Every coordinator has bad games. It's the nature of the position and they always stand out no matter how many good ones come before or after. But there's no doubt that Cameron has a lot to prove this offseason in terms of his ability to get this unit back on track.
- Which brings us to the Brandon Harris debate? Should he have played? Would it have made a difference? I'm skeptical. But try it. Try something. By the fourth quarter, you're essentially in the same position you were against Mississippi State: "give it a try kid. What's the worst that can happen?" It's reached the point now that you're actively doing Jennings a disservice by constantly throwing him out there. Maybe sitting and getting another perspective on the game would help. Play Brad Kragthorpe if Harris can't go in and run a limited playbook. Give Harris a handful of packaged plays to run on a drive or two. Do something. There's one game left this year with 10 days' worth of prep in front of it. And yes, LSU should be able to run over the Aggies -- Mizzou just ran for 335 yards on them last week. But this team needs some sort of spark. Putting a new QB in won't necessarily fix things, but neither will Jennings. Once you get to the bowl game, throw the last 12 games out, sit Harris and Jennings down and tell them "whoever works hardest over the next 30 days get this game."
- On defense, LSU fought about as hard as it could. Arkansas gained all of 264 yards despite a steady stream of good field position. The 95 yards gained on the ground were the second-lowest total on the year.
- Kendell Beckwith finished with five tackles and half-a-tackle-for-loss, but still looked a little slowed from his hamstring at times, struggling to get outside on some run plays and busting coverage on a 29-yard gain to Hunter Henry on third down.
- Lamar Louis had one of his better stat lines with seven tackles and two pass break-ups, but that was largely due to Arkansas throwing to Henry and A.J. Derby matched up on him so much. They combined for eight catches for 90 yards.
- Great example of what I talk about with Danielle Hunter as a run defender. He may not have be the dynamic pass-rusher that he looks the part of, but he can set the edge in the running game maybe as well as any defensive end LSU's had since Tyson Jackson.
Arkansas' Dan Skipper has a good 100 pounds on Hunter, but he delivers the blow, drives the blocker back and strings out Korliss Marshall for a loss. (H/T again to Dellenger for the Vine)
- The lasting image of this game for me will be Arkansas' players sprinting across the field to grab that boot. I can joke about "hey, y'all keep it," because no matter what this game is never going to matter to me any more than any other SEC game. But trophy or no trophy, it should matter to the players, and the fact that it hasn't is a poor reflection on everybody in that Football Ops complex.
- One final note: Jennings was rough, but you know what? The kid is busting his backside to try and win games, and on Saturday night he looked like the only member of the LSU offense that really was doing so. If you're reading this and you're in that group that decided to send the kid threats and harassment on social media Sunday, do us all a favor. Go stick your scrotum in a microwave, so we can get you out of the gene pool, kay?