Nothing like some shredded pork to cure a hangover, right?
Aside from a few pockets of frustration, LSU dominated the line of scrimmage on offense and defense in an extremely satisfying 38-10 win over Arkansas. The 28-point spread is LSU’s largest in this series since 2004.
The Tigers eliminated the hangover concern quickly with its first game-opening touchdown drive of the season on offense while the Tiger defense set the tone for a dominating performance by forcing three punts and an interception on the Hogs’ first four possessions. And just when it seemed like the Tigers would let Arky back in the game with a third-quarter fumble, the defense forced a stop and the offense answered quickly.
The Razorbacks finished with 291 yards of total offense and 134 of those came on three plays. Save for a handful of lapses, this was a dominating effort. The kind we haven’t seen out of LSU since 2011. That’s some high praise for Ed Orgeron, who must now try to get two more wins over the next 10 days to see if he has a real shot at this job moving forward.
On to the film study…
- Dave Aranda’s gameplan was splendid, mixing in some zone coverage to help disrupt Austin Allen’s throwing windows on crossing routes, and some delayed blitzes that just gave the Razorbacks’ protection hell. Duke Riley was the usual culprit, and it was his late pressure that helped force Allen into Arden Key for the first sack of the night on Arky’s opening possession.
- LSU came right out and announced their presence on that first drive, which was critical in a spot like this on the road. Really let Arkansas know this wouldn’t be easy. The table-setter play was this 38-yard swing pass from Danny Etling to Leonard Fournette:
- Arkansas shows a double-A-gap blitz with man coverage across the board, and LSU adjusts well. The offensive line slides inside, leaving Etling responsible for the free rushing end. He throws the ball right over him and Fournette was completely uncovered.
- Fournette’s touchdown on the play was tremendously physical as well. Power-G toss, Maea Teuhema, Colin Jeter and Foster Moreau all create a great seal. Fournette just follows a nice lead block from JD Moore in for six.
- Arkansas responded with a nice drive that featured a couple nice completions to Jared Cornelius and Jeremy Sprinkle, but pressure from Key forced Allen to short-arm an open throw to the flat on third and one. Honestly, I’m a little surprised Bret Bielema didn’t go for it at that spot at midfield, given the boldness with which he typically approaches this game.
- The Tigers’ next drive didn’t net any points for LSU, but it featured a pair of signature plays that I think were big statements for the Tigers. First, this third and two run by Fournette:
- It’s a zone run to the field, but the Arkansas nose tackle gets a great push on Ethan Pocic, cutting off the hole. Thankfully, the backside blocking was strong enough to allow Fournette to cut back. There was only the last unblocked man on the line, and Etling comes up with a great block to give his teammate the edge. Quarterback blocking is usually a novelty – they either just get in the way or maybe go low and try to trip somebody up. But Etling just straight throws his shoulder into the defender. Picks up 12 yards, plus a 15-yard horse-collar penalty on the tackle.
- A few plays later, Derrius Guice drops a good ol’ fashioned playground shoulder on Arkansas’ DeAndre Coley.
- Coley would later knock himself out trying to return the favor in the second half.
- Defense keeps up the pressure on the very next series with a huge interception by reserve linebacker Donnie Alexander. He and Tashawn Bower both get great depth in their drops and stay with their men, and it looks like Allen either didn’t see Alexander, or thought he could get the ball past him to his receiver on a deep crossing route.
- Those zone drops also led to a number of very nice, hard, yet clean, hits by Kendell Beckwith on Arkansas receivers and running backs.
- Fournette gets tackled a bit awkwardly when Arkansas’ Bijhon Jackson blows up a wham block from Moore, but the Tigers keep rolling with a couple of nice play-action passes from Etling, including a nice 48-yarder to Malachi Dupre. Steve Ensminger began working in some constraints off of the jet-sweep look, particularly a power run where Will Clapp pulls right behind the jet motion to lead for the tailback.
- But on the next drive, Arkansas seems to finally answer when Devwah Waley breaks loose for 34-yards. The Razorbacks run a classic power-sweep out of the split-back set, and John Battle over runs the play a bit and gets caught outside of Beckwith and a pulling guard.
- And sure, Jamal Adams wound up on his butt, but he never let it bother him. Even congratulated Waley on a nice hit.
- It looks like the defense is going to hold after this splendid delayed blitz gets Riley a sack:
- From this angle you can see how Aranda has the numbers lined up, and from there Riley just reads the back. He moves out to help on the edge and Riley just accelerates through the open space.
- Of course, Arkansas still gets the score when Tre’davious White commits a freshman mistake on third and long. He slows up with receiver Dominique Reed and looks back to see if the ball is already in the air and Reed just keeps going. That marks the first completion of longer than 10 yards that White has allowed this season.
- Dave Aranda plays hell with protections, part 3:
- On third and 8, LSU is in their two-tackle dime package with Gilmore and Davon Godchaux lined at either 3-tech spot, and rolls Beckwith down over the center to create a “bear” front with all three interior linemen covered. The right guard flashes toward Beckwith for just a second, and that’s all Gilmore needs to shoot right by his outside shoulder. A back tries to pick him up but good luck on a 300-pounder with a head of steam like that. Key had a containment rush that forced Allen to step up and there was nowhere to go.
- Still not really sure why there was a review as to whether or not the ball hit the skycam wire. Never seen anybody care when that’s happened in the past. Either way, all that drive did was cause me to scream at Dan Skipper for a very obvious hold in the endzone.
- Tigers start playin’ with our emotions in that third quarter. First Etling throws one of the more nerve-racking checkdown passes that you’ll ever see, luckily completed. And then Fournette fumbles after what was a pretty nice run on second and long.
- But the defense holds, largely thanks to one of the most athletic plays you’ll ever see. Key stays with his assignment on a play-action roll, and comes an eyelash away from intercepting Allen simply by skying over the Arkansas fullback and getting two big mitts on the ball. He couldn’t pull it down, but Allen might have completed the pass to Keon Hatcher, otherwise. Given where Arkansas started with the ball, holding them to a field goal was huge.
- And the Tigers responded with a 7-play, 81-yard touchdown drive that started off with Fournette again ripping off a nice run on second-and-long after a holding penalty. It helped to set up a very clever play call from Ensminger with a “Flip-90” toss to Guice on third and one that picked up 38 yards. Etling faked the fullback dive – a play the Tigers had already showed a few times in this game – and Guice had Jeter out in front to help set the edge. He made one guy miss and just took off. Fournette picked up his third touchdown on another power run, behind another huge block from Moore, a few plays later. It felt like a dagger in a lot of ways, and showed some real mental toughness from this group.
- Of course, there was still more foot-shooting to come with a muffed punt by White. It almost felt like he was building towards it all game, with progressively more nervous catches.
- Not that it mattered, as the defense immediately forced an impressive three-and-out. Arkansas didn’t gain another first down until its final possession, which gained a quarter of their offensive yards and STILL ended in a turnover.
- Dwayne Thomas was one of six players to finish with at least five tackles in this game, but he had his best sequence in the fourth quarter, running down Rawleigh Williams on a 54-yard screen play that showed tremendous hustle, and then picking off Allen on the next play. Thomas had the receiver blanketed, just a terrible decision from Allen.
- It did, however, help to set up the coup de grace, and the longest play from scrimmage in LSU history.
- Guice has to kind of get this play going on his own. The nose tackle tries to just pull Pocic down on him to gum things up. Guice jumps over him, but Garrett Brumfield, Foster Moreau, Clapp and Teuhema had created a pretty nice alley beyond that one pile-up. Guice hit the sideline, hit the jets and frankly, it looked like Arkansas just gave up on the play.
- Just a huge rebound game for LSU in general in this one. Five-hundred, forty-seven yards of offense, 8.2 yards per play and a 50 percent conversion rate on third down. The Tigers started this one off with good energy and responded to every swing of the game that could have given the home team some momentum. The only way this game could have gone better, in my opinion, was to just ignore that big gold monstrosity and leave it up there. Two games left, both against teams that have stakes and grudges. Two more wins and Ed Orgeron has made as good of a case for this job as anybody could reasonably ask.