LSU will try to avoid another hangover against Hogs

Kyle Riviere
kriviere@weeklycitizen.com
The LSU defense held Alabama to more than 170 yards fewer than their season average. Photo by LSUsports.net.

Playing in the friendly confines of Tiger Stadium and under the leadership of a new head coach, things were supposed to be different for LSU’s Saturday night clash with Alabama. Unfortunately for the Tigers, they weren’t.

LSU fans had high hopes for the offense as they came into the night averaging 42 points a game in the team’s three victories under interim head coach Ed Orgeron. However, against the Tide’s top-ranked defense, they failed to score a single point.

The Tigers lost, 10-0, despite a superb performance by their defense.

Alabama’s offense was averaging 44 points a game coming into Saturday. LSU shut them out for the first three quarters.

Altogether, the Tide was held more than 170 yards less than their season average.

As amazing as they were, they got no support from the Tiger offense.

On two separate occasions, LSU forced Alabama turnovers in Tide territory. Both times, the offense failed to secure a single first down and was turned away with no points.

In getting shut out, LSU was only able to produce a putrid 125 total yards and six first downs.

After setting a new school record for most rushing yards in a game with 284 against Ole Miss, Leonard Fournette was held to just 35 yards on 17 carries. It was only slightly better than his 19-carry, 31-yard performance in last year’s loss to Alabama.

Quarterback Danny Etling was constantly battered and harassed throughout the course of the game. The Tide defense sacked him five times, and another jarring hit caused an errant throw that was picked off by Minkah Fitzpatrick.

The constant pressure seemed to rattle Etling as he missed open receivers on four separate occasions. Each miss would have resulted in Tiger first downs.

The last time LSU was shut out was back in 2014, when they endured an ugly 17-0 loss to Arkansas. That game followed a gut-wrenching 20-13 overtime loss to Alabama.

So, here the Tigers are, in the same position they were back in 2014. They must find a way to flush the failures of the Alabama game out of their systems and get ready for a solid Arkansas squad.

Their last two matchups with the Razorbacks following losses to the Tide the previous week have been disasters.

In 2014, they were shut out, and last season, they were beaten soundly in Tiger Stadium, 31-14.

In the two losses, LSU lost by a combined margin of 48-14 and only accumulated 453 combined yards.

Orgeron said that he’s confident that things will be different this year.

He said, “It’s time to move on. This is game five of our new season. It’s time to put this one away. I know we’re going to bounce back. This is not going to affect us.”

For that to happen, the Tiger defense will have to continue to play at the same high level. They’ll face an Arkansas offense that is averaging 31 points per game.

They put up 30 and 31 points against Alabama and Florida, respectively—two of the best defenses in the country.

Austin Allen has proven to be one of the top quarterbacks in the SEC. He has thrown for 2,291 yards and 19 touchdowns.

Arkansas has a very deep receiving corps. Drew Morgan, Jared Cornelius and Keon Hatcher all have at least 441 yards and have combined for 12 touchdowns.

Of course, under head coach Brett Bielema, the Razorbacks present a solid rushing attack. Behind a massive offensive line, Rawleigh Williams III has led Arkansas with 955 yards rushing and seven scores.

The biggest difference in Arkansas from the past two seasons is their defense. They have struggled on that side of the ball in 2016.

In all three losses, they gave up at least 45 points.

Arkansas ranks 43rd against the pass, but it’s against the run where they have really struggled.

The Razorbacks rank just 91st in run defense—yielding 198 yards per game. This includes a nightmarish performance against Auburn, when the Tigers assaulted them for an amazing 543 yards on the ground.

The Arkansas defense did play much better in their dominating 31-10 victory over Florida last week.

In the win, they gave up just 3 offensive points and only 241 total yards. Just 12 of those yards came on the ground.