LSU at Arkansas

The Sports Xchange

November 07, 2018 at 6:21 pm.

KICKOFF: Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET
SITE: Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium, Fayetteville, Ark.
TV: SEC Network
SERIES: LSU leads 39-22-2. LSU won 33-10 in 2017.


–WR Justin Jefferson leads the team with 36 catches for 552 receiving yards and two touchdowns. LSU needs him to continue to produce if the offense is going to bounce back and have the balance necessary take pressure off the running game. The Tigers’ passing game has been inconsistent. With the exception of Jefferson, the talented but young receiving corps has failed to live up to expectations.

–LT Saahdiq Charles is one of the Tigers’ most important offensive linemen, but he has had an inconsistent season. He, like the line as a whole, had a difficult time against the Alabama defensive front. The line needs to rebound with a strong performance against the Razorbacks and Charles will be one of the keys.

–Rover Devin White had a much ballyhooed suspension against Alabama and by the time he was reinstated to start the second half, the Tide was rolling with a 16-0 lead and the team and the crowd were deflated. But White will be on the field from the get-go at Arkansas as he returns to his role as the defensive leader. He has a team-best 84 tackles with a sack and four quarterback hurries.


–RB Rakeem Boyd, a sophomore, continues to be Arkansas’ most consistent offensive weapon. Boyd rushed for 113 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries against Vanderbilt to post his fourth consecutive game with at least 99 yards. Over that stretch, he has carried the ball 63 times for 423 yards and two touchdowns.

–TE Cheyenne O’Grady, a junior from Fayetteville, caught six passes for 83 yards and a touchdown in the loss to Vanderbilt. His 21 receptions and four touchdown catches are both tied for the team lead.

–LB De’Jon Harris leads the Razorbacks in tackles with 93 with 7.0 for losses (2.0 sacks). The defensive leader also has forced a fumble and broken up five passes.

–LB Bumper Pool had a season-high 10 tackles against Vanderbilt. That gives the true freshman a season total of 23 tackles. He also has broken up four passes and has a 60-yard return of a fumble recovery.


Two teams with lowered expectations will clash when Arkansas hosts LSU on Saturday night in a matchup of Southeastern Conference West colleagues in Fayetteville.

The No. 7 Tigers (7-2, 4-2 SEC) saw their chance of winning the division and playing in the SEC title game vanish with last week’s loss to No. 1 Alabama, but they can still win 10 games and go to a major bowl game.

The Razorbacks (2-7, 0-5) are just beginning a rebuilding process under first-year coach Chad Morris.

With his team having an open date, Morris had the opportunity watch the LSU-Alabama outing on TV.

“It was two extremely talented teams,” Morris said told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. “That was a slugfest. You saw what I saw, which was guys just laying everything they had out on the field. I know we’ll get their absolute best. They’ll get our best this week and that’s what we ask for.”

Both of coach Ed Orgeron’s previous LSU teams bounced back from tough, physical losses to Alabama to beat Arkansas a week later. Those are two of the seven games Orgeron’s teams have played after a loss, and they won the other five also.

“This team’s got to be mentally tough,” Orgeron said. “We’ve got a lot to play for.”

The Tigers can still finish higher than their current ranking and play in an attractive bowl game, perhaps even a New Year’s Six contest.

The Razorbacks, on the other hand, won’t be going to a bowl and Morris lamented the loss of the additional 15 practices and subsequent player development that come with a postseason bid.

“Those 15 extra practices are so much a part of developing your young guys,” Morris said.

The coach said he might opt to look at some younger players, most notably freshman quarterback Connor Noland, in the remaining games.

“With Connor, just kind of see how the game goes,” offensive coordinator Joe Craddock told the Democrat-Gazette. “We’d like to get him in there if we can, but also … we’re going to be very cognizant of his redshirt. I don’t want to just burn it for one or two plays.”

Noland has played two of the four games players are now allowed without it costing them a year’s eligibility. He is 14-of-23 passing for 149 yards and a touchdown with an interception.

Defensive coordinator John Chavis said any increase in playing time for youngsters would take place only if it doesn’t jeopardize Arkansas’ chances of winning.

“We may lean that way, but we’re going to do everything to win,” Chavis said. “It’s win first, build second. If it means playing two linebackers the entire game and that’s the best way to win, then that’s what we’ll do. But certainly we’ve got to keep developing this football team here.”

Orgeron has yet to play sophomore quarterback Myles Brennan, who was the presumed starter until Joe Burrow joined the program as a graduate transfer from Ohio State after spring practice.

“Myles Brennan is ready to go every game,” Orgeron said. “There’s three games to go, there’s several players that can get more reps and still get redshirted, but I do want to put them in at the right time, I don’t want to put them in at the wrong time, and I want to make sure that he’s ready to go in.”

Orgeron said he is familiar with Morris’ offensive success as head coach at SMU and before that as offensive coordinator at Clemson. He is especially aware that the Razorbacks scored 31 points against Alabama. It was a 65-31 loss, but nonetheless that’s 31 more points than LSU scored against the Crimson Tide.

“I know what he can do, I know what he did at Clemson,” Orgeron said. “He’s an excellent game day caller. Their offense is becoming explosive. It’s becoming Chad Morris’ offense. He has a difficult scheme. He had an excellent game plan (against Alabama), so we do respect his offense.”