As grades go, Arkansas’ 38-10 loss to LSU wasn’t as bad statistically as the Auburn game, but it comes close.
The biggest difference was the Tigers’ running backs were better. They hit some big runs that really made the Razorbacks defense look really, really bad at times.
OFFENSIVE LINE: F
Arkansas ran for just 81 net yards. With a goal of 200 yards per game that Brett Bielema has stated repeatedly, they couldn’t get halfway there. They were playing against one of the best defensive lines in college football, but this isn’t about effort … it’s results that matter and averaging 3.1 yards per rush isn’t going to win many games.
DEFENSIVE LINE: D
The flip side of the offensive line applies here. LSU averaged 7.6 yards per rush attempt. That will get you beat almost every time. It also allowed the Tigers to dominate the time of possession, a stat that almost always has to be in the Hogs’ favor every game, especially in the fourth quarter. LSU held the ball in that final period 10:51 to 4:09. Ouch.
RUNNING BACKS: D
To be fair, they didn’t have a lot of holes to run through, but there were some times when they simply didn’t hit a hole that was there. Rawleigh Williams III did make a correction on one lane read and broke a second attempt for a big gain, but they weren’t able to break enough big plays to take the pressure off the passing game.
WIDE RECEIVERS: C
Not a lot of glaring issues either way. Tight end Jeremy Sprinkle led the receivers with four catches and he was forced to stay involved in protection more than anyone wanted. Drew Morgan only had one catch, which is never good. In fairness, the Tigers are No. 14 in the country against the pass.
Before anyone starts hollering, this is not a reflection of the effort. No group tries harder, but is less equipped athletically to stop the better teams in the SEC. When good running breaks break through a hole, the Hogs’ linebackers simply don’t have the ability to get them on the ground quickly.
LSU quarterback Danny Etling didn’t make a lot of big plays, but he has the running game that doesn’t ask him to do that. He was 10-of-16 with a long gain of 48 yards. In run support, the secondary over-ran some plays and simply didn’t have the speed to catch Leonard Fournette or Derrius Guice once they were in the open.
Another steady performance. Toby Baker was the biggest weapon, averagin 43.1 yards per punt on seven kicks with three inside the 20-yard line. Adam McFain made his only field goal and two of his three kickoffs were touchbacks.
Deon Stewart had 117 yards on seven kickoff returns, but there was nothing spectacular or anything disastrous.
Austin Allen struggled. He was 15-of-31 with one touchdown, but two interceptions, including one on first down which will send coaches’ blood pressures through the roof. As the season has progressed, Allen’s performances have declined. Whether it’s due to self-imposed pressure or what, that’s the way it’s trending.
Bielema has said the team had a great week of preparation, so the performance is mystifying. The only conclusion that can be drawn is simply the planning was not accurate or the talent level simply wasn’t there. In either case, it comes back to the coaches. At times it appears the Jimmy’s and Joe’s can’t match the X’s and O’s drawn up in the game plan.