What’s the saying? If you have two quarterbacks, you really have none? Well, what if you have two quarterbacks and one has been great for most of the year while the other one has been suspended, but now that quarterback is playing good football? Hard to say to be honest, but that’s exactly what Les Miles has to figure out on Friday afternoon.
QB Jarrett Lee held the Tigers together in Jordan Jefferson’s absence, but Lee’s struggles against Alabama opened the door for Jefferson. His ability to run the option gave Alabama some issues, the only issue the Tide had with the LSU offense. But, he completed all seven of his passes against Ole Miss and is ready to be “the Man” yet again. Jefferson is a better option to run the football against Arkansas and having to prepare for his option talent and running ability is an issue for the Hogs this Friday.
But, over the past couple of years, Lee has been a factor in big games at home and in his last game in Baton Rouge, wouldn’t you like to see this guy do something to help LSU win this game after all that he’s been through in his five years on campus?
The SEC doesn’t have a plethora of offensive stars. Alabama’s Trent Richardson is the most well known and the biggest game breaking threat in the conference. But other than him, the most dangerous offensive weapons in the conference are Arkansas WR/PR Joe Adams and WR Jarius Wright.
Now, Adams doesn’t have the numbers that Wright has, but in combination, these two give the Arkansas offense a chance to move the ball effectively against LSU. If you haven’t seen Adams’ punt return for a touchdown against Tennessee, you missed the SEC Play of the Year. He has an electricity about him and he can make people miss in space.
Wright, on the other hand, is a more complete receiver, catching the football in every area on the field. Seeing these two tangle with Morris Claiborne and Tyrann Mathieu is going to be the best part of the day. Both LSU stars have proven to be great man cover guys, but Arkansas’ passing game utilizes various ways to get them open. Neither Arkansas receiver wants to be disrupted at the line of scrimmage, so expect head coach Bobby Petrino to use one or the other in motion to give them some space to get free and out in their route.
Most fans, analysts and experts that don’t give Arkansas much of a chance to win this game point to the Alabama game as the reason why it won’t be close. They’ll argue that if Arkansas got smashed by Alabama, the team LSU beat on November 5th, then what shot does Arkansas have against LSU? It’s a good argument; however, this isn’t the same team that played that day in Tuscaloosa.
The biggest difference for Arkansas is that its two starting defensive ends are back in the lineup and have been for the past couple of weeks – Jake Bequette and Tenarius Wright. Bequette didn’t even dress for the Alabama game and Wright got hurt in that Alabama game, missing the rest of that game and the next four games. Bequette made it back into the lineup by the Auburn game, but Wright didn’t make it back until the Tennessee game two weeks ago.
However, since both have been back on the field together, the Hogs defense has been fantastic, giving up only 12 points per game in those two wins. Bequette’s relentless rush ability will give LSU a ton of problems off the edge, while Wright’s ability to beat one-on-one edge protectors is a major key for this defense. With these two controlling the edge, LSU won’t be able to do much downhill running outside the tackles. This gives Arkansas DC Willy Robinson the advantage of running more inside stunts, twists and games to keep the Tigers from bruising the interior of the Arkansas defense. He can do this because he knows that he has a much different looking team than the one that took the field a couple of months ago in Tuscaloosa.
Although I think the Alabama litmus test for Arkansas is a bad comparison point, I do believe that the Hogs are a bit over their heads in this one. LSU’s defense matches up well with Arkansas’ best offensive assets. There are no weaknesses on this LSU defense and the matchup of Morris Claiborne/Tyrann Mathieu against Adams and company is worth the price of admission.
However, LSU’s front will make it ultra-difficult for QB Wilson to locate his talented wide receivers for big gains. Now, that said, West Virginia’s Geno Smith was the last legitimate QB that LSU faced and he threw for 463 yards against the Tigers. Wilson will have some moments, but in the end, the Tigers are just too good at home, especially if they don’t turn the ball over. They won’t.