Tag Archives: #LSU

Best Catch Ever? Odell Beckham reels in one-handed TD grab

During the New York Giants game Sunday night against the Dallas Cowboys, former LSU receiver Odell Beckham Jr. made a one-handed touchdown catch that had social media asking this: Was it the best catch ever?

Here’s a Vine of the catch from Steve Noah, tweeted out by ex-LSU defensive back Tyrann Mathieu:

Wednesdays With Les: Porter likely done; Vadal back; Miles on QB situation

(Angela Major)

(Angela Major)

LSU coach Les Miles, on Wednesdays during game weeks, speaks publicly three different times. Follow his comments here throughout the day.

Radio show

Les Miles says that true freshman quarterback Brandon Harris is closing the gap between he and starter Anthony Jennings.

“Right now the guy who gives us the chance to make the other 10 players best is still Anthony Jennings,” Miles said, “but the difference between the two (QBs) is becoming closer.”

  • Miles on LSU offense vs. Texas A&M: “I think you’ll find that there will be a number of small changes. A little wrinkle here and there.”
  • At one point during the show, Miles said this when a caller criticized Jennings: “Miles on Jennings struggles: “It’s a lot easier when you have veteran receivers who are always where they’re supposed to be.”
  • Miles said LSU had a “terrible day” on offense against Arkansas and mentioned, again, that the Razorbacks used their off week to come up with a good game plan against the Tigers’ offense.

Post-practice

LSU could be without center Elliott Porter for the game against Texas A&M and the bowl game, coach Les Miles said Wednesday. That would end the senior’s career.

Porter injuried his ankle in the loss at Arkansas when running back Terrence Magee rolled into the back of his leg.

“Elliott, not so certain about this game, not so certain about the bowl game,” Miles said on Porter.

Left guard Vadal Alexander, who injured his hand in the loss to Alabama, will return for the game against Texas A&M on Thanksgiving Night.

With Porter likely out against the Aggies, Ethan Pocic will start at center, and Evan Washington will likely play right guard, Miles said.

  • Miles on Arkansas loading the box against LSU to stop the run: “We noticed that they had a nice little game plan. They really did. We needed not be as predictable – run and pass. We needed to hit. When we go to pass it, we need to complete it and throw better. Not throwing the ball like we can. We’ll throw the ball better in this game.”
  • Miles on Jennings’ performance against the Hogs: “He miss-threw two balls on the day. For the most part, played OK. And still needs to play better.”
  • Why does Jennings give LSU the best chance to win: “Takes care of the ball. Makes 10 other players better,” Miles said.
  • Miles said he’s “not ready to say” that Harris will play at Texas A&M, which is different from what the coach has said in the past. Miles has said for the last few weeks that Harris would play or have the opportunity to play. The freshman has not played significant time since his struggling start at Auburn.
  • So what’s Miles want to see from Harris? “The position takes some time. It’s motion, check, read the play. It’s an encompassing position. Certainly those are the things going to get him to the field. He has a natural arm, he can run and he’s competitive. We like him a lot. But is he … hopefully by the time we get to Saturday he’ll have taken some more steps and allows us to get him into the game.”
  • Jennings has taken criticism from fans for his play, specifically on Twitter. Said Miles: “He’s awfully motivated. Period. Nobody has to try to motivate him again. He understands what being the quarterback means. (The criticism is) not really the fan base. It’s the erratic and those guys whose opinions must be heard, which are not necessarily the fan base speaking out. Not necessarily with real information. They have the opportunity in social media and so they use it.”

SEC teleconference

LSU coach Les Miles said the Tigers have “assessed” things during their bye week, and the team is finding answers during the down time before the game against Texas A&M on Thanksgiving Night.

“We’re putting our collective thoughts together and looking forward to approaching the open week with good, quality answers,” the coach said. “We’ve kind of assessed some of the things we’re doing right and wrong and direction for our team.”

LSU (7-4, 3-4) enters a season finale tied with its worst record in Miles’ 10 years. The Tigers have lost two straight after winning three in a row.

  • Miles and LSU players were not injured during Arkansas’ field rushing, the coach said. Arkansas fans stormed the field after beating LSU for the Hogs’ first SEC win in two years. “It was certainly a wild scene,” the coach said.

Twitter Mailbag: You asked about Brandon Harris, offensive play-calling and more

Cam Cameron and Les Miles - you asked about them and LSU's offense. (Bill Feig)

Cam Cameron and Les Miles – you asked about them and LSU’s offense. (Bill Feig)

Twitter Mailbag is a blog series running each Tuesday answering readers’ questions about the LSU football team. Readers submit their questions through Twitter each Tuesday, and the best are posted here with answers. Follow us on Twitter at @DellengerAdv to submit a question.

We haven’t seen Paris play any significant time at cornerback this season, which is, somewhat, of a surprise. Paris was a highly rated prospect from Texas, but coaches clearly don’t think he’s completely ready for substantial play. Another year in the system could make a big difference.

The issue with that: Who’s Paris gonna play ahead of? LSU will likely have two returning cornerbacks in Jalen Collins and Tre’Davious White (Rashard Robinson’s status is very much in doubt). LSU is really deep in the secondary. Safety Ronald Martin will depart, but the Tigers have Jalen Mills, Rickey Jefferson and Jamal Adams.

I’m not sure LSU runs the exact same play to start each game. I’ll have to go back and check that out, but I do know the Tigers love to run the football. That’s what the offense is based around. LSU runs the ball 69 percent of the time, which leads the SEC. So, odds are the first play of the game will be a run.

Thing about play-action is, you want the defense to bite on the run. You’ve got to run the ball first – successfully – for that to happen.

I don’t think they’re very high. Harris will have a chance in the off-season to win the starting job – as he did last off-season. I expect the job to be up for grabs during spring practice, through the summer and into fall camp.

Les Miles gets paid $4.5 million a year. He’s the head coach. He’s the No. 1 guy. He’s the boss. If he wants to get involved in the play-calling, he can. And, yes, I believe he does have a part in the play calling.

During key situations, you’ll see Miles carrying around a play sheet. I’m sure he has a somewhat significant role in calling plays and in directing LSU’s offense.

If LSU is to put anyone in the Wildcat, it’s probably Terrence Magee. He’s also a former high school quarterback who has speed and a decent arm. Here’s the thing: LSU has a quarterback who can run. I’m not so sure the Wildcat would change things so much.

Center Elliott Porter is “doubtful” for the game at Texas A&M with an ankle injury suffered against Arkansas. Les Miles says LG Vadal Alexander is “likely” to play.

That leaves LSU’s offensive line with Ethan Pocic, the starter at right guard, at center, and Evan Washington or Hoko Fanaika at right guard. As you remember, Washington replaced Alexander at left guard against Arkansas and Fanaika at right guard for Pocic (after Porter was hurt), but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Washington start in place of Fanaika at right guard.

The question everyone wants answered. Look, there is a reason. There has to be, right? We saw Brandon Harris excel in his playing time in, mostly, every game except his first career start at Auburn.

So why no Harris? He goes from starting in an SEC road game to not seeing significant playing time in the next five games? It makes no sense. There is a reason here of some sort. Remember, we don’t get to watch practice. We aren’t in the quarterback meetings. We aren’t in the film room. Something may be happening behind closed doors to keep Harris off of the field.

Film Room: Arkansas 17, LSU 0

Welcome to Film Room, our weekly analysis of LSU’s last football game. Have a seat. No talking. No tweeting. No texting. Pay attention.

(click photos to enlarge)

How They Happened (big-play analysis)

Oh-line: Arkansas’ defensive front put pressure on LSU QB Anthony Jennings throughout the game Saturday. The Hogs sacked him four times, including this one in the third quarter on a third down that stalled LSU’s drive and resulted in a missed field goal.

  • This is just one of many plays in which the Tigers’ offensive line faltered, and Jennings felt pressure. It was one of the biggest of the game, though. LSU trailed 10-0 with about 8 minutes left and faced a third-and-6 from the Arkansas 20-yard line. Colby Delahoussaye followed the sack with a missed 47-yard field goal.JenningsSack
  • On this particular play, Arkansas went after the new guy on LSU’s offensive line: left guard Hoko Fanaika (black arrow). Fanaika is in for Ethan Pocic, who moved from right guard to center when Elliott Porter went down with an ankle injury. Arkansas DE Trey Flowers (red circle) acted as if he’ll rush off the edge at LT La’el Collins, but instead swung around and fired between Fanaika and LT Jerald Hawkins.
  • The fault appears to fall with Fanaika. Arkansas brought five men against LSU’s five linemen. Pocic helped with Fanaika’s guy, and Fanaika didn’t switch off and engage Flowers soon enough.

Tight end ‘imagination': On third-and-5 from the Arkansas 35, Hogs QB Brandon Allen hit wide open TE Hunter Henry for a 29-yard gain.

  • LSU coach Les Miles referred to Arkansas’ passing attack Saturday as having “imagination.” This is a perfect example of what he was talking about. The Razorbacks used their tight ends in a variety of ways, and LSU never really caught on in coverage. Of Allen’s 16 completions, nine went to a tight end.ArkTE
  • On this particular play, Arkansas brought each of its tight ends on crossing routes. The black circle is Henry, and the red circle is A.J. Derby (two players, by the way, who combined for eight catches in this game). They crossed in front LSU linebackers Kwon Alexander (black arrow) and Kendell Beckwith (red arrow). This caused a bust in coverage by, presumably, Beckwith.
  • Beckwith, it appears, is supposed to cover Henry, but he madea step toward Derby. That’s all Henry needed to get open. Alexander is seen at the snap pointing toward Henry, as if to direct Beckwith to cover him. Arkansas did this all game. Even safety Ronald Martin admitted afterward that the Razorbacks used their tight ends to get LSU’s “linebackers out of the pocket.”
  • Here’s an example of what Martin called a “tight end delay” that Arkansas used:

Shutting down the run: On the first play of the second half, LSU RB Leonard Fournette carried the ball for the final time – a 1-yard gain on a rush to the right side against an Arkansas team that stacked the box.

  • Like the rest of our screen shots in this week’s Film Room, this shot is one example of a reoccurring theme throughout the Tigers’ loss to the Hogs: Arkansas loaded the box. LSU’s three running backs had 49 yards on 18 carries.FournetteRun
  • On this play, Arkansas has what appears to be seven defenders in the box – a normal amount. And then came safety Alan Turner (red circle), rushing at full speed from his deep position just before the snap. When Fournette was handed the ball, Turner was within 5 yards of him and helped make the tackle.
  • Turner gave Arkansas eight defenders in the box to LSU’s seven blockers. That’s one unblocked player and a crowded area for a running back. Fournette had just five carries in the game. The Hogs had eight men in the box on three of them and seven in the box on the other two. He gained nine total yards.

Knowing the play: On first and 10 from the Arkansas 9-yard line, Terrence Magee loses a yard on a run to the right side. Find out why:

  • You’ll notice in the below Vine that Arkansas LB Martrell Spaight points – with two hands – at the lane in which Magee will run. The Razorback, via a signal from QB Anthony Jennings (we’ll get to that later) knew where the play was going.

  • Here’s what Spaight saw: Jennings tap his rear end with a certain signal to the fullback, Connor Neighbors, who then, usually, would tap his rear end to signal the running direction to the running back.

  • This seems to happen so often that ESPN color analyst Brock Huard says, after this play: “LSU will give you some tips sometimes, whether it’s line calls, whether fullback or guards tapping rear ends…”
  • More Huard: “This offense doesn’t care at times whether you know where and when it’s coming, they’re still going to run it right at you.”
  • Joe Tessitore, the play-by-play man then follows with this: “Watch that fullback for some of those tells here in the run game.”
  • Here’s Arkansas reading Jennings’ signal again on a play later in the game:

Big Ugly Blips and Booms (O-line analysis)

  • Before we get into who struggled and who excelled in blocking, let’s first look at LSU’s 22 designed runs against Arkansas. The Hogs – as we’ve noted in a few big-play breakdowns above – loaded the box. Here’s a breakdown:
  1. Designed runs: 22
  2. Yards: 68 (3.09 average per rush)
  3. Average Arkansas defenders in the box: 7.59
  4. Average LSU blockers: 7.45
  5. Times Arkansas had more men in box than LSU blockers: 6
  6. Times LSU had more blockers than Arkansas defenders: 3
  7. Times blockers and defenders were the same: 13
  • As you see, the Hogs really loaded the box. They had bodies everywhere, clogging running lanes. Should LSU have checked out of a few of those runs when the Hogs piled into the box? Probably.
  • That said, the offensive line had one of its worst games of the season, especially pass-blocking. Here’s that breakdown:
  1. Jennings dropbacks: 27
  2. Jennings pressures: 14
  • There were clear and obvious communication issues at times on the O-line, in part because the Tigers were playing much of the game without two starters (Vadal Alexander and Elliott Porter). Jerald Hawkins had four missed blocks during pass protection, and Porter had three. Evan Washington and Hoko Fanaika, the new guys, had two each.
  • Ethan Pocic may have played better than an linemen. He had three booms, more than anyone, and had just one blip (in pass protection).
  • Here’s a slow-motion replay of Porter’s bad snap on LSU’s second offensive play of the game:

  • And, now, for Porter’s injury in the second quarter. RB Terrence Magee accidentally took out the center’s leg, leading to what appears to be a fairly severe ankle injury. Remember, Miles said Porter is “doubtful” for LSU’s game at Texas A&M:

Monday Morning Quarterback (QB analysis)

  • Jennings was under duress a ton in this game, as we’ve mentioned quite a bit, but he made some poor passes and decisions. He misfired on about five to six throws (about his average per game), but he also made a few great plays while under intense pressure. Here’s an example of two of them on a drive in the second quarter:

  • Where there’s good, there’s bad. Here’s one example of a poor decision by Jennings. He misses what appears to be a touchdown to TE Dillon Gordon (red circle). Instead, Jennings throw to Travin Dural (black arrow), who’s covered. The pass fell incomplete.

IMG_2373

  • Jennings also struggled with the long ball. He had a couple of underthrows to Travin Dural and Malachi Dupre.

Backing It Up (RB/FB analysis)

  • LSU’s running backs struggled at times, too, in pass protection. Terrence Magee and Williams each had a mistake on pass blocking. The running backs didn’t have much room to run. Just one real large hole opened during this game – and Magee picked up 12 yards on the play.
  • Connor Neighbors didn’t have his best game in run blocking. He had two blips, and Melvin Jones didn’t play at all.

Five-yard Out (WR analysis)

  • First off, WR Trey Quinn wasn’t targeted at all, and he played in only one or two plays against Arkansas – likely punishment for two crucial drops late in the loss to Alabama.
  • In 22 attempts, Jennings targeted Travin Dural eight times. He targeted a running back or fullback seven times, including five to Terrence Magee.

Front Seven (D-line/LB analysis)

  • The front seven played well enough to win this game. Christian LaCouture continues to show his growth from the beginning of the season. He excelled. Here’s one example:

  • Here’s a good play from LSU defensive end Danielle Hunter, all of this showing that the defense had a solid game and did enough:

  • All of that said, the linebackers didn’t have their best game, especially in defending the pass. Arkansas took advantage of that, completing nine of 16 passes to tight ends. Many times, tight ends would act as if they were blocking and then spring out to the flats for a wide open pass. Presumably, the tight ends are the linebacker’s men to cover.

Break It Up (DB analysis)

  • Tre’Davious White committed pass interference that set up an Arkansas touchdown, and Jalen Mills had issues covering a receiver – a catch on second and long that eventually helped the Razorbacks extend a drive.  Other than that, the secondary was pretty quiet. As mentioned above, the Hogs went after LSU’s linebackers in the passing game, and it worked.
  • Mills and safety Ronald Martin had a shot to make what could have been a game-changing play. They couldn’t recover a fumble inside the Arknasas 30 with LSU trailing 10-0 in the third quarter:

Screen shots courtesy of ESPN.

Postgame: Arkansas 17, LSU 0

LSU players walked to the locker room while Arkansas fans stormed the field. (Bill Feig)

LSU players walked to the locker room while Arkansas fans stormed the field. (Bill Feig)

The Game Story

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Alabama’s crushing, dramatic overtime win over LSU last week carried 530 miles north.

The Tigers laid an egg in chilly northwest Arkansas — a goose egg.

LSU’s offense bumbled and stumbled, its defense finally wilted, and its once-promising season spiraled to mediocrity.

The Tigers mustered just 123 yards, and the Razorbacks whipped No. 20 LSU 17-0 on Saturday night to snap a 17-game Southeastern Conference losing streak and get their first win over a ranked team in three years.

Read the rest here.

The Turning Point

Arkansas amassed a 12-play, 55-yard drive, ending with a touchdown with 11 minutes left in the game. Against an LSU team that struggles to pass the ball, a 17-point lead early in the fourth quarter was more than enough.

The Stars

  • RB Jonathan Williams: Williams ran for 55 hard yards on 18 carries, just a 3.1-yard average, but good enough. He had that game-clinching touchdown early in that fourth quarter.

    Brandon Allen converted third downs. (Travis Spradling)

    Brandon Allen converted third downs. (Travis Spradling)

  • QB Brandon Allen: Allen finished 16 of 27 for 169 yards. Those aren’t impressive numbers, but Allen was responsible for helping Arkansas convert numerous drive-extending third downs.
  • LB Martrell Spaight: He had a whopping 10 tackles and a sack, helping slow down an LSU rushing attack that had just 36 yards – nearly 200 below its average.

The Surprise

  • Rushing woes: LSU, as we mentioned above, had just 36 rushing yards on 32 carries – an average of 1.1 yards a carry. The Tigers had averaged 220 yards a game. Arkansas loaded the box and was bent on stopping the run. The Hogs did.

The Key Matchup

  • LSU O-line vs. Arkansas DL: A shuffled offensive line struggled to get any kind of push, and Jennings was sacked four times. LSU LG Vadal Alexander didn’t play in the game because of a hand injury he suffered against Alabama, and center Elliott Porter went out with an injury in the second quarter.

The Numbers

  • 10: Third downs Arkansas converted out of 17 chances.
  • 123: Total offensive yards for LSU.
  • 4: Times Jennings was sacked.

The Quote

“We got those guys’ back no matter what.” safety Ronald Martin on the offense

Game Day: LSU vs. Arkansas

DT Christian LaCouture has been a big reason why LSU's run defense has improved. (Travis Spradling)

DT Christian LaCouture has been a big reason why LSU’s run defense has improved. (Travis Spradling)

This blog will updated with pregame notes and news starting at about three hours before kickoff.

UPDATES

  • 6:45: A team spokesman confirms that Evan Washington will start in place of Vadal Alexander.
  • 6:25: Evan Washington is practicing with the first string at left guard in place of Vadal Alexander. Looks like he’ll be the starter.
  • 5:12: LSU starting left guard Vadal Alexander didn’t make the trip with the team. More here. 
  • 4:50: It apparently sleeted on the LSU team bus on the way to the stadium, according to Michael Bonnette.

  • 4:05 p.m.: Live shot at Razorback Stadium.

The Info

  • Match: No. 20 LSU (7-3, 3-3) vs. Arkansas (4-5, 0-5)
  • TDP: 7:06 p.m., Saturday, Razorback Stadium, Fayetteville
  • TV: ESPN2 (Joe Tessitore, Brock Huard, Shannon Spake)
  • Series Record: LSU leads 37-20-2

Players To Watch (LSU)

  • DT Christian LaCouture: LaCouture is one of the few cold weather guys on the team, having been raised in the northeast (he spent his last year of high school in Nebraska). His growth and improvement throughout the season has been a key part in LSU’s recent success against the run.
  • RB Leonard Fournette: The freshman needs just 20 yards rushing at Arkansas to surpass Jeremy Hill for fourth on LSU’s all-time freshman rushing list. He’ll likely need more than 20 if LSU’s gonna win this one. The Tigers will be without senior Kenny Hilliard for the final two games.

    Colby Delahoussaye has missed two fields goal in his career. (Angela Major)

    Colby Delahoussaye has missed two fields goal in his career. (Angela Major)

  • PK Colby Delahoussaye: Delahoussaye has missed just two field goals in 25 career attempts. He’ll face the most adverse kicking conditions of, maybe, his career as a kicker (including high school days in New Iberia). These two run-heavy teams are likely to be locked in a low-scoring close game – a match in which a kicker is needed.

Players To Watch (Arkansas)

  • QB Brandon Allen: Allen is not the same quarterback who played at LSU last season. He’s improved and is completing 57 percent of his passes. He’s thrown just five interceptions to 15 touchdowns.
  • WR Keon Hatcher: Who? I’m sure that’s what you’re thinking. Hatcher had seven catches for 84 yards last season in the Hogs’ loss at LSU. He’s Arkansas’ leading receiver with 32 catches for 410 yards. LSU’s secondary is one of the best in the nation, but the Tigers are down two semi-starters (Rashard Robinson and Dwayne Thomas).
  • DE Trey Flowers: Flowers had a sack against LSU last season, and he’s got a team-leading 9.5 tackles for loss this year. LSU’s offensive tackles – Jerald Hawkins and La’el Collins – have their hands full.

Key Matchup

  • LSU run game vs. Arkansas run defense: This seems like the Key Matchup each week, but that’s just how it goes with this LSU football team. If the Tigers can run, they can win. Arkansas allowed Georgia and Auburn to both rush for more than 200 yards.

The Opponent (Sagarin ratings)

  • Sagarin rating: No. 30
  • Best win: 49-28 over No. 81 Texas Tech
  • Worst loss: 35-28 (OT) to No. 16 Texas A&M
  • Sagarin strength of schedule: No. 5
  • Record vs. Sagarin Top 30: 0-5

The Series

Last 10

  • 2013: LSU 31-27 (Baton Rouge)
  • 2012: LSU 20-13 (Fayetteville)
  • 2011: LSU 41-17 (Baton Rouge)
  • 2010: Arkansas 31-23 (Little Rock)
  • 2009: LSU 33-30 OT (Baton Rouge)
  • 2008: Arkansas 31-30 (Little Rock)
  • 2007: Arkansas 50-48 3OT (Baton Rouge)
  • 2006: LSU 31-26 (Little Rock)
  • 2005: LSU 19-17 (Baton Rouge)
  • 2004: LSU 43-14 (Little Rock)

Biggest series wins

  • LSU: 36-4 (32 points) in 1908
  • Arkansas: 51-0 (51 points) in 1910

The Spread

Arkansas -1

Pick 6: Q and A with an Arkansas beat reporter

Robbie Neiswanger, while also joining us for this week’s Pick 6, is urging the Arkansas athletic department to move Saturday’s game to the Caribbean island of Aruba – and out of chilly northwest Arkansas (where 20-degree temps and snow await).

Aruba, the new site of LSU-Arkansas (not really).

Aruba, the new site of LSU-Arkansas (not really).

We’re hoping his plight his fruitful, but we are not confident. We are confident in his knowledge of the Hogs, and he shares that with us in this Q&A.

You can follow Robbie on Twitter at @NWARobbie and read his work here.

1. Arkansas has played a few teams down to the wire – Texas A&M, Alabama, Mississippi State – but the Hogs’ 17-game SEC losing streak continued. What’s the feeling up in Fayetteville about where the program is and where it’s headed in Year 2 under Brett Bielema?

The improvement in Year 2 is really clear. The Razorbacks have more talent, experience and depth. They’re much more physical on both sides of the ball. It’s easy to see what Bielema is trying to build.

They just haven’t experienced a breakthrough in SEC play. That’s why there’s plenty of frustration for everyone involved – players, coaches and fans. Arkansas knows it’s making progress, but it’s about time to see the rewards. No one around the state wants to see the skid extend to 2015.

2. Temperature at kickoff is expected to be around 30 degrees with possible snow. What’s Arkansas doing to prepare for playing in such conditions?

The Razorbacks are getting out in the cold. Bielema said Monday his team would “embrace the chill” and the Hogs have done so.

Arkansas has an indoor practice facility, but worked in the stadium while temperatures were in the 30s on Tuesday and Wednesday. Bielema’s belief is that the week-long acclimation will give his team an advantage on Saturday night. So Arkansas is trying to make the most of it.

3. Arkansas is 12th nationally, averaging 5.7 yards a rush. Why are they so good at running the football?

Alex Collins is one of a two-part Arkansas rushing attack that averages 5.7 yards a carry. (AP)

Alex Collins is one of a two-part Arkansas rushing attack that averages 5.7 yards a carry. (AP)

To be honest, Arkansas has done a good job of mauling smaller defenses. The majority of their rushing production came against Nicholls State, Texas Tech, Northern Illinois and UAB.

The Razorbacks have only cracked 200 yards in SEC play once – and it came more than a month ago against Texas A&M. They’ve had other issues, too, getting stuffed in key short-yardage situations against the Aggies, Alabama and Mississippi State.

Statistically, Arkansas has been a solid rushing team. The Razorbacks have two talented backs and a big offensive line. But they know there’s a lot of room for improvement and get their next chance Saturday.

4. The Hogs need to win two of their last three games to reach bowl eligibility. Do you think this happens and how will the fan base take another bowl-less year if it doesn’t happen?

I’m not comfortable saying a team that hasn’t won an SEC game in more than two years can win two in three weeks. I just don’t know. It feels like Arkansas is going to break through and snap the skid before the season ends, but there’s no Vanderbilt on this schedule.

But I do believe Arkansas will be within reach during each of its final three games against LSU, Ole Miss and Missouri. This team just has to figure out how to make plays in the fourth quarter to win one. Then another.

There will be disappointment if there’s no bowl, but I think the biggest thing is finding a way to end this streak. Finishing 5-7 overall, 1-7 in the SEC doesn’t look great, but it’s so much better than dragging a 20-game losing streak through the offseason.

5. How far has Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen come since the start of last season?

QB Brandon Allen is a much different player than the one LSU saw last season. (AP)

QB Brandon Allen is a much different player than the one LSU saw last season. (AP)

Allen was a first-year starter who had a shoulder injury that limited his ability to practice over the final eight weeks of the season in 2013. Not exactly a recipe for success.

He has been healthy this year, is much more comfortable and it shows. Allen’s passing numbers are up and the mistakes are down. He has command of the offense and has earned the trust of his teammates.

It’s no surprise Arkansas is better because of it. That doesn’t mean Allen has become an elite quarterback. He’s 0-14 as a starter in SEC games after all. He has thrown interceptions at critical points in two games (Alabama and Mississippi State) and has looked erratic at other times. But there’s no doubt he’s better than the quarterback LSU saw last season.

6. Where can LSU exploit Arkansas’ defense?

That’s much more difficult to answer this year because Arkansas has tightened up under first-year coordinator Robb Smith. It’s not as easy to run on the Hogs, who have given up 200 or more rushing yards only twice (Auburn and Georgia).

There has been improvement on the back end, too, with the secondary playing with much more confidence. But Arkansas still isn’t rock-solid back there. Miscommunication left a receiver open for a 69-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter at Mississippi State. Texas A&M hit the Hogs for two big plays in the fourth quarter as well.

So LSU — which stung Arkansas with a big pass play last season — could have opportunities downfield if it can take advantage of them Saturday.

Times Of Interest: LSU vs. Arkansas

The Boot trophy will on display on the LSU sidelines Saturday. (Bill Feig)

The Boot trophy will on display on the LSU sidelines Saturday. (Bill Feig)

Friday
10 a.m.                                  The Boot arrives at Razorback Stadium 
1:55 p.m.                              Team departs campus
2:45 p.m.                              Charter flight departs Baton Rouge Airport
4 p.m.                                    Team arrives in Bentonville, Ark.   
4:40 p.m.                              Team arrives at Embassy Suites in Rogers, Ark.   
Saturday
3 p.m.                                   Boot unpacked and put on display on LSU sidelines
4:30 p.m.                              Team departs hotel for stadium 
5 p.m.                                    Team arrives at stadium
7:02 p.m.                              Arkansas takes the field
7:02:30 p.m.                         LSU takes the field
7:03 p.m.                              Coin toss at midfield                       
7:06 p.m.                              Kickoff: LSU at Arkansas on ESPN2  

Twitter Mailbag: You asked about the QBs, getting over Bama, the QBs and the QBs

The quarterbacks were a hot topic this week. (Travis Spradling)

The quarterbacks were a hot topic this week. (Travis Spradling)

Twitter Mailbag is a blog series running each Tuesday answering readers’ questions about the LSU football team. Readers submit their questions through Twitter each Tuesday, and the best are posted here with answers. Follow us on Twitter at @DellengerAdv to submit a question.

For those who don’t know, Kenny Hilliard and Terrence Magee are seniors. The only returning backs LSU will have are Leonard Fournette and Darrel Williams.

Miles likes having a running back by committee approach, and I think he’ll always lean on two to three backs, but one is always the featured guy. This year, that’s been Fournette.

Fournette has 151 carries, Hilliard has 87, Magee 81 and Williams 55. I would expect to see Fournette’s carries increase next season, and that goes for Williams too.

Ah, the question everyone wants answered: Should Brandon Harris get playing time in these last two games?

Look, a championship is out of reach, yes, but LSU can still win double digit games for the fifth straight year – a school record. Miles, I’m sure, would rather finish the regular season 9-3 than 7-5. There’s a big difference there.

I expect Miles to start/play the best players who give him the best chance to win a game. Of late, that’s been Anthony Jennings at QB. But there’s no denying this fact: Harris is more talented and has even been dubbed by Miles as the program’s future. Maybe he should see more series in these last two games than he’s seen on a normal basis.

Another quarterback questions!? Well, of course. LSU has two quarterbacks committed over the next two classes:

– 2015: Justin McMillian, 3 star, 38th ranked dual-threat QB

– 2016: Feleipe Franks, 4 star, 1st ranked dual threat QB

McMillian, according to recruiting analysts, isn’t a guy who could play immediately. Franks is, they say.

The loss is lingering. There’s no denying that after we spoke with players on Monday. It’s a tough one to swallow, and I expect the hangover to stretch deep into the week.

This is a tough week for LSU. I can’t imagine a more difficult turnaround than this:

Lose in dramatic fashion at home against a top-5 rival in a physically exhausting game and then travel to a lengthy road game to play in 30 degree temperatures and possible snow against a team that hasn’t hasn’t won an SEC game in two years but has been playing well.

Tough one.

I’m gonna pass on your first questions (sorry), and take your second.

Keep in mind that LSU won’t have the type of underclassmen departures it had the last two seasons (16 overall: 10 in 2012 and 6 in 2013). But a few could bail early. Here’s a list of potential juniors and redshirt sophomores who could leave early:

  • LG Vadal Alexander
  • RT Jerald Hawkins
  • WR Travin Dural
  • DE Danielle Hunter
  • CB Jalen Mills
  • LB Kwon Alexander

Do I expect all of these guys to leave? No. Do I expect half to leave? Maybe. That’s probably more realistic is that 2-3 will leave.

QB question No. 3! Jennings has struggled, but at the same time, LSU is 7-2 this season with him as the starting quarterback. As long as LSU keeps winning at that rate and Jennings doesn’t find the turnover bug, Miles will keep AJ as his quarterback.

That said, Jennings’ struggles this season likely leave the starting job open during the off-season. Expect another off-season battle to rage for the gig. I would look for something similar to last year, with Harris and Jennings fighting it out in the spring and during fall camp.

QB question No. 4! I still want to win my remaining games. As mentioned above, there’s a big difference between being 9-3 and 7-5.

At the same time, I want to give Brandon Harris more live game action than he’s seen. Maybe Harris plays two series in the first half and two series in the second half in the next two games? I wouldn’t expect that to happen. But that may be what I would do.

Scott Rabalais rounds up the national bowl projections each week and posts them on Thursdays so check back here for that tomorrow (Thursday).

That said, the TaxSlayer Bowl has been a popular pick for LSU over the last few weeks. That’s the old Gator Bowl in Jacksonville.

Wednesdays With Les: Hilliard day-to-day, Talkin’ the cold, recovering from Bama

This is a doctored photo. (Getty images)

This is a doctored photo. (Getty images)

LSU coach Les Miles, on Wednesdays during game weeks, speaks publicly three different times. Follow his comments here throughout the day.

Radio show

Freshman linebacker Clifton Garrett will “probably” be redshirted this season, coach Les Miles said on his radio show Wednesday night.

Garrett played in two games this season – against New Mexico State and Louisiana-Monroe. Garrett was a five-star rated product from Illinois ranked as the No. 2 outside linebacker in the nation.

Miles also said linebacker Ronnie Feist would redshirt, but Feist redshirted last season. He’ll be a junior next season.

Said Miles on Garrett: “I think he’s a perfect Mike linebacker, and he’s progressing extremely well. Very talented guy. Has great size but runs extremely well. He’s going to be a very good linebacker.”

  • Miles on QB Brandon Harris playing: “He’ll have an opportunity in the next several games to show his wares and play some more.”
  • Miles asked against about Jennings being replaced with Harris: “If it looks lik it’s best for us to win the game to substitute another QB, we will absolutely do that. For me, it’s the best opportunity for victory, the guy who has the greatest chance to help us win the game. Frankly, Brandon Harris is getting closer and closer. We’d love to get him in the game.”
  • Sounds more and more like running back Kenny Hilliard won’t play in the Tigers’ game at Arkansas. “Kenny got a little practice time today. I’m not necessarily certain he’s slated for duty,” the coach said. Hilliard suffered a shoulder injury against Alabama.
  • With a win at Arkansas, LSU will have won eight games for the 15th straight season. That’s the most in college football and something Jim Hawthorne brought up to Miles. Said the coach: “The single motivating factor of winning the game is such a wonderful feeling, I don’t think we need much more.”

Post-practice

RB Kenny Hilliard is “day (to) day” heading into the game against Arkansas, coach Les Miles said Wednesday.

Hilliard injured his shoulder in the loss to Alabama on this play – the third play of the game. Hilliard collided with Bama safety Landon Collins, injuring the left shoulder. He did not return to the game, and CBS reported that he suffered a shoulder stinger.

Miles said he didn’t know if Hilliard had practiced on Wednesday.

  • In preparation for the cold weather at Arkansas, Miles said LSU’s staff has “done a lot of research.” Former LSU DT and current Buffalo Bills player Kyle Williams gave the staff some “pointers” on dealing with the cold weather. “Our gear has been properly outfitted for weather and we’re going to be a little bit more equipped in terms of the heaters on the sidelines,” he said. ” I think our team is looking forward to it. Think it’s going to be fun. I think our guys recognize the uniqueness of a real cold weather game.”
  • LB Kendell Beckwith, who strained his hamstring against Alabama, practiced Wednesday in full, the coach said. Beckwith said Monday that the hamstring felt “pretty sore” and that he had not received many reps in practice that day.
  • Meanwhile, at LSU football practice Wednesday, assistant athletics director Sam Nader showed up with no shirt on. Temperatures at practices were in the high 40s. Here’s a shot from Michael Bonnette:

SEC teleconference

(this was a joke by Les Miles on the dry ice)

LSU is using dry ice and giant fans to  simulate the impending cold weather the Tigers will face Saturday against Arkansas. Temperatures at kickoff are expected to be around 30 degrees with a 70 percent chance of snow.

The Tigers have surrounded their practice field in dry ice, and giant fans are blowing across the ice, pushing the cold onto the field.

Miles said “that hasn’t worked very well.”

LSU will practice outside Wednesday afternoon in what could be the coldest weather the Tigers have been in yet this season. It’s expected to be in the mid-to-low 50s this afternoon in Baton Rouge.

“Hopeful for as cold as it gets,” Miles said.

Miles says his team is ready for the cold temperatures in Fayetteville.

“I think we’ll be fine. I think our guys have a smile on their face thinking, ‘This is going to be cold,'” Miles said. “The weather is what it is. Make adjustments to things you’re willing to do. We’re both suited for game of bad weather.”

Miles said the coldest game he coached in was while at Michigan in a game at Minnesota. He said he can’t remember playing in any bitter cold games, but he has memories of playing football in the snow in his neighborhood as a child.

“Thanskgiving Day game in the neighborhood and having socks on my hands and playing in snow and having a blast,” he said.

  • The loss is still somewhat lingering for LSU and its players. Even Miles admits that. “There’s residue from a game like that. Proud of how you play. Reward in the finish didn’t get,” he said. That said, the coach said LSU will “be ready for Arkansas.”
  • LSU will be facing one of the best rushing offenses in the nation. In fact, these two teams run the ball more than most, and Miles said there’s a chance to be 50 rushing attempts on each side. Miles on facing Arkansas’ run: “We’re a team that’s run against it in the spring and two-a-days. Strap it on and go play.”