Dropping temperatures greet Hogs, Tigers
FAYETTEVILLE — The LSU Tigers hail from the typically hot and humid Baton Rouge, La., but the forecast projects freezing temperatures by the end of tonight’s game at Arkansas.
The Razorbacks (2-7, 0-5 Southeastern Conference) will host the Tigers (7-2, 4-2) at 6:30 p.m. at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. The game will be broadcast on the SEC Network (Resort Channel 79).
Arkansas’ lone victories this season came against Football Championship Subdivision member Eastern Illinois (2-7,
2-4 Ohio Valley Conference) and Tulsa (2-7, 1-4 American Athletic Conference).
Coach Ed Orgeron’s Tigers have beaten Georgia (8-1, 6-1), Mississippi State (6-3, 2-3), Auburn (6-3, 3-3) and Ole Miss (54, 1-4). Southeastern Louisiana
(4-6, 4-4 Southland Conference) is the lone non-conference cupcake on LSU’s schedule, which includes victories over Miami
(5-4, 2-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) and Louisiana Tech (6-3,
4-1 Conference USA). Other than Alabama (9-0,
6-0), LSU is the SEC school that scouts visit the most and where they linger the longest to evaluate prospects, especially on defense. LSU linebackers Devin White and Michael Divinity, defensive end Rashard Lawrence, safety Grant Delpit and cornerback Greedy Williams among other Tigers seem someday NFL bound.
“When you look at their back end, their secondary is as good as it gets,” Arkansas first-year head coach Chad Morris said. “These are all NFL guys that are going to play at a very high level on Sundays. They lead the league in (forcing) turnovers and interceptions. They’re second in the country in interceptions. And when you watch them, you can see why.
“They’ve got the size, they’ve got the speed, they break on the ball, experienced. And very physical. Their secondary is as good as we’ve seen. And Rashard Lawrence is as disruptive a D-lineman as we’ve seen. Michael Divinity, their Jack ‘backer, is very active. Then Devin White is one of the top linebackers in the country.”
Until the Alabama game, LSU’s offense had shown a real spark behind quarterback Joe Burrow, who transferred to Baton Rouge from Ohio State. He was 15-for-30 for 200 yards in a
36-16 win over Georgia. Johan Jefferson caught six passes for
108 yards in the game. Burrow also netted 66 rushing yards with two touchdowns on 13 carries. Running backs Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Nick Brosette combined for 210 yards on 32 rushing attempts.
Evan Alabama netted but one LSU turnover.
“Offensively, they do a really good job of not turning the ball over,” Morris said. “They only have eight turnovers all year long. So, that’s keeping you in a lot of games right there.”
But LSU does have a checkered bad weather history, like during 2000 in a 14-3 loss to a .500 Arkansas team in the pouring rain in Little Rock, or Arkansas’ 17-0 victory over the Tigers in 2014 under frigid conditions like what is predicted for tonight.
Native Louisianan Orgeron knows their aversion to the cold.
“It’s probably going to be cold,” Orgeron said “In our guys’ minds, we have to block that out. We have to get back on track.”
The elements are part of most Arkansas practices.
“We practice out in it,” Morris said. “Whether it is 35 degrees, 3 degrees or minus-3 degrees, it really has no bearing on the way we play. It’s a mindset for us.”
The Hogs had an open week to get over the disappointment of a 45-31 SEC loss on Oct. 27 in Fayetteville to Vanderbilt (4-5, 1-4) while the disappointment of losing badly to Alabama after the nationally biggest pregame acclaim for this season seems a LSU concern.
“We need to be careful about having a (Alabama) hangover and respecting Arkansas,” Orgeron said. “They put 31 points on Alabama and we didn’t put any. Obviously, we have to respect their football team. They’re going to play their best shot and it’s going to be a hostile crowd.”
At least six Arkansas players likely to play hail from Louisiana.
“They have talked about it with that being their home state it’s a big deal for them,” Morris said. “Every game is a big deal, but the opportunity to play a team from your home state, these guys take incredible pride in that.”