FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Most don’t need to be reminded of it. Certainly not Arkansas linebackers. For everyone else, though, it bears recollection.
LSU absolutely smoked Arkansas on the ground last season.
Players and coaches are quick to say things like “last year was last year” or “we’re both different teams now.” But something about LSU trampling the Razorbacks to the tune of 390 yards rushing and 5 touchdowns doesn’t stray from memory so easily.
The yardage is supremely high. That, though, isn’t the weirdest part. The weirdest part seems like trivia, but it might hold some actual weight when the two teams play in Baton Rouge on Saturday.
Those 390 yards were more than LSU gained total in its three previous games against Arkansas.
Yes, Bret Bielema’s defenses, whether coached by Robb Smith or Chris Ash, had kept LSU bottled. Not even just a little. The Tigers’ yards rushing totals in the teams’ first three meetings in the Bielema era were 238, 36 and 59. Even dating back a year before Bielema arrived, in the John L. Smith era, Arkansas limited the Tigers to just 89 yards rushing.
If you’re looking for something — anything — to be optimistic about for Arkansas this weekend, maybe it’s that. History suggests the Razorbacks won’t be half-bad Saturday against one of the best rushing offenses in the country. Arkansas’ defense last year, too, didn’t have Dre Greenlaw, arguably its best linebacker, then.
Consider, too, that even if a bulk of the fan base has given up, the players and coaches haven’t. Arkansas is a team with visions of a seven-win season. A bowl, at least. The latter would require, probably, two more wins.
“It carries a lot of momentum for what we got, what we have in the future,” Greenlaw said. “That’s always the goal, is to [make it] that third straight. Hopefully, it does carry a lot momentum and we get rolling and get this thing turned around.”
That means stopping Derrius Guice and Darrel Williams. LSU’s top two backs have combined for 1,341 yards and 12 touchdowns. Guice ran for 252 of the 390 the Tigers racked up on Arkansas last season.
This is a bit personal for some Arkansas players, too. Dwayne Eugene set his career high in tackles in the LSU game last year. Wasn’t the way he wanted to do it, and he had to listen to Williams, his cousin, own bragging rights all offseason.
Frankly, not a soul on the Arkansas defense is interested in going through any of that again. Especially not this year, not with everything that’s gone on in 2017.
“They rushed the ball all over the field,” Eugene said. “I remember them taking the Boot from us. That was pretty painful to watch.”