Plain and simple: Arkansas was flat beat against LSU on Saturday.
The Razorbacks didn’t win any single area of the game except extra points. LSU’s defense was better than Arkansas’ offense. The Tigers offense was better than Arkansas’ defense. Both special teams were brutal.
The game plan might have worked against an inferior team, but in the Battle for the Boot, it was a no-go. LSU won, 33-10.
Here’s how SEC Country graded the performance of each Razorbacks position group from the loss:
Austin Allen made his first start in a month. Despite claims he was 100 percent, Allen didn’t look it. He underthrew a handful of passes, a couple of which would have meant Arkansas first downs, at worst. On the short stuff, he was fine and a few of them ended up going for large chunks.
The running game was a bit all over the map. Devwah Whaley had moments. David Williams did, too. Arkansas looked like it would get T.J. Hammonds more involved this week, but 3 carries in the first half yielded zero yards. Hammonds didn’t touch it again after that.
That’ll be a talking point this week. Against an average defense, Arkansas would have put up more points and yards. But LSU was too good and Allen too hurt.
For a half, Arkansas’ defense was decent. Not great. But passable.
The grade came crashing down in the second half, though. LSU just wore Arkansas down. Derrius Guice ran for 147 yards and 3 touchdowns. Like LSU backs of the past, he just gets better as the game goes on.
Arkansas’ secondary was burned more for big plays than loads of plays. The 2 touchdown passes from Danny Etling to DJ Chark were of 45 and 68 yards, respectively.
No surprise. The Razorbacks have given up big plays all year long. And just like those other games, if they would have avoided it, the game is a lot closer and Arkansas has a chance.
Special teams: D
Blake Johnson continues to be the worst punter in the SEC. He averaged 35 yards a punt on 7 punts Saturday, including an 18-yard effort than ultimately led to LSU’s first touchdown of the fourth quarter.
Henre’ Toliver had just Arkansas’ third punt return of the year. That’s ridiculously too few this year.
The kick-return game did nothing.
The ‘D’ comes from Arkansas not yielding anything of significance for LSU. That was more on LSU, really.
The game plan seemed solid, actually. Most of the time.
The Hammonds thing will continue to haunt the staff, though. And the big plays. But the thing about big plays is they’re more on the players executing than the coaches. A bulk of the time, Arkansas’ defense was good, which is coaching. Some of the time Arkansas’ defense was atrocious, which is the players.
Can’t lay this one at the hands of Bret Bielema and Co. Not completely.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Simply put, Arkansas is not good enough in any area to beat good teams on its schedule.
The Razorbacks have shown this all year long. LSU was no different. Can Mississippi State be? We wait a week.