FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Just one week ago, the LSU fan base was in the midst of a meltdown during the Tigers’ inability to establish the run or do much of any blocking in a 10-0 loss to No. 1 Alabama.
Those fears were assuaged in a major way against Arkansas on Saturday night as LSU dominated the point of attack in the trenches to cruise to a 38-10 win and reclaim possession of The Golden Boot.
Alley Broussard’s LSU single-game record of 250 rushing yards held up for 12 years. Now, it has been surpassed twice in the last three games by two different running backs.
Leonard Fournette broke it with 284 yards against Ole Miss on Oct. 22, and Derrius Guice had the second-greatest single-game performance by an LSU running back against Arkansas on Saturday night with 252 yards on 21 carries. That included the longest run in program history — a history that dates to 1893 — with a 96-yard coup de grace in the fourth quarter.
Fournette added 98 yards and 3 touchdowns of his own.
Danny Etling didn’t have to pass a whole lot, but was effective, going 10 of 16 for 157 yards (that’s an easy-to-calculate 15.7 yards per completion). His 38-yard swing pass to Fournette on LSU’s opening drive was a massive play that picked up a first down on third-and-short and gave the Tigers the confidence they’d use the rest of the way.
These guys are good. So, so good.
Twice in the third quarter, Arkansas creeped its way back into the game by forcing a pair of turnovers on the LSU side of the 50 — one on a Fournette fumble, the other on Tre’Davious White’s fumbled punt return.
The Hogs only cashed in a field goal out of the two gifts.
Arkansas also only managed a field goal out of two trips inside the LSU 5-yard-line. Only the rarest of plays propelled the Razorbacks into the end zone. Dominique Reed beat White for a 44-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter, the first time a receiver has caught a pass longer than 10 yards against White this year.
Special Teams: C+
White still has the best punt return I have ever seen, and I watched every game of Devin Hester’s Chicago Bears career.
But it might be time for coach Ed Orgeron to make a change back there.
White has made some head-scratching decisions lately, including fielding a punt at the 3 against Alabama last week. He should have called for a fair catch on all three of his returns this week, which resulted in minus-9 yards and a lost fumble.
But he did make up for it on the punting unit, perfectly downing a Josh Growden boot at the 1-yard line. Growden is continuing to grow into an asset for the Tigers.
Donte Jackson’s shoestring tackle on the game’s opening kickoff prevented a massive Arkansas return.
This is the ultimate letdown game, as Arkansas has proven the past two seasons. And that is why this game will be the reason why Orgeron is LSU’s head coach in 2017 if the Tigers win their final two games on the schedule.
“Resolve. Fight. We had heard all the stuff (about the Alabama hangover),” Orgeron said. “This is a new team, new mindset. We think different and act different. You saw it tonight.”
The most impressive 60 minutes of all-around football LSU has played this season. Arkansas is a good team. The Tigers never let it look like one.