By CODY WORSHAM | Tiger Rag Editor
Twice on Saturday night, Arkansas watched helplessly as LSU sprinted the length of its field untouched.
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The first was on Derrius Guice’s 96-yard rushing score, the last touchdown of the Tigers’ 38-10 win in Razorback Stadium and the longest play from scrimmage in LSU history.
The second was at the final whistle, when the rest of Guice’s teammates sprinted to the southwest corner of Frank Broyles Field, where The Boot awaited the victors.
“Our guys wanted The Boot, ” said LSU head coach Ed Orgeron, “to take that back to Louisiana.”
The Golden Boot, played for annually by LSU and Arkansas since 1996, isn’t particularly attractive, weighing over 200 pounds and collecting its fair share of nicks and dust over the years. But it’s been out of LSU’s possession since 2014, when Arkansas claimed it with a 17-0 shutout in Fayetteville. The Razorbacks retained it a year ago, in a 31-14 road win.
The memory of their dash across Tiger Stadium to reclaim the hardware didn’t rest well with anyone on LSU’s roster.
“They disrespected us two years in a row,” said junior defensive end Davon Godchaux. “They sprinted to The Boot my freshman year, and they kept The Boot last year, disrespected us in Tiger Stadium. I guess they watched the games from the last two seasons and thought they were more physical than us. We asked them to come out and prove it today.”
Arkansas did not oblige. LSU was dominant on both sides of the ball Saturday night. The Tigers popped off 390 rushing yards at a 7.6 yard per carry clip, and Arkansas sacked Danny Etling just a single time. This, just a week after LSU failed to push Alabama’s massive front off the ball or keep Etling safe in the pocket.
Guice and Fournette capitalized on their available holes, combining for 350 yards and five scores. Guice broke off his historic run, and Fournette found the end zone three times.
“It’s always good to do our bread and butter and run down teams’ throats,” said Guice.
Ed Orgeron said getting Guice involved was always a part of the plan, even before Fournette left mid-way through the third quarter after tweaking his ankle. (Orgeron and Fournette both said afterward he was fine and would be ready for Florida next week.) LSU handed off to Guice just two times last week against Alabama, despite his 7.86 yard per carry average this season.
“We felt that Derrius deserved more touches,” Orgeron said. “We wanted to go north and south, and we felt that we could. Derrius is a very good running back, and we wanted to share the carries. I thought overall it was a great game plan.”
For his part, Fournette was happy to hand the ball off, metaphorically speaking, to his backup in the second half, after bearing the ball-carrying burden for the first 40 minutes of game time. Fournette hates comparisons with Guice, preferring to let his teammate stand on his own merits, and credited his position coach for preparing both of them to play this week.
“We’re two different running backs,” he said. “If he was anywhere else, he’d be a starter. He did a wonderful job today. That comes from our coach Jabaar Juluke. He worked us harder during practice to run more physical, never let one man take you down, just be special.”
Boy, were they special.
Even more special for the players, though, was that The Boot was on the line. Guice said he and his teammates quickly tired of talk that the Tigers couldn’t overcome the post-Bama hangover.
Especially when that talk was coming from the other sideline.
“We’re tired of hearing we can’t run past Alabama, and we can’t run after we play them,” he said. “Everyone feels, and Arkansas feels, we’re scared of them and we’re just going to lay down to them every time after we play Alabama. That just wasn’t the case tonight. We brought it to them, and we brought The Boot back home.”
MAKING THE GRADE
547 yards and 38 points on a cold night in Fayetteville? That’ll do.
Arkansas is explosive, but they couldn’t get anything going against Aranda’s men.
Special Teams: B-
Tre White muffed a punt and looked awkward on others. But kickoff, punt, and field goal units did their jobs.
Colorado blasted Arizona 49-25 Saturday night. Why is that significant for LSU fans? The Wildcats are now 2-8, including 0-7 in the Pac-12. So there’s a strong possibility that coach Rich Rodriguez will be fired at the end of the season. Rich was an early devotee of the no-huddle, spread offense as the O-coordinator for Tulane’s undefeated 1998 team. Can you envision him as LSU’s O-coordinator next season? Possibly for Ed Orgeron. Can we agree that losing to Arkansas would have ended Ed’s candidacy for 2017 LSU head coach but winning the game keeps the hope alive? Whoever is the coach, he will need an O-coordinator, and Rich Rod may be available. It would be ironic if he ended up at LSU since the Alabama job was his in 2007 before he backed out at the last minute, opening the door for Nick Saban.