By CODY WORSHAM | Tiger Rag Editor
LSU will win if…
Coach O’s Calendar Works. In years past, LSU has over-hyped the Alabama game and suffered the rest of November for it. LSU hasn’t beaten Arkansas in the last two seasons, because it hasn’t beaten Alabama the last two seasons. Coach O’s weekly routine – Tell the Truth Monday, Competition Tuesday, Turnover Wednesday, No Repeat Thursday, and Focus Friday – is designed to keep players in the moment and prepare them each week. We’ll see if that formula works this week, in what will be the biggest test of Coach O’s famed motivational talents yet.
Fournette Runs Well. Against Arkansas last year, Fournette, still slowed after a 19-carry, 31-yard outing against Alabama, managed just 91 yards on 19 carries in LSU’s 31-14 loss to the Razorbacks. Add that to the prior season’s 5-carry, 9-yard debut vs. Arkansas, and it’s clear Fournette has had little success against Bret Bielema’s defenses. If he can’t reverse that trend, LSU will be in for a long day on offense. Fournette is the engine that powers Steve Ensminger’s attack, and if he’s not firing on all cylinders, it’ll be hard for the Tigers to move the ball.
Arkansas will win if…
It pressures Danny Etling: We’ve now seen what Etling is when he’s under fire – a pretty average quarterback. Etling has been excellent for LSU when he’s had time to set his feet and throw, but Alabama made him uncomfortable all night, and he was dire. Arkansas has just 18 sacks all season – that’s 9th in the SEC – but if Bielema can find the right combination of blitzes and edge rush, he can force Etling into another difficult night and keep LSU’s offense grounded.
Austin Allen is accurate: Allen has been among the SEC’s best quarterbacks in 2016, ranking second only to Auburn’s Sean White in QB efficiency (148.78). He’s been especially excellent in wins, completing 64.5 percent of his passes when Arkansas comes out on top. That number has dipped to 58.3 in Razorback defeats. When Allen is on the money, Arkansas can be tough to stop. LSU has to figure out how to pressure and cover well enough to keep the Razorback aerial attack from taking flight.