It’s been a long time since LSU last played a football game. After a three-week layoff due to their bye week and having last week’s meeting against No. 1 Alabama postponed, the Tigers (2-3) will be back in Death Valley on Saturday to face Arkansas (3-3).
LSU’s last matchup was against No 23 Auburn on October 31. Almost nothing went right for LSU as they fell to Auburn, 48-11. Auburn’s 48 points were the most points scored by either team in series history. Auburn’s 37-point win was also their largest margin of victory over LSU, breaking the previous record of 35 (1999, 2014).
The defense came out hot to start the game. LSU forced Auburn to punt twice and recovered a fumble early in the second quarter but proceeded to allow over 500 yards for the third time this season.
One of the biggest problems for LSU was taking care of the ball. All three of LSU’s turnovers turned into touchdowns for Auburn on the other end. Their rushing attack was also stifled as they were held to just 32 yards on 27 carries.
“We’ve got to play for 60 minutes,” said coach Ed Orgeron following the loss. “We always talk about coming out strong in the second half, but we didn’t. We got out physicaled in the front. And then we let the ball behind us in the fourth quarter. Those are things we can’t do on defense.”
Feleipe Franks has been the Razorbacks’ best player. After transferring from Florida this past offseason, he has adjusted to Arkansas’ offense seamlessly. Franks has completed 68.3 percent of his passes and is 13th in the nation in passing touchdowns (16) and 21st in passing yards (1,678) with just three interceptions.
“He’s a great athlete with good weapons around him, pretty good running backs,” said LSU linebacker Jabril Cox in a media interview Wednesday. “Just trying to contain him and stop what he wants to do is something that we’re focusing on this week.”
Cox said the team has been itching to get back out on the field since the Auburn game. A graduate transfer from North Dakota State, Cox has been one of the Tigers’ best defensive players this season. He has racked up 31 total tackles, 4.5 for loss, one sack, one quarterback hit, one fumble recovery and one interception through five games.
The Razorbacks’ defense has also been stout in coverage. The unit leads the Southeastern Conference with 13 interceptions. LSU wide receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. will be tested, but the junior welcomes the challenge.
“One thing about me is I like competition,” Marshall Jr. said. “It’s going to be very fun going into Arkansas this week, and I’m looking forward to the outcome.”
Marshall has been one of the few bright spots for LSU this season. Despite going through two quarterback changes this year, he has remained the Tigers’ best player. Marshall has caught 31 passes for 540 yards and nine touchdowns. He has the potential to approach or even surpass Ja’Marr Chase’s school record of 20 touchdowns in a season.
LSU will look to turn things around against Arkansas. When asked about potentially giving more playing time to underclassmen in what’s been a season full of growing pains for the Tigers, Orgeron said that the team would simply try to put their best foot forward.
“It’s all about winning the games,” Orgeron said on Monday. “We’ve got a lot of young guys playing. It works out both, but I’m not going to take out an older guy just to play a younger guy to give him reps. This is about winning the game, giving our guys the best chance to win.”