1. It was announced today that the University of Arkansas is pulling back to playing only once a year at Little Rock's War Memorial Stadium until 2018, and most anticipate that games there will cease altogether thereafter. The biannual Battle for the Boot in Little Rock was the feather in War Memorial's cap for nearly 20 years until the game was played in Razorback Stadium last season. Speculation following the news today is that one more Arkansas/LSU clash may be in the cards for War Memorial Stadium. How have Tiger fans felt about playing in Little Rock over the years? Do any memories of LSU games played there stand out?
I can admit, I've never actually been to a game there, but now having a close friend in LR, I hope it's there next season, because I will make it a point to try and attend, even the day after Thanksgiving. I don't think our fans mind it, much. The general consensus seems to be that it's a pretty fun environment, and it probably helps that it's 3 hours closer driving.
As for games, well, obviously the Miracle on Markham. You can still geaux to hell, Matt Jones. As bad as that was, the Miracle on Markham II was just a crushing end to a brutal season. Then in 2010 when Karnell Hatcher decided to tackle his own teammate.. that was... fun. Sheesh, now that I think about it, seems like every memory we have of War Memorial is a bad one. Why does Arkansas want us to quit going there again?
2. LSU has like 9 running backs that share carries. How about a little guide for Razorback fans to keep track of who's who and what they can accomplish with the football in their hands?
Well, until last week, it's been pretty much a heavy dosage of Jeremy Hill and then whichever back most established themselves thereafter. Terrence Magee's been a guy that's either produced majorly or not produced at all. He was very good against TCU, missing against UAB, good against vs. Kent State, then he disappeared until we played Furman and everyone got in on the fun there. Against A&M may have been his "coming out party" though, as Hill is likely to pursue the NFL. We also will throw Alfred Blue and Kenny Hilliard into the mix. Blue hasn't really been the same since tearing his ACL last year and Hilliard looks better in 2013 than 2012, but still nowhere near what we saw from him at the end of 2011.
At the end of the day, Hill is the most dynamic back we offer, running or receiving. Magee will probably be second in line to get carries. Then you'll see random series and times when Blue and Hilliard are in the game, sometimes mixing Hilliard as the FB for Hill.
3. Has Zach Mettenberger lived up to the hype surrounding him after he transferred?
After this season, I think so. Last year you could see the glimmers, but his consistency really wavered. But then he plays that fantastic game against Alabama and I think every LSU fan said, "We got ourselves a quarterback." He didn't play that well again the rest of the season, but he played much better than the really wretched 6-game, midseason stretch he had where he was barely scraping 100 yards passing a lot of weeks.
This year, he's a new man, though. I think Cam Cameron has done a lot for Zach. His overall footwork and mechanics are so much tighter and cleaner. There's a lot more coherency to the way our offense operates. He's far more composed. In fact, we're somehow the no. 1 offense in third down conversions... in the nation. Just wait, you'll be pulling your hair out when you get us into a 3rd and 27 out of the back of our end zone and splits three defenders and puts one on Beckham's numbers for a 1st down. He'll probably throw a pick the next play, but those crazy conversions haven't seemed to stop all season.
4. What is different about Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry that sets them apart from all the other insanely talented LSU receivers that have played before them? Does it begin and end with Cam Cameron and Mett, or are they physically more talented than their predecessors as well?
It's kind of crazy to me, because Beckham Jr. isn't as well thought of by our fan base as you would think a guy who has an outside shot of breaking the SEC Single Season All-Purpose Yardage market is. He's the LSU record holder already... and has been adding to that total for like three weeks. You'd think people would be crowning this guy, but he's remembered, unfairly, for his mistakes. For me personally, I'm a big fan of Beckham's game. He's a hands catcher and a crisp route runner. I'd guess his top end speed is really good as well.
Landry is a bit of a different animal. He's an over achiever. He's not too big, not too fast, not too athletic. But he just gets open. Over and over and over again. And he catches almost everything. I'm sure you remember his insane-o grab in Fayetteville last year. He seems to come up with a ton of catches like that.
I think both of them worked really hard this offseason, along with Mettenberger, to get this passing game right. It's paid off. Landry is fan favorite. He plays with a ton of heart. LSU fans love Jarvis Landry. I don't think the two are particularly more talented than some great receivers in our past, but you definitely put them both in that mix of Bowe, Reed, Clayton, Martin as some of the best in LSU history. So I think it's a little bit of everything. Good coordination and coaching, good QB play, and their talents.
5. What has crazy Uncle Les been up to this season? I've been wallowing in self-pity too much to pay attention to other teams. Has he had any wacky adventures or made up any crazy new words in 2013 that I might not have heard about?
Well, just this week he described Odell Beckham's back contusion as "quality." He also talked turkey day. He foregoes seat belts and runs red lights. But the best, yeah, the best thing this year, is he got really, REALLY pissed at a reporter he perceived to be insulting the effort level of his team from LAST year... So yeah, pretty much all is normal in the world of Les Miles.
6. Take us through the 2013 iteration of the LSU defense. Is it any different than the typically dominant units of years past? Who are the playmakers that Arkanas fans should look and listen for?
Very different. We can start up front. The LSU DL isn't the intimidating manbearpig of year's past. I wouldn't go so far as to say soft, but guys like Anthony Johnson (we've decided he shouldn't be called "Freak" any longer), Ego Ferguson and Jermauria Rasco have been competent, though unspectacular players. There are moments of extreme potential, but then they seem to lapse. We also lack the typical rotational depth we've had the past several seasons. We'll play about eight guys up front, but almost all of the reps will go to the top four or five. The one stud, the one guy that I think everyone is excited about is true Sophomore Danielle Hunter. He's 6'5", 240 pounds, big, fast, strong, mean and smart. He makes a lot of plays.
The linebackers I won't waste a ton of breath on. Lamin Barrow, who wears the coveted 18, has been uninspiring most of the season. D.J. Welter is the whipping boy, though he's coming off his best game of the season vs. A&M. Kwon Alexander flashes and then wholly disappears. Not a lot to love about a unit we figured would be our strength.
The secondary has been completely turned over, by this point. Two true freshman have stolen the starting CB spots. If A&M is any indication, another may have taken the Safety spot opposite of Craig Loston. Loston hasn't been good in his Senior encore. The guy to watch out here is Rashard Robinson, fresh off his manhandling of Mike Evans. He's big, fast and aggressive. He likes to play physical, despite only weighing about a buck seventy.
Unless this defense really turned a page against A&M, Arkansas will have chances to score, even without much of a passing attack. We can be run on.
7. What is something that may happen Friday that would completely shock Arkansas fans, while being completely unsurprising to LSU fans?
I think I tipped my hand earlier in that we have a penchant for converting third downs, even third and longs, but then, I notice your pass d efficiency is... subpar, so that may not be wholly surprising to you.
I think what may be most shocking to Arkansas fans, those anticipating the LSU defense that ate traditional rushing attacks alive, is that you'll likely run the ball very successfully against us.
P8. Finally, how about a prediction about how the game will go tomorrow? Include a score if you like, but let's be honest, most everyone is expecting a massacre.
If I'm being honest, there's two games every year that terrify me from the "we should win this one but it's always closer than it should be" perspective. That's Ole Miss and Arkansas. We also seem to fall flat right when we're feeling pretty damn good about ourselves, which is probably right now, coming off a beat down of A&M. So while I think there's a pretty low chance of LSU losing, I'm almost expecting a very uninspired, grind it out type of victory where Arkansas could be within 10 points and have the ball in the 4th quarter or something like that.
That said, we've been way better at home and it being Senior Night, I think the team wants to finish strong and will. So I suspect something like 38-17.