FAYETTEVILLE — It won’t be just because of Saturday night’s predicted down in the 30s cold that the Arkansas Razorbacks need to close the screen door and what’s behind it.
Otherwise, they’ll find LSU Tigers ahead of Arkansas defenders already past them and remaining Razorbacks ahead of the Tigers screened off for big LSU gains just like the Vanderbilt Commodores did in Arkansas’ last game.
Back on Oct. 27 at the same Reynolds Razorback Stadium where, 2-7, 0-5, hosts nationally No. 7 LSU, 7-2, 4-2 in Saturday’s 6:30 p.m. SEC West game televised by the SEC Network, Vanderbilt repeatedly made the Razorbacks, 2-7, 0-5 SEC, pay for their defensive aggression with screen passes to running backs and tight ends en route to a 45-31 SEC success.
The Hogs had a bye week of practices and this game week, too to seal the screen door that Arkansas coach Chad Morris says he knows LSU seeks to open.
“You have to be sound and not get out-flanked, out-leveraged, no motions,” Morris said before the Razorbacks practiced Wednesday. “And you've got to retrace. That's something we didn't do a very good job of and we've got to make sure of that this week. I'm sure they've seen film. They understand what was a big deficiency for us a week ago so we anticipate them throwing a lot of screen passes on us. I would.”
The game before the Commodores sailed for 45 points on the Razorbacks, Arkansas’ John Chavis coordinated defense pitched a shutout, 23-0 over Tulsa in Fayetteville.
“On defense, obviously they’re hit and miss,” LSU coach Ed Orgeron said. “But I know they’re going to play their best game against us. They have some good rushers, can put some pressure on the quarterback. Chavis likes to blitz. I know the type of athletes they have at Arkansas, I know the type of crowd they’re going to have. So we’re expecting their best shot.”
Orgeron knows about Arkansas crowds as a Razorbacks grad assistant to Ken Hatfield in 1986 and ’87 and coaching against the Razorbacks as the head coach at Ole Miss and both as LSU’s defensive line coach and then head coach.
As for touting Arkansas’ offense, Orgeron is quick to compare Alabama scores. Alabama outscored Arkansas, 65-31.
LSU whiffed as the Tide rolled on the Tigers, 29-0 last Saturday at LSU’s Death Valley in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
“They put 31 points on Alabama, we didn’t put any,” Orgeron said. “Obviously we have to respect their football team.”
He cited Arkansas starting quarterback Ty Storey and Arkansas running back Rakeem Boyd.
“They’re progressing on offense,” Orgeron said. “I think Chad has a very good scheme, good quarterback. I know No. 5 (Boyd) is an excellent running back. He hits the hole fast. They have some athletes like they always have. Very strong offensive line.”
The Razorbacks held an entirely closed practice Thursday before their last home game.
They finish their 2018 campaign on the SEC road at 11 a.m. Nov. 17 against Mississippi State in Starkville, Mississippi, and against Missouri, at 1:30 p.m. Nov. 23, the Friday after Thanksgiving in Columbia, Missouri.
After weeks sort of practicing in a green restricted jersey so his basically ailing body could play on Saturdays, Arkansas senior right offensive guard Johnny Gibson of Dumas especially relished last week’s bye week.
“For one thing it got me out of my green jersey,” Gibson said of this game week. “I could wear my actual practice jersey. A lot of recovery. A lot of recovery. Got to get away from the game a little bit. Getting away (last weekend) from the facility and recharging with the last three games.”
How many from Dumas coming to see his Senior Night Arkansas farewell?
“I don’t know,” Gibson said. “I know a lot of people said, ‘If it was going to be a late game they could make it.’ I know my family will be here. I wish my grandma could come to the game but she said, ‘It’s too many people for her. But she’s coming up to my apartment to stay. So she’ll be here after the game. It will be the first time she’s come to Fayetteville. So that’s something I will be looking forward to.”