By Robbie Neiswanger
By Robbie Neiswanger
Arkansas News Bureau
FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas’ offense, which endured its share of struggles in 2010, is cruising right now.
The Razorbacks continue to come up with big plays in their high-powered passing attack. The offensive line has become a solid unit, controlling the line of scrimmage. And the run game — which was nonexistent earlier in the season is finally producing.
It’s the type of second-half surge that led the Razorbacks to the Sugar Bowl last season. And while Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson doesn’t know why it is happening once again, he’s certainly glad to see it heading into Friday’s showdown at LSU.
“The last three games the point margin shows our potential,” Wilson said after the 44-17 win against Mississippi State. “We are really clicking and coming together. This is coming at the right time.”
Continued success will be critical when the third-ranked Razorbacks (10-1, 6-1 in Southeastern Conference) play No. 1 LSU (11-0, 7-0) in Baton Rouge, La. The Razorbacks will carry the SEC’s top-ranked offense (39.3 points and 463.3 yards) into Tiger Stadium, while LSU has remained perfect behind the strength of one of the nation’s stingiest defenses (10 points and 247.9 yards).
Which group will outperform the other? The answer could determine which team secures a spot in the national championship game.
Arkansas had the upper hand in last season’s meeting, picking apart the Tigers with big plays. The Razorbacks had 85-, 80- and 39-yard scoring passes, propelling the Razorbacks into the Sugar Bowl.
LSU safety Brandon Taylor said the Tigers remember last season’s frustrations. They also know the key to making sure it doesn’t happen again, too.
“We know we have to go in and eliminate the big plays,” Taylor told the LSU media this week.
The Tigers have roughed up opponents most of the season. Oregon and West Virginia scored 27 and 21 points, respectively, during early-season nonconference games. LSU has clamped down since then, allowing 7.6 points in the past seven games.
The Tigers have surrendered 50 points (and just four touchdowns) in seven conference games. But LSU defensive tackle Michael Brockers said the Tigers know they’re facing a “great offense” Friday.
“They click all the way around,” Brockers told the LSU media this week. “That comeback against Texas A&M, those guys just pulled it out. They knew what they had to do in a comeback. That’s what they did.
“Those guys are amazing on offense and we’ll have a tough time trying to stop them.”
The Razorbacks — who have struggled with consistency much of the season — are averaging 45.7 points and 491 yards in the past three games. Wilson has led the charge with 888 passing yards, 8 touchdowns and 2 interceptions during the stretch. Running back Dennis Johnson has 281 yards during the stretch, too.
The point total is impressive, especially since Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino and the Razorbacks know they’ve made mistakes that have kept them from piling on even more points. Wilson, for instance, was sacked and fumbled in the redzone last Saturday.
“We’re playing our best football right now, but we can play even better,” receiver Joe Adams said. “I don’t think this is our best football yet.”
Coaches and players were not available for comment for the second straight day because of tight end Garrett Uekman’s death Sunday. But several looked ahead to the LSU challenge after the MSU win, looking to make amends after an embarrassing performance in the 38-14 loss to Alabama earlier this season.
“They have an explosive defense,” Arkansas tight end Chris Gragg said after the win. “They’re fast, but I think we can put up some points on them.”
Arkansas is averaging 30.7 points in its previous three games against the Tigers.
So, once again, the Razorbacks would like to see a repeat performance when they line up against LSU. And LSU knows its push for perfection will rely on how well can slow Arkansas’ quick-strike offense.
“We recognize that they are very efficient and that we will have to defend them,” LSU coach Les Miles said. “It will be a great challenge to our defense.”