LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger. (Associated Press)
Last Modified: Thursday, November 28, 2013 8:25 PM
BATON ROUGE — And now for something completely different …
LSU, which solved Texas A&M’s pass-happy offense last week, must switch gears today when Arkansas visits with a ground-loving attack right out of Tiger head coach Les Miles’ roots.
From the up-tempo to the no-nonsense. From the frantic to the old reliable.
Also ... from an Aggies team that was riding high with big expectations coming into Tiger Stadium to an Arkansas team that knows today will be, mercifully, its final game of the season under first-year head coach Bret Bielema.
Bielema led Wisconsin to the Rose Bowl the last three years, but has yet to win an SEC game going into the final game of his first season with the Razorbacks (3-8, 0-7). Arkansas also comes in on a school-record eight-game losing streak after starting the year 3-0.
LSU head coach Les Miles seems to be looking past that.
“I think our team recognizes that Arkansas is a good football team,” Miles said with a straight face. “It doesn’t make any difference that that they have failed to achieve victory. I would expect them to play extremely hard Friday.”
Bielema has no complaints on that front.
“Despite the losses, I do think we’ve had a great attitude,” he said
And after back-to-back blowouts to South Carolina and Alabama — combined scored 104-7 —the Hogs have been respectable in their last three games, still with nothing to show for it. Last week Arkansas took Mississippi State to overtime before losing 24-17.
Bielema hasn’t changed. His Wisconsin teams were known for power running attacks. His Arkansas teams are, or will be, the same way.
The Razorbacks have struggled on both sides of the ball this season, with the SEC’s fifth-ranked rushing game (211 ypg) about the only place they’ve stuck their head above water.
The passing game (146 ypg) is the worst statistically in the SEC and the Razorbacks have scored the second fewest points (20.1 ppg).
But Bielema is doing it his way — from the ground up, by grinding and grounding out yardage.
“He has a little different slant on how he sees things,” Miles said. “You can tell he’s a very talented coach, very capable. He provides very specific challenges for us.
“You can see a lot on film and you can tell his teams are very well prepared.”
Mostly, however, Miles said he was most interested to see how his own team plays, how the Tigers follow up what he said was the best performance of the season in a 34-10 victory over Texas A&M last week.
“I think that we’ve played well in spots this year,” Miles said. “But for four solid quarters of football, that (Texas A&M game) was exemplary.
“Our football team has played three really poor quarters this season. Had we eliminated some of those, things would be different today. But I think the last four quarters against a talented Texas A&M team we probably put it all together.
“I can’t imagine we wouldn’t play very hard against this next opponent.”