Sam Pittman, Arkansas Expecting Tough Challenge from LSU

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Photo Courtesy: University of Arkansas Athletics

FAYETTEVILLE — LSU is 2-3 on the season not where anyone expected the defending national champions to be at this point in the season.

They have not only lost to Mississippi State 44-34, Missouri 45-41 and Auburn 48-11 they have had two games postponed because of COVID. However, if they had played those two games, Florida on Oct. 17 and Alabama on Nov. 14 there’s a good chance they would be bringing a 2-5 mark into Fayetteville. LSU has beaten Vanderbilt 41-7 and South Carolina 52-24.

They had a bye on Nov. 7 and then the game against Alabama on Nov. 14 was postponed. Arkansas head coach Sam Pittman talked about LSU on Monday during his Zoom conference.

“You know, it’s unfortunate for them because they haven’t played in 21 days, or it’ll be 21 days since they were able to play (by Saturday).” Pittman said. “I think they’re a physical team, they’re a young team. You know they lost a lot of great talent on that team, but obviously they’ve recruited exceptionally well there. They have LSU written all over them: big, physical. They’re big on both sides of the ball. You know very aggressive.”

Pittman talked about some of the personnel on offense he’s impressed with.

“They have the LSU wideouts,” Pittman said. “Of course Arik Gilbert is a great young tight end. On offense, they’re a power football team, play-action. (TJ) Finley’s done a nice job in there at quarterback for them, as well as Max Johnson. So offensively they certainly cause a lot of problems for us.”

Finley has completed 30 of 45 passes for 408 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions while Johnson has completed 15 of 24 passes for 172 yards and a touchdown. Gilbert has 22 receptions for 259 yards and two touchdowns. Wide receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. has 31 catches for 540 yards and nine touchdowns.

The Arkansas head coach likes the secondary LSU has assembled. Safety JaCoby Stevens leads the team in tackles with 36, 2.5 sacks, one pass breakup, a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries.

“Defensively they’re big,” Pittman said. “They’re a little more simplified this year in what they’re doing up front. A lot of four-man line. Really good in the back end. Really physically in the back end. Obviously JaCoby Stevens is one of the top safeties in the country along with (Derek) Stingley (Jr.) at corner and (Todd) Harris (Jr.) at safety. They’re very talented and have a lot of team speed. They lost some guys at the linebacker spot and they’re playing different guys in that area there.”

As with any LSU team though they are big on both lines and that is something that concerns Pittman.

“But big and physical on both sides of the line and they certainly pose a lot of problems that we’ve got to try to fix before they get here on Saturday,” Pittman said.

The kickoff is set for 11 a.m. and televised on the SEC Network.

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