FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — They’ve got their backs.
LSU’s defenders, solid in the last two losses, didn’t criticize the team’s offense following the 17-0 defeat at Arkansas on Saturday night.
The Tigers (7-4, 3-4 Southeastern) limped to just 123 yards, and quarterback Anthony Jennings, under duress much of the game, threw for just 87. The LSU defense gave up only 264 yards to the Razorbacks (5-5, 1-5) in a second straight impressive outing that ended poorly.
LSU’s defense allowed 315 yards in a 20-13 overtime loss to then-No. 4 Alabama.
Frustrating? Sure, but safety Ronald Martin and defensive tackle Christian LaCouture weren’t ready to point fingers.
“We have full confidence in them,” LaCouture said. “We have full confidence in Anthony leading that offense. They hit a couple of spurts where I thought they did good. They’re going to get better just like we are. We have full confidence in that offense. They’ll get the job done.”
Said Martin: “We’ve got those guys’ backs, no matter what.”
LSU’s defense had its woes, though.
Arkansas was 10-of-17 on third down, at one point converting 8 of 13 tries. The Hogs converted third downs of 7 and 11 and two of 8 yards — all of them gained via the arm of quarterback Brandon Allen.
Many of those passes came on dump passes and swing and crossing routes. Allen had much of his success throwing to tight ends. Of his 16 completions, nine went to a tight end.
“They were delaying the tight end, something we haven’t seen on film,” Martin said. “They acted like he was fixing to block for, like, a count of 2 to 3 seconds and then would slip him off to the flats when the secondary was back off on coverage and the linebackers took their eyes off a quick second.”
The Hogs seemed to have surprised LSU with some passing routes, Martin said, and coach Les Miles suggested the Razorbacks put their open date last week to good use.
“They threw a lot of crossing routes,” Marin said. “We hadn’t seen that too much on film. They got our linebackers out of the pocket.”
“I thought they threw the football with some imagination,” Miles said. “I think the open week certainly helped them.”
On its three scoring drives, Arkansas converted a whopping eight third downs.
Said LaCouture: “It’s definitely frustrating.”
Stuffing Fournette, the run
Arkansas had Leonard Fournette’s number. LSU’s freshman star and leading rusher ran for a career-low 9 yards on five carries (another career low).
He had just one carry in the second half as the Arkansas defense bent on stopping him. Asked about Fournette afterward, Miles said runs designed for the rookie weren’t working.
Fournette now has 745 yards this season, 11 shy of surpassing Jeremy Hill on the school’s all-time freshman rushing list.
Terrence Magee led LSU in rushing with 24 yards on seven carries, and the Tigers had their worst rushing output (36 yards) since 2009. Their 32 rushing attempts are the fewest since a loss at Alabama last November, and they failed to run for at least 50 yards for the 10th time in Miles’ 10 seasons.
“Coach was just trying to find a guy who was hot,” Magee said. “Unfortunately, me, Leonard or Darrel (Williams) … none of us could get it done. We’ll get better for it.”
Delahoussaye’s rough day
Colby Delahoussaye missed two field goals in a game for the first time in his career. The sophomore from New Iberia missed kicks of 27 and 47 yards.
He entered the game having missed two kicks in two years. Delahoussaye is now 23-for-27 for his career, including 10-for-13 this season.
LSU on Sunday fell out of both of the national polls for the second time this season. The Tigers, last week No. 20 in both The Associated Press Top 25 and the coaches’ poll, dropped out of both after the loss to Arkansas.
Miles’ team fell from the polls after the 41-7 loss at Auburn on Oct. 4. That was the first time the program plummeted from the rankings since 2008.