FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. —LSU played Saturday without two key members of its rushing attack.
The Tigers were without starting left guard Vadal Alexander and running back Kenny Hilliard in the 17-0 loss at Arkansas.
Alexander injured his hand in the loss last week to Alabama and did not travel with the team, news that broke about two hours before kickoff. Hilliard also did not travel with the team and will miss the last two games of the regular season as he recovers from a shoulder injury, news reported by The Advocate on Friday.
Hilliard is third on the team in rushing with 431 yards behind Leonard Fournette (730) and Terrence Magee (447). He has been LSU’s short-yardage, between-the-tackles runner who has excelled late in games.
Alexander apparently injured his hand in the loss to Alabama last week. More details on the injury and his future status were not immediately available.
Senior Evan Washington started in place of Alexander, making his first start of the season and just the second of his career. He hadn’t started a game since against Furman last year.
The injuries were to key pieces of the Tigers rushing attack. Entering the game, LSU had run the ball more than any team in the Southeastern Conference: 69 percent of the time.
Center Elliott Porter (ankle) was injured on LSU’s third drive of the game and didn’t return as the Tigers shifted their line to include two reserves.
Right guard Ethan Pocic moved to center, and Hoko Fanaika entered at right guard. Fanaika started the season as LSU’s starting right guard but was replaced by Pocic after the third game.
Miles called the two losses “signifigant” and said Alexander would be “likely” to return for the game at A&M, but that Porter is doubtful.
Miles said earlier this week that he doesn’t punish receivers for dropped passes.
Maybe he does after all.
Receiver Trey Quinn, who dropped two critical late-game passes in last week’s overtime loss to Alabama, didn’t see the field in the first half Saturday and played just once or twice in the second half. Quinn is LSU’s No. 1 or No. 2 receiver, and he started seven of the first 10 games this season.
John Diarse got the first start of his career Saturday as Quinn watched from the sideline. He entered the game with 16 catches, second-most on the team.
Quinn, a true freshman from Barbe High School in Lake Charles, dropped two passes on third downs on consecutive drives in the fourth quarter against Alabama. Each catch would have gained a first down.
Arkansas entered Saturday’s game having lost 17 straight conference games and having dropped 14 consecutive meeting against a ranked team.
The Hogs had also lost three straight to LSU.
Arkansas’ 17-game Southeastern Conference losing straight dated to October 2012 and included seven one-score games and two overtimes. It included two close games with the Tigers: 20-13 in 2012 and 31-27 in 2013.
The Razorbacks hadn’t won a game against a ranked team since the Cotton Bowl following the 2011 season, the last game under coach Bobby Petrino.
One streak lives
LSU equipment manager Greg Stringfellow, who said earlier in the week that he didn’t remember the last time he didn’t wear shorts on the sideline regardless of the conditions, was in his usual game day garb Saturday night.
With the temperature hovering around the freezing mark at kickoff, Stringfellow was seen on the sideline wearing khaki shorts with a purple fleece jacket. He wore a baseball cap with a knit ski cap over it.
The temperature at kickoff was 33 degrees, tying for the second-coldest LSU football game dating to 1970.
The temperature was also 33 degrees when LSU won 10-7 at Notre Dame on Nov. 23, 1985. The coldest LSU game on record since 1970 remains the game in Fayetteville on Nov. 27, 1992.
The temperature that day was 31 degrees, with the Tigers falling 30-6 to the Razorbacks.
This was the coldest game here for Arkansas since Nov. 11, 1995, against Louisiana-Lafayette when it was also 31 degrees at kickoff.
Arkansas starting strong safety Rohan Gaines was ejected for targeting in the third quarter as he hit tight end DeSean Smith in what was ruled a defenseless position as he attempted to make a catch. ... LSU’s captains were tight end Dillon Gordon, kickoff specialist Trent Domingue, left tackle La’el Collins and cornerback Jalen Collins. … Freshman running back Darrel Williams replaced running back Terrence Magee as the upback on the kickoff return team. … LSU offensive coordinator Cam Cameron called three designed runs for quarterback Anthony Jennings in the Tigers’ first three possessions, a new wrinkle for the offense.