BR.lsucarolina.102520 HS 2270.JPG

LSU quarterback TJ Finley (11) fakes the handoff to LSU running back John Emery Jr. (4) in the first half against South Carolina, Saturday, October 24, 2020, at LSU's Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, La.

LSU plays Arkansas at 11 a.m. Saturday inside Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium, the Tigers' first game in three weeks. These are staff writer Wilson Alexander's keys to the game for LSU.

1. Avoid costly turnovers

Since the beginning of LSU’s preparations for Arkansas, coach Ed Orgeron emphasized turnovers. Arkansas enters the game plus-8 in turnover margin — buoyed by 13 interceptions, the most in the nation — while LSU is plus-4. True freshman quarterback TJ Finley had three turnovers in LSU’s last game, which turned into 21 points. Finley will likely start again this weekend. He has to avoid turnovers, and LSU needs to force Arkansas into uncharacteristic mistakes.

2. Rediscover the run

Finley succeeded in his first start because LSU didn’t ask him to do too much. The Tigers relied on their running backs throughout the game, taking pressure off Finley to generate offense. In his debut, LSU rushed 54 times for 276 yards, both season-highs. Finley attempted three passes in the second half. A week later, LSU gained 32 yards rushing. Arkansas has allowed 183.43 yards rushing per game. LSU should lean on its running backs.

3. Limit explosive plays

LSU self-scouted its defense after the loss to Auburn and once again identified a common theme this season: It allowed too many explosive plays, which Orgeron defined as those gaining more than 15 yards. Before LSU’s consecutive open dates, the Tigers ranked bottom-10 nationally in three explosive play categories. LSU recognized the issues — blown coverages, confusion, miscommunication and poor execution — but it remains to be seen if LSU fixed the problems.

4. Control the line

Despite the overwhelming number of points scored in this year’s SEC, games within the league still depend on controlling the line of scrimmage. For LSU to beat Arkansas, the Tigers’ offensive line must play the way it did against South Carolina, when Orgeron called the group the MVP of the game. The offensive line regressed a week later, but three weeks have passed since LSU last played and LSU reinstated left tackle Dare Rosenthal from an indefinite suspension.

Email Wilson Alexander at