FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – There’s a reason they call LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda the “mad scientist.”
It’s not just his methodical approach to scheming a defense. It’s also his undying quest for perfection. Naturally, Aranda wasn’t satisfied with limiting another opponent to under 20 points in a 38-10 win against Arkansas. The Razorbacks executed running back screen plays for 54 and 23 yards in the fourth quarter.
“Dave’s in there mad because they ran a couple of screens on him,” said LSU interim coach Ed Orgeron. “You got to like that.”
It’s rubbing off on his defense, too.
“They’re learning Dave’s mentality of (contesting) every play,” Orgeron said. “Dave doesn’t want to give up a yard.”
By holding the Razorbacks to 10 points, LSU’s opponents have scored less than 20 points in seven of nine games, and no opponent has scored more than 21.
The No. 16 Tigers (6-3, 4-2 Southeastern Conference) have given up 10 touchdowns in nine games, the fewest amount for a team in the FBS. Since Orgeron took over as interim coach, LSU has pitched shutouts in 12 of 20 quarters.
The Tigers now rank sixth in scoring defense nationally, surrendering 13.9 points per game.
“We feel like our defense is just as good as Alabama’s,” said defensive end Davon Godchaux. “One of the best defenses in the country, if not the best.”
Perhaps a microcosm of just how difficult it is to score against the LSU defense came late in the fourth quarter of Saturday night’s win.
With an LSU victory already well in hand, Arkansas mounted a 9-play drive and sat at the LSU 10-yard line. Razorback quarterback Austin Allen completed a short pass to tight end Jeremy Sprinkle, who turned up field and dove for the end zone. It was initially called a touchdown, but Sprinkle was ruled down at the 1-yard line after review.
On the very next play, Arkansas running back Devwah Whaley coughed up the ball and linebacker Kendell Beckwith recovered. It was the Razorbacks third turnover on the night.
Certainly, LSU was fortunate on that instance, but it illustrates how the Tigers have buckled down in the red zone. Of its opponent’s 26 red zone trips, the Tigers have allowed seven touchdowns and 14 field goals. LSU opponent’s touchdown percentage is the lowest in the country.
“We’re trying to be perfect,” said Tigers linebacker Duke Riley. “We know they’re going to make a play, obviously. We just got to regroup when they make a play and move on.”
Tigers running back Leonard Fournette — a home run hitter in his own right — had been waiting for his backup, Derrius Guice, to break a long run.
Guice finally did against Arkansas, doing so in record-setting fashion.
“About time he scores, man,” Fournette said. “Tired of seeing him get hawked down. I was excited.”
Guice’s 96-yard touchdown scamper in the fourth quarter was the longest run from scrimmage in school history, besting the previous long set in 1952. The run tied for sixth place on the SEC’s all-time longest plays from scrimmage list and is the longest play in the SEC since 2009.
The sophomore tailback accumulated 252 yards on 21 carries and two touchdowns on the night, while Fournette added 98 yards and three touchdowns.
Guice’s rushing output is the second most in a single game in program history, only behind Fournette’s 284 yards against Ole Miss earlier this season.
“We’re two different running backs,” Fournette said. “Like I always said, if (Guice) were anywhere else, he’d be a starter. He did a wonderful job today. All that comes from (running backs) coach Jabbar Juluke. … He put the pressure on us, worked us harder at practice to run more physical and never let one man take you down and just be special. Shouts out to him.”
Fournette (803) and Guice (881) became the second pair of LSU running backs to each eclipse 800 yards in the same season. In 1976, Terry Robiskie and Charles Alexander were the first LSU running backs to each reach 800 yards in the same season. … The Tigers’ 390 rushing yards Saturday night were the most against Arkansas in series history. The previous best was 295 rushing yards in the 2004 game against the Razorbacks.