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Season in Time 2005: Game 11 - Arkansas


Houston Nutt


Darren McFadden


Felix Jones


Andrew Whitworth


Casey Dick hands off.


S Randy Kelly draws a bead on Joseph Addai.


The strange pre-punt shenanigans of Jacob Skinner


Melvin Oliver sacks Dick.


Dwayne Bowe runs with his only reception of the day.


Addai demonstrates how to hold the ball.


Justin Vincent stiffarms Vickiel Vaughn.


Vincent tackled.


Vaughn chases Skyler Green.


Green on the run again, with LB Weston Dacus in pursuit.


JaMarcus Russell scrambles.


Chevis Jackson intercepts in front of Marcus Monk.


Three Razorbacks trap Russell.


Oliver gets his second sack.


Miles addresses his West champions in locker room.

Now #3 in the AP poll following Miami's loss to Georgia Tech, the weary Tigers girded for their tenth game in ten weeks.
  • LSU needed to defeat Arkansas to win the West because Auburn had finished its schedule with a 7-1 conference record. Fortunately, the lone defeat came in Baton Rouge, giving LSU the tiebreaker.
  • Georgia had finished its conference schedule as East champion.

Houston Nutt's Razorbacks, 4-6 but with two straight victories, relished their spoilers role as 17-point underdogs.

  • Nutt labeled the finale in Baton Rouge his team's bowl game.
  • Watching video of LSU's romp in Oxford gave the Hog coach a healthy re­spect for his next opponent. The thing about LSU is that they have just been dominant and in everyone's backfield. It was hard for Ole Miss to try to get back to the line of scrimmage a lot of times. They are just so quick and fast and play­ing at a high level of confidence right now. They know that this is the game right here. ... They are on top of that center, and it seems like they know the snap count of the opposing team because they are pushing them back. The Tigers had held each of their last eight opponents to 20 points or less.
  • Despite sporting the SEC's longest winning streak of eight games, Les Miles wouldn't let his team overlook the Razorbacks. I can tell you right now if this team's not focused on the here and now, there's something wrong.
  • Arkansas had been in a similar position two years earlier when Nick Saban's 2003 squad needed to beat the Razorbacks to clinch the West. After the visitors tied the game at 17 in Q2, the Tigers exploded for 38 unanswered points to win 55-24 on their way to the SEC and BCS Championships.

The 2005 Hogs deployed an outstanding pair of freshmen halfbacks.

  • Darren McFadden ranked second in the SEC with 1,056y, but his 6.9 ypc surpassed everyone. Miles expressed great respect for McFadden. He's got great speed. He makes some guys miss. He'll see a very fine defense, and I think that he certainly will be a challenge to us.
  • The other newcomer, Felix Jones, added 621 rushing yards.
  • Nutt likened his two runners to LSU's tandem of Joseph Addai and Justin Vincent. You're not afraid to put either one of them into the game at any time no matter what play it is, whether it be a screen, draw, a running play, what­ever. It's a luxury to be able to dial a play knowing you don't have to worry if he can do it. The answer is "yes."
  • LSU DT Kyle Williams knew he and his fellow linemen would have their hands full. I'm very impressed by McFadden. He's a big guy who runs fast. They have an experienced offensive line. Year in and year out, Arkansas the biggest, most physical line we face.
  • Fortunately for their opponents, Arkansas did not have as talented a QB to lead the offense. They ranked last in the league with 137.5 passing yards per game. However, the offensive staff had expanded their playbook with each game new starting QB Casey Dick had played.
  • Arkansas had lost its last five games in Tiger Stadium. It's probably one of the loneliest places for a visitor if you're talking about lining up and playing football, said Nutt. It's just a very, very tough crowd. There has to be complete focus. The main thing I would tell them is it's not a comfort zone. It's not for the weak and the timid. You'd better be ready to go and be very, very focused and tuned in because it can be so intimidating.
  • Asked if that included the bus ride on campus, Nutt said, I don't remember anybody throwing rocks. They hit on the bus a little bit or maybe say a few bad things to you, maybe a few obscene gestures, but I don't remember anybody throwing anything.

The sixth largest crowd in Tiger Stadium history, 92,127, gathered the day after Thanksgiving for the 1:30 game on CBS.

  • Q1: The turf had been reseeded after three straight home games plus seve­ral Saints games had beaten it up. Trying to keep the ball away from the dynamic return duo of McFadden and Jones, Chris Jackson kicked out of bounds. So Arkansas started from its 35. Casey Dick started well - 1st and 3rd down short completions to WR Cedric Washington for a first down at the 46. But two incompletions on the next series forced a punt to the 15.
    LT Andrew Whitworth, one of the 21 Tiger seniors in their farewell game at Tiger Stadium, set an LSU record by starting his 50th consecutive game. He hadn't missed a practice in four years, much less a game. But an illegal for­mation penalty on Andrew cancelled JaMarcus Russell's 3rd down comple­tion to Buster Davis for a 1st down and led to Jackson's punt to the UA 49.
    McFadden ran straight up the gut for 4, then 10y and a 1st down. Two plays later, Dick hit 6'6" TE Marcus Monk for another 1st down at the 25. But a short run and two incompletions brought out kicker Chris Balseiro, who missed a 42-yarder.
    But LSU went three-and-out again. On 3rd-and-2, Russell faked the speed reverse to Skyler Green, rolled right but threw a bit too far for Addai. Jack­son spiraled a beautiful punt to the 18.
    An offensive interference penalty derailed the Hogs' series, and Jacob Skin­ner punted to Green at the LSU 43.
    The Tiger offense finally got in gear. First, Justin Vincent took a swing pass for 4, then ran behind Whitworth for LSU's initial first down at the UA 44. Russell hit WR Dwayne Bowe in stride on a slant-in to the 26. Then Vincent got loose again to the 13. A pass to FB Jacob Hester moved the pigskin to the 5. From the Jumbo Formation (three TEs plus a FB), Vincent met a stone­wall as the period ended.
    END Q1: LSU 0 Arkansas 0
  • Q2: LSU called a timeout before running a play. When play finally resumed, Whitworth moved across to overload the right side, and Vincent slanted that way to the 2 for the 1st down. But the great opportunity fell apart from there. First, Vincent was hit as soon as he took the handoff for a loss of 2. Russell rolled left as a defender closed in and threw wide to Hester. After a false start penalty moved the ball to the 9, Arkansas blitzed through the four-wide formation and forced JaMarcus to throw on the run futilely to Da­vis in the EZ. So Colt David booted the 26y FG. LSU 3 Arkansas 0 (13:24)
    Jackson kicked to Jones at the 5 but the coverage stopped him at the 20. After two McFadden runs gained 7, Melvin Oliver dropped Dick at the 19. A holding penalty on the first punt forced Skinner to kick from the EZ. Green fair caught the ball at midfield.
    It took LSU one play to score. Russell faked a handoff, eluded a rusher, and threw to WR Bennie Brazell sprinting toward the EZ on the 5. Some of the fun of the score was erased when Bowe celebrated with Brazell on the sideline, and an official threw a flag for unsportsmanlike conduct. LSU 10 Arkansas 0 (10:50)
    Kicking from the 20, Jackson boomed the ball to Jones at the 9. He could make it only to the 28. S LaRon Landry got his hands on a 1st down pass but couldn't hold what might have been a TD return. After a short run, Kyle Williams broke through to hurry Dick into throwing short. Skinner's punt rolled dead on the LSU 30.
    A 4y run and two incompletions caused Jackson to punt - another beauty to the 23.
    Arkansas's last three drives had consisted of nine plays for -8y. But that trend turned around on one play when Dick threw long to Marcus Monk open at the LSU 35. He was pushed out on the 22. Then Claude Wroten roughed the passer on the next play to move the pigskin to the 11. But that's as far as the Razorbacks got. When three plays netted -2, Balsiero booted a 30y FG. LSU 10 Arkansas 3 (7:22)
    Starting from the 20, Addai gained 4 on two runs but then dropped a pass that would have moved the change. Jackson then uncorked his poorest punt so far to the UA 45.
    But the Hogs couldn't take advantage, moving only 5y. Green took the punt into the wind at the 23.
    The Tigers moved into enemy territory on a WR screen to Green who ran 29y to the 36. That play took Bowe off the hook for dropping a pass when he was wide open on the previous play. But on 3rd down, Russell looped a pass to Brazell who was double-covered. Vickiel Vaughn made the leaping interception at the 8 with two minutes left.
    Aided by a false start penalty, LSU stuffed McFadden three times to force a punt from the EZ. But they could stop the clock only once. So it looked like Arkansas would escape when Skinner lined up at the back line with less than 20 seconds on the clock. But a low snap caused him to eat the ball as Irly Doucet tackled him for a safety. LSU 12 Arkansas 3 (0:12)

    Doucet tackles Skinner for a safety.
    A squib kick went to Green on the 20, his return taking him to the 37. LSU lined up in Hail Mary formation, but Russell was besieged by three rushers. So he pushed the ball forward to Addai who ran all the way to the 23 before being tackled with no time on the clock.
    Halftime score: LSU 12 Arkansas 3

The halftime statistics showed that McFadden gained only 43y on 17 carries.

  • Q3: The Tiger offense came out like they meant business. First, Green took the squib kick on the bounce at the 15 and weaved his way to midfield. After Addai gained 5 and Russell overthrew Brazell on a fly pattern, JaMarcus scrambled to the 37 for a first down. Behind excellent blocking, Addai ran twice to the 26. Then the big QB ran out of the pocket again to the 14. Two more Addai runs gained 6y but sent him out of the game with a tweaked ankle. On the 3rd down incompletion, Arkansas committed two penalties - offside and holding. The holding made it 1st-and-goal at the 4. The Jumbo boys came in and led Vincent into the EZ from there. LSU 19 Arkansas 3 (10:40)
    LSU enjoyed a comfortable lead but little did they know that they would not score again, and momentum would switch on the kickoff. McFadden took it at the 2 and ran untouched to the LSU 17 where Daniel Francis pushed him out of bounds to save the TD. But the Tigers dug in and held the Hogs to 6y on three plays. So Balseiro came in for a chip shot 28y FG that he pushed wide right.
    But Arkansas would be back knocking on the door again.
    With UA crowding the box, Vincent lost 5y on two runs. So Fisher went back to the bubble screen to Green. It gained 12 but that was 3 short of a first down. So Jackson punted to the 32.
    On 2nd down, CB Ronnie Prude almost made a great play, grabbing a pass away from FB Peyton Hollis. But with nothing but green grass in front of him, he couldn't get the handle on the ball. McFadden took a pitch on 3rd-and-9 and cut back up the middle to the LSU 43. Arkansas rolled to a TD from there. Dick tossed to Monk for 9. Offside LSU added 5. Then from the 29, Casey ran left to avoid pressure and threw to Washington at the 15. Cedric eluded two tacklers down the sideline and dove to the pylon for UA's first TD of the afternoon. McFadden then ran in the two-point conversion - UA's first attempt of the season. LSU 19 Arkansas 11 (3:33)
    A block in the back on the kickoff started the Tigers at the 11. Needing to regain momentum, the LSU offense got a break on a 3rd down incompletion when holding was flagged. A short pass and two Vincent runs moved the chains again to the 28. Three more runs gained 10 more to give the Tigers another first down as the period ended. LSU held a 283-175 edge in total yardage.
    Q3 ENDS: LSU 19 Arkansas 11
  • Q4: Another interference penalty gave LSU a first down three plays into the period. Bowe was leveled as he ran toward a Russell pass that sailed out of bounds. 1st down at the UA 45. On the next play, Russell faked a handoff and ran a naked reverse around RE. With plenty more yards in front of him, he tripped on his own feet at the 37. That proved crucial because, on the next play, Vincent dropped the handoff, and a red jersey, Keith Jackson, fell on the ball at the 35.
    Dick threw to FB Hillis for 5. Then Jones took a handoff and pushed through three tacklers for 3 more - a sign of the fatigue infecting the Tiger D. After another pass to Hillis for a 1st at the LSU 49, Arkansas went to a razzle-dazzle play. Dick threw a backward pass far to the left to WR Washington, who then threw back down the right sideline to Hillis wide open at the 20. Prude raced over and pushed him out of bounds at the 4.
    Washington on the flea flicker: We work on that all the time, we just haven't ran it yet. We have been waiting for them to pull it out the bag. We want to execute it whenever we can.
    On 1st down, Dick missed a TD when he threw behind TE Mason Templeton in the EZ. McFadden plunged to the 1, then pushed over on the next play. Without question, Arkansas would go for 2 to tie. After a lengthy timeout, they lined up with four receivers, two wide to each side. Dick threw left into the INT but Chevis Jackson intercepted. LSU 19 Arkansas 17 (10:34)
    Starting from their 25 after the kickoff, LSU's offense could not regain mo­mentum. On the first play, the fired up Razorbacks sacked Russell all the way back at the 11. Following Vincent's 11y run, JaMarcus made an ill-ad­vised throw falling back under pressure toward Davis, who was double covered. Vaughn won the jump ball to give UA possession on their 46.
    Vaughn on his two INTs: We just played our defense. Our front four were getting great pressure and our corners were covering well. I was just helping my corner. It wasn't really anything extra; everyone just did their job and I just found myself in a position to intercept the ball.
    LSU needed a big play from their defense and they got it. As McFadden started around LE, DE Chase Pittman knocked the ball from his grasp. It lay on the grass from a second or two before big C Jonathan Luigs, from a prone position, reached out a big paw and raked it in for a 9y loss.

    Chase Pittman knocks ball away from Darren McFadden.
    Then Pittman and Oliver sacked Dick for another 3y loss. Jones tried a draw play but Ali Highsmith and Pittman smothered him after a 1y gain. So Arkansas punted to the 21.
    After Vincent was dropped for a yard loss, Bowe dropped two straight pass­es - a slant-in and an out pattern at the sideline, either of which would have produced a 1st down. Jackson punted to Hillis, who made a fair catch at his 35.
    Back out came the Purple & Gold defense to try to hang on when the Hogs needed only a FG to take the lead. With Bo Pelini calling blitzes on almost every play, Dick threw the ball away on 1st down and overthrew an open receiver on the next snap. On 3rd down, he threw a backward pass to Mc­Fadden in the left flat. The big RB got up a head of steam and looked like he might make the first down, but Jesse Daniels belted him at the 40. So Skinner came in to punt. The ball fell short of Green but rolled down the sideline all the way to the 5.
    Desperately needing to at least run off some clock and get the ball away from their EZ, Russell & Company got a 3y run from Vincent and a diving catch by Doucet to make it 3rd-and-2. But JaMarcus threw behind Brazell running short across the middle in traffic. Needing to come through one more time, Jackson punted 37y to midfield with less than four minutes to go.
    So the LSU defense, much maligned after the first two games against Ari­zona State and Tennessee, had to throw up a barricade to keep the Hogs from getting into FG range. Dick rolled right on 1st down and threw short to TE Jared Hicks who failed to get out of bounds after just a 2y gain. McFadden ran up the middle, but DT Glen Dorsey tackled him low for a gain of only 2. As Arkansas lined up for 3rd down, LSU called timeout with 2:22 showing. When play resumed, Hillis ran a wheel route down the left sideline but was well covered as Dick overthrew him. So it came down to 4th down. Arkansas was 10-for-22 on 4th downs while LSU's defense had stopped 6-of-12 4th down tries. After an Arkansas timeout, Dick took the snap, started right, then pitched back left to McFadden. Running to his left, Darren lobbed the ball to Monk who caught it just before stepping out of bounds on the 32. 1st down Razorbacks! They still needed some more yards for the FG try.
    For some reason, De'Arrius Howard lined up at RB instead of McFadden, Jones, or Hillis. Vaughn wrapped up Howard as soon as he took the hand­off for a 2y loss. Dick faded back and threw down the right side toward Monk. Landry got two hands on the ball but couldn't hold on. Then Dick went back looking to his left, but he held the ball too long and Oliver en­veloped him at the 41. That made it 4th-and-19. Nutt used his last timeout. What trick play would Arkansas pull out of the hat? Dick took the snap and rolled back to his right to pass. Wroten eluded his blocker and caused Dick to duck out of the way, then throw the ball blindly down the middle of the field. With no receiver near the ball, Landry jumped and intercepted inside the 10. He ran the ball back to the 35 to ice the game. LSU was penalized for a block in the back that put the ball on the 12, but that was of no conse­quence.
    Dick on his last pass: I was rolling out, and I saw the blitz coming. I just wanted to give our team a chance. I turned around and threw it over the mid­dle hoping somebody would be able to get it, just didn't happen.
    Russell took a knee twice. LSU hangs on to win the Boot and have a chance to win their third SEC championship in five years.
    FINAL: LSU 19 ARKANSAS 17


Ricky Jean-Francois and Terrell McGill claim The Boot for LSU.
Postgame

LSU

  • Miles: First of all, credit is due to Arkansas. I think they came in here and played very emotion­ally. We certainly did not play our best in several ways. But like this team has done all year, we needed whatever unit was on the field, in this particular instance it happened to be the defense, and they played big. If you look at it, time and time again we turned to the defense, and the defense came through. They played extremely well, and there were miscues with the offense and some misfires and some dropped passes and some mistakes. It was not sharp play. And for the first time, we saw some miscues on our special teams. But again, those things certainly can be fixed. And our defense came to play. I felt like going into this game that as much as we tried to separate our last two opponents before the SEC Championship game, our team seemed to link those two opponents. They thought the game they had prior to this one would be very similar to this one. I felt personally that this would be a difficult game for us to be focused on and play as a full team, offense, defense and special teams. And certainly it was. Again, it was due to the credit of a very good Arkansas team. But we won, and it feels good. We're the (SEC) Western Division Champions, and with our accomplishment we get another opponent. ... I think our team can focus fully on a game plan and understand the fact that we did not play well, we need to practice and there's always room to improve. I think this practice week will be one where we will look to play in all three phases, offense, defense and special teams, improve and look forward to the match-up versus Georgia in the championship game.
  • Jessie Daniels: One of our goals was to go to the SEC Championship, and from there we took it one week at a time. We had a rough start, but we had to get back on our regular schedule, so we took it one week at a time and we kept working harder and harder every week. On nearly losing the lead in the second half: Oh, I love games like that knowing that we're going to come out and finish the game on defense. There is no greater feeling than knowing that you're going out there to play and win for your team. On the defense's improvement during the season: In the beginning of the year we were a little slow adjusting to the new defense and getting the communication down, but about midseason we started communicating well and we started getting used to Coach Pelini's defense, which is a great defense, and when we are all on the same page and we are doing everything right I don't think anybody can do anything against us.
  • Ronnie Prude on the progression of the defense: The first game, Arizona State, was a little shaky on the defense, but we improved. We made the commitment, each and every one of us, that we are going to stay together, and don't get down on anybody and just come out and play 60 min­utes and that's what we did. Defense had to step up and that's what allows us to win championships.
  • OL Rudy Niswanger on winning the West: That was our goal before the season. That was some­thing we want to do for ourselves and for our new coach. Today was one of the places we had to get by to get there. It wasn't pretty, but some times games in the SEC aren't pretty. We came out and one and now we have a big one next week. On looking past Arkansas: I don't know if players were looking past the game our not, but if they were this was a wake up call. It doesn't matter who you play in the SEC you can't come out and look past them. Any team on any given day in this con­ference can beat you.

Arkansas

  • Nutt: I've never been prouder of a group of young people, that when things didn't go as we plan­ned, we planned on going to a bowl this year, they really felt that we would accomplish that goal and when you find out in mid-season that you're not it's really easy in November to let go. And that's the one thing that if you look, even to the last tackle, they were laying it on the field, every­thing they had, they were leaving it on the field and that's what you love. I love the heart, the attitude of never letting go. I had very few seniors that played today, but I am going to miss the ones that did play with us today ... all of these guys have just done so much for our program and I appreciate what they've done. I tell you what, they fought all day long today. On scoring the last 14 points of the game: It was about time that we started making plays. But you have got to give them credit, they got a great defense. We had trouble all day long and we had new guys in there, and it was hard for us to protect. We tried to do some things to get the ball off very quickly, which we did some of the time, but that's what happens ... They are so run conscious of McFadden that it was hard for us to gain very much today. You have got to give them credit, that's where their defensive line, of all seniors - thank goodness they are seniors because it seems like they've been here for a long time, and they controlled the line of scrimmage. But when we had to make some plays, when you go back and look, we missed some opportunities. We missed a field goal, we missed some opportunities in there and that's what hurts.
  • Casey Dick: We came in here knowing we had nothing to lose and they had everything to lose. We just tried to keep them off balance with some trick plays. We wanted to keep them on their toes. We had our chances, we just didn’t execute on some of them.

To be continued ...

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Season in Time: 2005

Tiger Den Archives – I

First LSU Football Game
One-Game Sensation
Tigers Invade Ebbets Field
Dazzling Debut: Tommy Hodson
Streak Buster: LSU vs Alabama 1993
Dazzling Debut: Cecil Collins
Tiger First: Notre Dame Game
Memorable Game: Alabama 1945
Tiger First: UAB Game

Tiger Den Archives – II

Origin of the Chinese Bandits
Leave Coach Dietzel Alone!
Six Straight TD Catches
How Addai Ended Up at LSU
LSU AD on His Coaches
Pro Football Hall of Famers
Streak Buster: UNC 1949
Streak Buster: Alabama 1982

Tiger Den Archives – III

First College Replay
Memorable Game: Tulane 1949
Profile: Robert Dugas
First Big Ten Opponent
Profile: Michael Mahtook
Memorable Game: Tulane 1965
Profile: Alvin Roy
Memorable Game: Ole Miss 1959
Interesting Story: Andre Lafleur

Tiger Den Archives – IV

Firsts: Victory, Home Victory, Winning Season
You Can't Keep a Good Man Down
First NFL Draftee
It's a Miracle!
Dazzling Debut: Alvin Dark
Dazzling Debut: Charlie McClendon
Memorable Game: Tulane 1972
Memorable Game: Tennessee 2000
Dynamic Duo

Tiger Den Archives – V

LSU Lost a Game and a Coach
The Night Big Ben Came to Tiger Stadium
Profile: Tommy Casanova
Profile: Richard Dickson
Memorable Game: Oregon 1932
Buckeyes First LA Invasion
From Braces to All-America
Memorable Game: Georgia 1935
"The Year of the Extra Point"
Brodhead Takes Over

Tiger Den Archives – VI

First Southern Team to Fly to a Game
Memorable Game: Florida State 1991
7-0 in 1973
Profile: John Ed Bradley
Super Bowl Bengals
Recruiting Tales
Memorable Game: Tulane 1937
Scoreless String
Profile: Dub Jones

Tiger Den Archives – VII

Dietzel Returns
Profile: Bert Jones
Largest Crowd in SEC History
Win One for the Bear
Profile: Ken Kavanaugh
Why Didn't He Go to Florida?
No Married Players

Tiger Den Archives – VIII

First Appearance of Mascot Mike
Faust Fever
Profile: Alvin Dark
"LSU is not a class team"
Saban's First Rematch
But Did He Beat Tulane?

Tiger Den Archives – IX

"Give Them My Regards in Baton Rouge"
"Football Is Strictly an Afternoon Game"
When Washington Came to Baton Rouge
Tigers vs Badgers I & II | Profile: Y.A. Tittle

Tiger Den Archives – X

Streak Buster: LSU @ Auburn 1970
Dazzling Debut: Coach Jerry Stovall
Profile: Leonard Fournette
Terry Bradshaw: "I know how it all got started."
Profile: Young Bussey I-VI

Tiger Den Archives – XI

Streak Buster: LSU @ Auburn 1970
Dazzling Debut: Coach Jerry Stovall
Profile: Leonard Fournette
Terry Bradshaw: "I know how it all got started."
Profile: Young Bussey I-VI

LSU Bowl Games

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