Sunday, December 1, 2013
What we learned: Week 14
By David Ching
Here are three things we learned in No. 17 LSU's 31-27 win against Arkansas on Friday:
Jennings has the goods: Zach Mettenberger has enjoyed an exceptional senior season as LSU's quarterback, but Arkansas was still in the lead when Mettenberger left the game with a knee injury. That brought on true freshman quarterback Anthony Jennings, who was 2-for-3 for 23 yards this season before Friday. And all Jennings did was lead a 99-yard, go-ahead touchdown drive and hit Travin Dural with the winning 49-yard touchdown pass with 1:15 to play -- and he did it with a backup center and offensive tackle and with star receiver Odell Beckham out of the game. Mettenberger is a future NFL quarterback who won't be easy to replace, but the dual-threat Jennings showed that he has some impressive playmaking ability of his own.
Interesting offseason: The story of the last offseason for LSU was its mind-boggling number of losses on defense, mostly to underclassmen who entered the draft with college eligibility remaining. Their absences were evident, as John Chavis' defense dealt with consistency issues for much of the fall. The shoe could be on the other foot for the Tigers next season. Mettenberger (14-for-22 for 156 yards and one interception against Arkansas) will definitely be gone. Star receivers Beckham (one catch for 16 yards) and Jarvis Landry (8 catches for 113 yards), both juniors, could also join him in the draft pool. The Tigers should still have tailbacks Jeremy Hill (20 carries, 145 yards, TD) and Terrence Magee (7 carries,58 yards, 2 TDs), but the offense could lose a lot of firepower soon. Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron might soon be in the same position as Chavis was this year.
Wrong kind of history for Hogs: Arkansas has had bad seasons in the past -- last year was no great shakes, in fact -- but none quite like this. By losing its lead late in Friday's game, Arkansas completed its first winless season in conference play since it joined the SEC in 1992. That 0-8 conference mark was part of a nine-game losing streak to close the season, with six of those defeats coming against teams that were ranked when they beat the Hogs. Arkansas couldn't have salvaged its season by winning in Baton Rouge, but it would have made the offseason much more tolerable.