Next up: another struggling SEC foe in Tennessee, fresh off a coaching change.
Can the Volunteers present much of a challenge? Or will the Tigers carry their momentum right through the trip to Knoxville and back home against Texas A&M?
Jerit Roser and Mark Clements break down the eventual rout of the Razorbacks — including Danny Etling’s 11-for-16 performance, D.J. Chark’s big day, Derrius Guice’s three touchdowns, the kicking issues and the top defensive performances — and preview the trip to Knoxville, Tenn.
A muffed punt in the opening minutes provided a moment of concern that Saturday’s rare 11 a.m. kickoff might provide some difficulties for D.J. Chark and 16-point favorite LSU (7-3).
But the senior wide receiver bounced back from the early miscue, just as he had during the team’s most recent home game, and played a leading role in the Tigers’ eventual 33-10 dismissal of Arkansas.
“You’re gonna make mistakes,” he said. “But I’m blessed to be able to get another opportunity after I might mess up. No one wants to mess up. But if you do, you have to shake it off and worry about it after the game … I just came in after the mistake early on and was able to talk to the special teams guys and just find ways to not let that happen again, try not to force things and take what they gave us. And I’m just happy to just go back out on offense and contribute.”
By the end of the first quarter, Chark had hauled in a 45-yard touchdown pass from Danny Etling for the morning’s first score.
The duo added a beautiful 68-yard connection — one of their best of the season and a highlight of a 26-point second half — on the first play of the fourth quarter to essentially, finally put the Razorbacks away.
“I’m just blessed to be put in those opportunities,” Chark said. “We never really think about the statistics. We just play to each other’s strengths. And I feel like the coaches see (the long ball) as one of my strengths, and we were able to execute it.”
And Chark’s 130 yards on four receptions led Etling’s six different receivers and accounted for 59.9 percent of the quarterback’s passing yardage for the day.
Ed Orgeron and his players took a page from Les Miles’ playbook Saturday on an steamy afternoon on which the former coach and his 2007 national championship team were honored at halftime.
“Rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated,” Miles joked two years ago after a hospital trip he later attributed to over-caffeination.
The Tigers (5-2, 2-1) showed little signs of life for the first nearly 20 minutes Saturday en route to a 20-0 deficit to visiting No. 10 Auburn (5-2, 3-1).
But a team many critics all but left for dead rallied together and scored 27 of the contest’s final 30 points to clinch their biggest comeback against an SEC opponent since 1977 and a second straight conference victory, 27-23.
“Gut check,” Orgeron said. “Gut check. We realized that, No. 1, I had to coach better, our staff had to coach better, our players had to practice better, and we had to have some leadership on our football team. But we were gonna be resilient. We weren’t gonna give up. We were gonna block out the noise. We were gonna fix the things that were fixable, and we’ve continued to do that.”