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Hogs come close to capping off chaotic week with huge win that wasn’t

ANDY HODGES: Third-down issues, blown replays just too much for Hogs to overcome, yet they still had a shot at end to get a win over LSU.

ANDY HODGES: Third-down issues, blown replays just too much for Hogs to overcome, yet they still had a shot at end to get a win over LSU.

When you consider Arkansas tried to play an SEC game with a bunch of freshmen on the defensive front, LSU’s 27-24 win Saturday shouldn’t be surprising.

It is surprising the Razorbacks actually had a shot to win it at the end.

The fact they had any chance at all is due to the explosiveness of Kendal Briles’ offense. The fact the Hogs didn’t convert a single third down in the game and only had the ball about 30% of the time is, at times, a negative of his offense.

“You go 0-for-10 on third down, I mean, you’re asking for it,” wide receiver Mike Woods said later.

Woods was part of the boom-or-bust nature of the Hogs when they had the ball. Either way it went, they weren’t keeping it for long.

Feleipe Franks’ numbers show all of that. He was 17-of-26 passing for 339 yards, but had a costly interception that led to a Tigers’ score. He also ran for 43 yards, but slipped and tripped himself out of a few more yards there.

Arkansas isn’t good enough to overcome many of those and Saturday they couldn’t overcome that one.

Sam Pittman said it best, though, summing it all up after the game.

“Anytime you lose by three there’s so many points in the game that can go one way or the other …,” he said later.

This is one the fans will agonize over for longer than 24 hours. Coaches and players may be able to let it go after that but a lot of fans are still in agony over the loss to Auburn.

Oh, and the fans’ favorite official, Mark Curls, was wearing the white hat for the game. As expected, there were a few controversial replay decisions that went against the Hogs that will have fans up in arms for awhile.

Not Pittman, though.

“Reviews over the long run usually go about 50-50 when it’s all said and done,” he said.

Which is true. Hog fans don’t want to hear that, but it’s probably the fact of the matter. Arkansas had won a replay on the interception return that was initially ruled a touchdown, but replay put the ball at the 2.

“I could have seen very easily they would have given him that touchdown,” Pittman said.

Agree or disagree, replays and officials weren’t the reason the Hogs lost to LSU. They lost they game because of inconsistency in the interior lines on both sides of the ball.

Let’s face it, the Tigers have high-paid coaches that know what they’re doing, just like the Hogs.

“They schemed and they scheme just like us,” Franks said later. “They had a good couple play calls for ours.”

Arkansas’ offense put up more yards (443 to 419) than LSU, mostly hitting big plays. A 65-yard score to Treylon Burks started it and we discovered T.J. Hammonds is still around with a 51-yard pass reception and a 29-yard run. Mike Woods had another 50-yard reception and added a 35-yarder to go with it.

Sustaining drives was the problem. The Hogs only had 14 first downs in the game (LSU had 24) and that causes issues for the defense eventually. How Jonathan Marshall managed lugging 317 pounds around for every play is beyond me.

No, in the end it was an inability to convert third downs that ultimately nailed the coffin shut.

Pittman was frustrated because it was something the Hogs focused on in practices this week.

“Whether we had focus on it or didn’t I would imagine we would be disappointed in third down,” he said later, clearly an understatement.

No, LSU got players back on the field from some highly-recruited classes in recent years while the Hogs had many of the playmakers on the defensive front sitting at home.

Blame it on covid if you really want to attach the blame on something.

Take the blown replay reviews, covid quarantines and everything else there is still something no fan should be overlooking and it’s sort of obvious to me.

The defending national champions were nearly beat by a team with a depleted roster that went two years in a row without winning a league game and not one single recruiting class in the last five years that cracked the Top 20 in the composite rankings.

Ed Orgeron may have a bigger problem than Pittman when you look at it that way.

For the Hogs, though, it’s a win that wasn’t.

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