Arkansas at No. 24 LSU:

Hard day's plight: LSU not a fan of rare 11 a.m. game

By: Bob Holt
Published: Thursday, November 9, 2017
LSU head coach Ed Orgeron leads his team onto the field before an NCAA college football game against Auburn in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)
LSU head coach Ed Orgeron leads his team onto the field before an NCAA college football game against Auburn in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)

FAYETTEVILLE -- LSU football fans might head to Tiger Stadium on Saturday morning directly from wherever they're out and about Friday night.

"Sounds like a good idea," LSU Coach Ed Orgeron said. "I think they'll be here.

"From what I hear, we're going to have a great crowd. I know our fans are excited with the type of football we've been playing lately."

The Tigers' game against the Arkansas Razorbacks is starting at 11 a.m. to accommodate an ESPN telecast.

According to LSU, it's the earliest start for an SEC home game going back to at least 1969. The previous earliest SEC start was 11:21 a.m. in 2011 when LSU beat Kentucky 35-7.

"We're going to need all our fans to come on up early, drink some coffee, put a little something in it, and get in Tiger Stadium," said Orgeron, who was an Arkansas graduate assistant from 1987-1988. "Come enjoy the day with us because it's going to be a great game."

LSU (6-3, 3-2 SEC) has a long tradition of preferring night games at Tiger Stadium, and the administration has lobbied the SEC and its TV partners to avoid early starts when possible.

"I know our fans don't like it. I don't, either," LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva told The Advocate of Baton Rouge about the Tigers' kickoff time against the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. "I picked up the phone immediately and worked through the SEC to get it changed. The SEC fought for us. They always do on these things.

"We have a great contract with ESPN that affords us a lot of opportunity for exposure and has been very profitable for this program. But every now and then, very rarely, this happens with TV scheduling."

The earliest start for an LSU game since 1969 was 10:06 a.m. against Appalachian State in the 2008 season opener when the game, won 41-13 by the Tigers, moved from a night kickoff due to Hurricane Gustav.

LSU receiver DJ Chark, who has team-highs of 25 catches for 588 yards, said the Tigers just need to adjust their game-day routine.

"Got to get everything going early, wake up out of your sleep," Chark said. "Can't be sleeping on the field. It's something you have to start training yourself through the week."

LSU might prefer playing at night, but the Tigers are 14-1 in their past 15 days games, including a 27-23 victory over Auburn on Oct. 14 when they overcame a 20-0 deficit.

Razorbacks Coach Bret Bielema said he doesn't believe his team is catching a break by playing LSU at 11 a.m.

"I get the question, but I'll bet if you ask LSU in their locker room, they like playing Arkansas any time," Bielema said. "It's a rivalry game. The LSU team I've seen on film looks like they're ready to play pretty much all the time."

LSU has won three of four games -- losing 24-10 at Alabama last week -- since Troy pulled a 24-21 upset in Tiger Stadium on Sept. 30.

Orgeron credited the Tigers' team leaders for getting the season back on track.

"I just think we dug deep, and we looked at what we were doing in practice," Orgeron said. "The intensity level, the focus and attention to detail in the meeting rooms, and understanding it doesn't matter who you play, you just can't roll that LSU helmet out and expect to win some games.

"And I think we got better at running the football. We got better at defending the run on defense."

LSU junior Derrius Guice has rushed 143 times for 782 yards and 6 touchdowns with 11 receptions for 71 yards.

Orgeron said Guice, who rushed 21 times for 252 yards and 2 touchdowns in the Tigers' 38-10 victory at Arkansas last season, is back to full speed after being slowed by a left leg injury.

"He's the healthiest he's been," Orgeron said. "You can see the change in the way he's run the football."

Razorbacks defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads said Guice is among the best running backs Arkansas has faced the past two seasons.

"To me, he's a complete back," Rhoads said. "He catches the ball well. He runs it. He runs it with power. He runs it with speed. He has the ability to make you miss.

"When I say he runs with power, he is stout. He's not going to be a guy that you're going to one-man tackle very well and take him backwards."

LSU has another strong back in senior Darrel Williams, who has run 108 times for 559 yards and 6 touchdowns with 16 receptions for 241 yards.

Williams took a direct snap at Alabama last week and ran for 54 yards to set up his 2-yard touchdown run.

The Tigers, who outgained the Crimson Tide 192 to 155 in rushing yards, are averaging 209 yards to rank fifth in the SEC and 32nd nationally.

LSU is sixth in the SEC and 41st nationally in run defense, holding opponents to an average of 142.4 yards.

Tigers sophomore linebacker Devin White leads the SEC with 89 tackles. Senior defensive end Christian LaCouture and senior nose guard Greg Gilmore share the team lead with 5Ā½sacks each.

LaCouture said this week he set his alarm for 6:30 a.m. Sunday, even after the team returned home late after a night game at Alabama, because he wanted to start waking up at the time he will Saturday.

"You're not usually ready for an 11 a.m. game," LaCouture said. "But Coach O will get us ready for that. We'll be ready."

LSU 2017 SCHEDULE (6-3, 3-2 SEC)

Sept. 2;BYU, W 27-0

Sept. 9;Tennessee-Chattanooga, W 45-10

Sept. 16;at Mississippi State, L 37-7

Sept. 23;Syracuse, W 35-26

Sept. 30;Troy, L 24-21

Oct. 7;at Florida, W 17-16

Oct. 14;Auburn, W 27-23

Oct. 21;at Ole Miss, W 40-24

Nov. 4;at Alabama, L 24-10

Nov. 11;Arkansas, 11 a.m. Saturday (ESPN)

Nov. 18;at Tennessee

Nov. 25;Texas A&M

Sports on 11/09/2017

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