Arkansas isn’t a team to take lightly, as this rivalry has produced some nail-biting performances the last few years under Razorbacks coach Sam Pittman.
Here are three players to watch against a feisty Arkansas team with some weapons.
Jaray Jenkins (WR)
This Arkansas defense gives up a lot through the air, so it’ll be necessary for the LSU receivers to continue their strong play, even if it is a little colder. The Razorbacks are No. 108 in passing efficiency and No. 129 in passing yards allowed at 302 per game but are a group prone to make a few plays if LSU isn’t careful with the ball.
That spells for a passing feast that only Thanksgiving can compete with and is the perfect opportunity for quarterback Jayden Daniels to continue padding his stats. It’s been a bit of a slow run for Jaray Jenkins the last few weeks, with four total catches in the previous three games.
Jenkins has been Mr. Reliable for this program for three seasons, dating back to 2020, when he brought in three catches for 43 yards and a touchdown against Arkansas in Fayetteville. The Tigers’ senior receiver is due for a big game but, regardless, says this offense is playing with so much confidence at the moment it doesn’t matter who touches the ball.
“There’s still a lot more to be done from us and with Jayden as well. We can’t be satisfied and always gotta strive to be better,” Jenkins said.
Mekhi Wingo (DL)
Arkansas enters this game as a top-10 team running the football this season, so the purple and gold will need another big game from Wingo, one of the most impactful transfers in the conference this season. The Razorbacks come in averaging 233 yards with 18 touchdowns on the ground but aren’t the most efficient offense, mainly when the field shortens in the red zone.
It’ll be important for the defense to continue some of that first-half success against Alabama, where they bent but didn’t break, making the Crimson Tide settle for field goals instead of touchdowns. Arkansas relies heavily on Jefferson and running back Raheim Sanders in the backfield as the primary sources of the run game. Sanders has rushed for 1,101 yards this season on an efficient 6.4 yards per carry, so there will need to be a game plan to stop his physical run style.
The impact play of Wingo and Jaquelin Roy in the middle of that line isn’t talked about enough and the LSU defensive players know precisely what they do to leave an imprint on each game.
“They’re reliable guys. I can depend on them and they put a lot of pressure [on the o-line] and making them move off the spot,” linebacker Micah Baskerville said. “They might need to take two o-linemen sometimes and that frees me up or it might free Perkins up or BJ up so those guys are real unselfish players and play in the defensive scheme to allow others to make plays.”
It’ll be mainly on Wingo and Roy to stuff the ground game with their physical presence and if the Tigers can make Jefferson beat them with his arm, that’s probably what will lead to the most consistent success.
Joe Foucha (S)
This one is pretty simple to explain not just for Foucha but for fellow transfer Greg Brooks, who both will be going back to Arkansas for the first time since transferring to LSU. The two spent the previous three years as teammates with the Razorbacks and were two of the key pickups in the offseason for a Tigers’ secondary that needed some veteran leadership.
The safety group as a whole is coming off one of its more productive nights, with Foucha and Brooks combining for 13 tackles and one pass defended against Alabama. Now the duo turn their veteran eyes towards a familiar face in KJ Jefferson, who they know quite well having gone against him in practice as teammates.
“They’re from Louisiana and it’s really about playing for LSU and not anything to do with Arkansas. There’s not a whole lot you can do, you’ve gotta defend a dual threat quarterback,” Kelly said. “We’ve gotta do a really good job at defending with 11 players against KJ.”
“We joked with them a little bit in the defensive back meeting room,” safety Major Burns said. “Those guys have been doing a good job masking it. I can tell they want this game bad and but they’ve been executing and getting the job done.”
Foucha, Brooks, Burns and Jay Ward are all healthy now and playing well off one another as they get more comfortable with each other by the week. Their presence in being able to subdue the passing game of Arkansas will be a key point in this game.