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TOP 5 PERFORMANCES VS ARKANSAS

Updated: Sep 26, 2023

By LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN

FOLLOW ON X @LonnPhillips


Let's go through our picks for LSU's top 5 performers from Saturday night's 34-31 win, a game which featured elite second half offense, a steady (even underfed) rushing attack, a defense that was overmatched yet still recorded 2 interceptions, 6 tackles for loss, 3 PBUs, 3 sacks and 20 pressures, as our offense clocked over 500 yards for the third straight game, culminating in a big win to clinch a 2-0 start in SEC play.


5. HAROLD PERKINS

6 Tackles

3 Pressures

2 Forced Fumbles

1.5 TFLs

1 Sack


Perkins littered the stat sheet in one of his best performances of 2023, forcing his first 2 fumbles of the season when delivering hits on QB KJ Jefferson, sacking a quarterback for the second straight Saturday, recording nearly half of his season total in tackles for loss (1.5 in the game, 3.5 on the season, leading the team), and provided some solid moments of havoc all over Arkansas' backfield.

Still, I have to feel like defensive coordinator Matt House must unleash his superstar defender, allowing him to attack the backfield at his discretion, especially given the rise & speed of trusted freshman LB Whit Weeks, plus the cover provided by Greg Penn III's underrated, but incredibly impactful playmaking.

We witnessed a somewhat handcuffed Perkins on Saturday, still making plays within the rigid assignment football which shackles his talents, albeit to a far lesser degree than we watched during the Florida State loss.

Forcing 2 fumbles and sacking Jefferson at ease, it seems like a missed opportunity. Regardless, 17 other pressures stemmed from Tigers who weren't Harold and LSU could only muster 3 sacks, counting his....there's no excuse for that lack of finishing, and that can't always be blamed on Matt House's schematic decision regarding Perkins.


4. MALIK NABERS

130 Yards

8 Catches

13 Targets

2 TDs


Superfreak Malik Nabers went to work on Arkansas' hapless secondary, piling up 130 total receiving yards, 8 grabs and 2 TDs from 13 targets, answering his historic week 3 with a blistering performance once again.

Constantly winning one on one battles vs former Tiger teammate Dwight McGlothern, Nabers burned the All-SEC cornerback for one big play or 3rd down completion after another, culminating in his second straight game with multiple touchdowns for the first time in his LSU career.

Now ranked 3rd in the nation in receiving yards, Nabers is already over the 500 yard mark through just 4 games, halfway towards eclipsing his 1,000 yard season in 2022, while already reeling in 2 more TDs than last season (5).

Over his past 2 appearances, Malik produced 369 Receiving Yards, 4 TDs, 21 receptions (26 targets), and has now positioned himself as one of the top 2 or 3 WRs in America....but he may have competition for that title from one of his own teammates.


3. GREG PENN III

12 Tackles

2 Pressures

1 Sack

1 PBU


Outside of a 2 point conversion reception he allowed, linebacker Greg Penn III was LSU's best defender on the night, recording an immense performance that drove a beleaguered, out of their depth LSU defense forward, making just enough plays to help Jayden Daniels' offense seal the deal.

Penn was everywhere, becoming the first Tiger to sack KJ Jefferson on the night, batting a pass at the line, getting in on 12 total tackles (game-high tied with Major Burns), playing with stoneborn grit and vicious intensity, backed by a maniacal aggression throughout proceedings.

The stability & experience of Penn also helped to settle freshman Whit Weeks and free up super athlete Harold Perkins. The Baltimore native and LSU's 2nd leading tackler last fall is proving to be one of the Tigers' most valuable defensive assets....and Head Coach Brian Kelly agrees.

"Greg is a settling factor, he communicates very well & that's a guy we wanna keep on the field. The best rotation keeps Greg on the field & then we move guys in and out with him."

2. JAYDEN DANIELS

320 Passing Yards

20/29

4 TDs

1 INT

45 Rushing Yards

10 Rushes

1 Tackle


In the most shocking way possible, LSU QB Jayden Daniels answered his historic week 3 performance by completely regressing during LSU's poor first half vs Arkansas, missing 5 throws far too low, including a pass which hurt Malik Nabers for a few plays and another which Brian Thomas Jr had no chance at catching.......in the end, missing potential big plays and killing drives.

Facing a 10 point deficit with just 3 points on the board, throwing an ill advised interception, and just under 2 minutes remaining in the 2nd quarter, the anti-JD5 murmurs began to assemble online....even after he threw another underthrown, but catchable touchdown to Brian Thomas Jr on the stroke of half.

But any doubts were silenced quickly by Daniels' unbelievable second half, answering his worst statistical passing start by destroying Arkansas' secondary through the air at will, finding his location and delivering strike after strike for Nabers and Thomas Jr, finishing with 4 touchdown passes (3 in the second half alone), and carving up the Razorbacks for 20/29 to accompany his third 300 yard passing game out of four contests.

The fact that everything went against Daniels and the offense for nearly an entire half, only for JD5 to completely turn it around, should be extremely reassuring for LSU fans.

It isn't always going to look pretty or perfect, but what Jayden Daniels is doing at quarterback is special right now and should only continue to get better.


1 BRIAN THOMAS JR

133 Yards

5 Catches

7 Targets

16.5 Avg

2 TDs


LSU's most valuable performer vs Arkansas on Saturday night???

Receiving the game ball from Head Coach Brian Kelly in the postgame locker room, we also felt third year WR Brian Thomas Jr was deserving of our #1 spot.

Not only is he worthy as our Tiger perfomer due to the volume of his playmaking, but really Thomas Jr's selection is all about the timing & the manner in which our junior WR pulled LSU out of the jaws of a profligate offensive quagmire.

Headlined by a crazy play where Thomas Jr undercut a DB on an errant pass, reeled the ball in, only for an Arkansas DB to knock it loose; the ball hung in the air for a split second above his shoulder pad as Brian bobbled it twice, then maintained enough concentration to pull the ball back in, make a man miss after the catch and ultimately stride into the end zone to the roaring delight of Death Valley's raging 12th man.

Regardless of his solid numbers in the past, including his game vs Florida St, this is the Brian Thomas Jr we expected when Coach Ed Orgeron & Mickey Joseph recruited him out of Walker High....the receiver Nick Saban tried damn near everything to sign.

This was Brian Thomas Jr's best game as a Tiger (leading the way with 133 yards, 5 catches, 7 targets and 2 TDs)....not statistically, this was something more important: Cortez Hankton's towering #2 had a game-changing aerial impact, playing like a #1 WR, and elevating his struggling quarterback.

Scoring a critical touchdown right before halftime that cut Arkansas' surprise 10 point lead to 3, Thomas gave LSU their biggest play over 2 quarters.....before BTJ and Malik both took turns geauxing Hogwild.

But it was that first touchdown, during the final moments of an awful first half, when someone needed to step up, that actually propelled LSU to victory against Arkansas.

....and Brian Thomas Jr answered the call....


HONORABLE MENTIONS

ANDRE SAM

-7 Tackles

-1 TFL

-1 PBU


LOGAN DIGGS

-97 Rushing Yards

-66 After Contact

-14 Carries

-5 Missed Tackles Forced


BRADYN SWINSON

-4 Pressures

-2 Tackles

-2 QB Hits

-1 PBU

-0.5 TFL


JORDAN JEFFERSON

.-2 Pressures

-1 QB Hit

-0.5 TFL


WHIT WEEKS

-9 Tackles

-2 Pressures

-1 QB Hit


DASHAWN WOMACK

-5 Total Snaps

-3 Pressures

-2 Tackles (both solo)

-1 QB Hit

-1 Sack

-1 TFL


By LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN

©️ 2023 Uninterrupted Writings Inc, a subsidiary of Uninterrupted Media LLC

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All great choices. I wish our defensive stalwarts will prove more consistent. Even our very best look confused at times and lack assignment discipline.

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