LSU is back in Tiger Stadium for the first time in 4 weeks on Saturday night.

Its game against Arkansas is just its second at home at night against an SEC opponent this season.

The Tigers are coming off a tough, respectable, encouraging performance, even in defeat, at No. 2 Alabama last week.

So the mood around the team is a bit lighter than it has been.

Sure, this season is still going to be unsatisfying no matter what happens during these final 3 home games.

Ed Orgeron is still a lame duck as he coaches as such in Tiger Stadium for the first time.

And a whole bunch of the team’s best players are still sidelined by injury.

But even at 4-5 and 2-4 in the SEC, LSU still has games to play, opportunities for individuals and the group to grow, time to improve the narrative being written about this season and the program’s future.

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It starts Saturday.

So here are 5 things I need to see from LSU against Arkansas:

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1. Consistency

The Tigers won their SEC opener against Mississippi State, then were erratic in a loss to Auburn and got pushed around by Kentucky.

They earned some respect in beating Florida, then got handled by Ole Miss.

Even though they lost to Alabama, they did regain some respect. It’s time for them to build on the good stuff they did last week and stop alternating steps forward and steps backward.

2. Offensive balance

LSU ran the ball really well against Florida. It ran it pretty well against Kentucky and Alabama. It hasn’t run it very well otherwise.

The passing game has been inconsistent throughout. The line has struggled, the receiving corps is injury-depleted and young, and the quarterback hasn’t been good enough to overcome that.

After 9 games, it’s time to block and run and protect and pass and catch well – all at the same time.

3. Efficient quarterback play

That offensive balance isn’t going to happen without very good quarterback play.

Max Johnson and Garrett Nussmeier are splitting the practice reps equally this week.

One will start, Orgeron says both will play early and if one separates himself, he’ll keep on playing.

Whether it’s Johnson or Nussmeier or both, the quarterback has to take care of the football, distribute it accurately and consistently and keep Arkansas’ defense on its heels.


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4. More of the same from the defense

The defense played well enough to get the upset against Alabama if the offense could have managed a third touchdown.

The Tigers were unpredictable, they held the Crimson Tide to 6 yards rushing, they pressured Bryce Young consistently and they were physical and passionate for 60 minutes.

In other words, they played the way LSU defenses are generally expected to play but seldom have during the last 2 seasons.

They need to do it again against the Razorbacks.

5. Getting bowl eligible

LSU needs 2 wins to become bowl eligible.

If it gets there, it will go to a relatively minor bowl that will do little to salvage a season that began with a preseason No. 16 ranking.

But getting to a bowl and perhaps even finishing with a winning record are 2 things this team can still accomplish in a season devoid of many accomplishments.

As Orgeron pointed out Monday, if the Tigers play with the passion and effort they showed Alabama the rest of the way, they can get bowl eligible and maybe even run the table.

The additional practices that come with a bowl berth would help with player development and the reward of a bowl bid would help the team and the program’s psyche.

If the Tigers knock off the Razorbacks, then can become bowl eligible a week later by beating outmanned Louisiana-Monroe and be playing with house money in the finale against Texas A&M.

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