Tell The Truth Monday: LSU and Arkansas are in the same class -- this year
It’s Tell The Truth Monday.
And here’s the truth: LSU is in its weight class this week as it visits Arkansas.
Yeah, Arkansas gave up almost 600 yards in a 63-35 loss to Florida on Saturday.
Yeah, Arkansas has a losing record (3-4).
And yeah, it wouldn’t be accurate to say that Sam Pittman has pulled the Razorbacks’ program even with the Tigers’ program in his first season.
But on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, the 2020 LSU team and the 2020 Arkansas team will be on equal footing.
That’s the truth.
The Tigers are 2-3 and haven’t played since Halloween, when they lost at Auburn 48-11. They had an open date Nov. 7 and their game against Alabama scheduled for last Saturday was postponed because of COVID-19 issues in the Tigers’ program.
The Razorbacks, meanwhile, visited The Swamp without Pittman, who had tested positive for COVID-19, to take on Florida.
They weren’t competitive. They couldn’t offer any resistance to Kyle Trask even though he was operating without his best weapon – Kyle Pitts, who was sidelined by injury.
In fact they kind of looked like the LSU defense – against Mississippi State, against Missouri, against Auburn.
LSU was as defenseless against those teams as Arkansas was against Florida, but Florida is a much better team than any of the 3 teams that have beaten the Tigers.
Giving up nearly 600 yards to Florida isn’t as bad as giving up more than 600 to Mississippi State or nearly 600 to Missouri or more than 500 to Auburn.
Speaking of teams that have beaten LSU, Arkansas has played 2 of them – Mississippi State and Auburn. The Razorbacks beat State and lost to Auburn by 2 points thanks to an officiating blunder.
Arkansas also has beaten Ole Miss and Tennessee; LSU’s victories are against Vanderbilt and South Carolina.
Comparing scores against common opponents and evaluating relative strengths of schedule can be misleading. But so can allowing preseason expectations to taint evaluations of in-season performance.
LSU is the defending CFP champion. It was ranked No. 6 in the AP preseason poll. It was considered at least an SEC West contender even if Alabama was accepted as the favorite.
Arkansas did not win an SEC game last season and finished 2-10 overall. That got Chad Morris fired as head coach and the Razorbacks brought in Pittman, Georgia’s associate head coach and offensive line coach, to take over.
But Arkansas has exceeded preseason expectations, LSU has fallen short of preseason expectations and the teams have met in the bottom half of the SEC West.
Pittman has the Razorbacks on the rise; the Tigers are plummeting.
There’s no telling where this is headed down the road. Pittman has years of recruiting to do before his program can contend for the SEC West title.
LSU has plenty of young talent and Ed Orgeron is well on his way to completing another in a series of top-5 recruiting classes.
The LSU program remains well ahead of the Arkansas program, but that’s not going to mean a whole lot Saturday and it definitely doesn’t mean much on this Tell The Truth Monday.
Have we seen anything from LSU’s defense that suggests it’s going to perform any better than Arkansas’ defense?
Is there any reason to believe TJ Finley or Max Johnson or a Finley-Johnson tandem is going to outperform Arkansas quarterback Feleipe Franks?
Do we have any idea of how the Tigers are going to perform after not playing either of the last 2 weekends – especially considering that the last time they did play they turned in an historically bad performance at Auburn?
LSU might go into Fayetteville and play its best game of the season. It might look like the team it was supposed to be this season and hinted at becoming against Vanderbilt and South Carolina.
The Tigers might win and even win big.
But the truth is that LSU right now is no better or worse than Arkansas.