Louisiana Hogs Not Looking At LSU
Arkansas left guard Stephen Parker received only one recruiting letter from LSU as a senior at Mandeville (La.) St. Paul Catholic, but he doesn't have any illl feelings toward the Tigers. He said the goal -- like it is at the start of every season -- is doing whatever it takes to reach a bowl.
And it all comes down to this one game for the 5-5 Razorbacks.
"They stand in between us and sitting on our butts for four weeks, watching other teams go bowling," Parker said. "Seeing other teams get to go on trips, go out to eat and getting the bowl gifts ... We call it Christmas."
That's why a post-game celebration will be sweet, regardless of the opponent.
"It is LSU and I grew up not too far from the school," said Hogs cornerback Darius Vinnett, who's from St. Rose. La. "I've been watching LSU football ever since I was little, so it does kind of make the game a little more important to me.
"But the main thing is we've just got to go out and win this game no matter who it is on that other sideline."
Parker, who attended several LSU games while in high school, said home field will be an advantage Friday.
"I wasn't just a big LSU fan, but I'd go to the games," Parker said. "It was an incredible atmosphere. so I know all about Death Valley (LSU's Tiger Stadium) and Tiger Bait and all that stuff.
"But Little Rock's like our own little mini-Death Valley, and they've got to come up here and play us."
Hogs defensive lineman Reggie Banks also is from Louisiana. LSU has two players from Arkansas. They are linebacker Matt Stoltz (Pulaski Academy) and offensive lineman Brett Helms (Stuttgart), both true freshmen who are redshirting.
Arkansas coach Houston Nutt is 17-0 overall and 3-0 against LSU in War Memorial Stadium, which is widely considered one of the toughest venues on opponents in the Southeastern Conference.
"We got off to good start the first couple of years and really started building on that," Nutt said. "Then, the crowd definitely plays every play. They'll be there early, stay late and we just have a lot of confidence down there and hopefully we can continue to keep that going."
For the ninth time since its inception, Arkansas and LSU will be playing for "The Golden Boot," a trophy shaped like the two states combined.
It is believed to be the heaviest trophy awarded in a college football rivalry, weighing approximately 175 pounds.
In each of the last six meetings, all under Nutt, the home team has claimed the boot.
True freshman Marcus Monk has spent extra time this week learning how to tweak his routes when faced with double teams.
Mississippi State held the Hogs leading receiver to just two catches for 11 yards in a 24-21 Arkansas win and the Razorbacks fully expect Monk to draw the similar attention against LSU.
With Monk taking up two defenders against the Rebels, it opened up pass plays to Cedric Washington, who had a career-high 101 yards on 5 receptions, and Steven Harris, who had a team-high 6 catches for 71 yards.
"It's just technique really," Monk said. "I know there are going to be double teams now and Ole Miss double teamed a whole lot more than anybody had this year. You could tell because of how everything else opened up with Ced and Steven getting more balls.
"They doubled me, but it still left other things open and what's good for the team is good with me."
Washington came up two yards short of the end zone after catching a 44-yard pass from quarterback Matt Jones which set up the Hogs' first touchdown, a 2-yard run by De'Arrius Howard in the second quarter.
"I just try to make plays when I can and Matt and the offensive line gave us opportunities," Washington said. "When the opportunity arises, you've got to take advantage because you might not get another chance."
Monk leads the team with 512 yards and 6 touchdowns and 34 receptions, which broke Richard Smith's freshman record of 33 receptions set in 2000. He's fifth in the NCAA in receiving yards per game (55.2) for freshmen.
Harris is second on the team with 32 receptions for 560 yards and 3 touchdowns while Washington is third with 17 catches for 284 yards and a touchdown.
Arkansas has outscored opponents 67-24 in the fourth quarter and has won all five games this season when leading at the end of the third quarter.
"I want it to get to the fourth quarter, I think that's key for us," Nutt said. "Get it to the fourth quarter. With our crowd, home-field advantage, get to the fourth quarter."
Only Florida (touchdown), Georgia (field goal), South Carolina (touchdown) and Mississippi State (touchdown) have scored on the Razorbacks in the fourth quarter this season.
The Tigers lead the SEC in turnovers as they've coughed the ball up 23 times, including 14 fumbles.
"Hopefully just one more time, one more game, they can keep doing that," Nutt said. "We always stress that. We need turnovers and two to three to four will be great."
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