Scooter Hobbs column: Freshman perks up defense

Published 6:34 am Monday, November 14, 2022

But the Tigers are heading to the Southeastern Conference Championship game whether they want to celebrate it or not.

Sure, Georgia may be licking its chops in anticipation.

But an LSU team that finished dead last in the SEC West last year and was picked to finish fifth this season, has clinched the foul thing with two games remaining in the regular season.

So why were the Tigers trudging out of Arkansas’ Reynolds Razorback Stadium Saturday looking as downtrodden as if they were headed for a pop quiz?

LSU did, in fact, win its game … I think. Double-check the scoreboard, right, LSU 13, Arkansas 10.

Then a big smile gave him away.

Great victory!” he yelled.

Yeah. What he said.

Chin up, Tigers.

Maybe the mood brightened about the exact time their homebound charter flight landed, which was the moment when an Alabama win, of all things, clinched the Tigers’ trip to Atlanta.

It wasn’t pretty, either. Didn’t matter.

It’s full-fledged November football now. Style points don’t really matter, and that’s a good thing, as any hint of football aesthetics in Fayetteville was in serious short supply.

As “trap games” go, this one, in addition to being way too early in the morning, was cold, ugly, often boring, with the LSU offensive line having a September relapse and the unquestioned star and savior of the game throwing up with the flu.

It was a cold-and-flu season kind of game.

There was enough of the “bug” going around the team that the Tigers had chicken broth on the sideline where sports drinks are normally ladled out.

Not exactly fond memories of Fayetteville.

LSU won anyway.

That’s about the best thing you can say about the Tigers’ victory over the Razorbacks.

And that’s not so bad.

I don’t know what to say about Harold Perkins Jr., except that the true freshman pretty much won the game, such that was, all by his lonesome self.

LSU’s offense sure wasn’t much help. Couldn’t protect, couldn’t get anybody open and occasional outbursts of a running game weren’t really affecting the Razorbacks or the scoreboard.

The Jayden Daniels Heisman talk quieted down for sure.

But Perkins just went out and had — and I don’t think this is overstating it — maybe the most dominant defensive game by an LSU player in memory.

What to say?

Eight tackles, four sacks, two forced fumbles, a pass breakup and umpteen quarterback hurries didn’t do it justice.

By comparison, what he did to Arkansas Saturday made some of the Honey Badger’s old shenanigans look like innocent bystander stuff.

Imagine if he hadn’t been under the weather, throwing up Saturday morning.

Kelly reminded him that MJ (Michael Jordan) had one of his biggest games with the flu.

Perkins: “Who’s MJ?”

Don’t confuse the issue, coach.

Just point that young sidewinder missile at anything that threatens this LSU team and take your chances.

He got the Tigers out of their early field position doldrums with one forced fumble.

He thought he had another late in the game, but replay correctly overturned it, showing he was a millisecond late in hitting quarterback Cade Fortin’s hand, which allowed it to move a millimeter forward, which made it an incompletion.

It was almost like he said, Really, so that’s how it works? OK, ready, go.

And with the game on the line with one last Arkansas possession, he left no doubt in stripping Fortin, this time before his arm could move forward, and it was game over.

“Impacted the game to the level that … we win the game because of his final play,” Kelly said.

Along with several others.

“I’m proud of our guys having the mental toughness to battle and find a way to win a football game when we didn’t have our A game,” Kelly said.

They had Perkins.

a

Scooter Hobbs covers LSU

athletics. Email him at

scooter.hobbs@americanpress.com