LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels and receiver Malik Nabers were nearly perfect in the SEC opener.
Arkansas is trying to fix a few imperfections as it prepares to face the No. 12 Tigers (2-1, 1-0) in the Razorbacks’ conference opener Saturday night in Baton Rouge, La.
Daniels set a school record for pass completion percentage (25 or more attempts) when he completed 30 of 34 passes (88.2 percent) for 361 yards and two touchdowns in a 41-14 win at Mississippi State last Saturday.
Nabers caught both of Daniels’ touchdown passes and finished with 13 catches for 239 yards. He and Daniels shared the SEC Offensive Player of the Week award.
“The play of Jayden Daniels and Malik Nabers was certainly elite,” LSU head coach Brian Kelly said.
Daniels also rushed for 64 yards and two touchdowns before leaving the game early in the fourth quarter.
“He’s been outstanding,” Kelly said. “His ability to win the game with his feet and throw the ball, he was as good as anyone in the country.”
The Tigers’ defense, which couldn’t slow down Florida State in a season-opening loss and had a slow start against FCS opponent Grambling a week later, was much improved.
The unit limited Mississippi State to 94 rushing yards and sacked Will Rogers four times.
“We did the things you need to do in the SEC,” Kelly said. “(Overall) you’ve got to play with a sense of urgency and an edge. They get off to a fast start and played with great enthusiasm.”
The Razorbacks (2-1) led visiting BYU 31-21 early in the third quarter last week, but got outscored 17-0 the rest of the way.
The Cougars’ surge started shortly after they stopped Arkansas on a fourth-and-1 midway through the fourth quarter.
The Razorbacks, who allowed only 281 yards, had trouble protecting quarterback KJ Jefferson and they were penalized 14 times for 125 yards. While trying to drive for the tying touchdown on their final possession they were called for six penalties, though two were declined.
“It’s hard to win any game when you have 14 penalties,” Arkansas head coach Sam Pittman said. “We had too many missed assignments. You’re going to have some missed assignments in the game. I think we had more than what we should have, but it’s the penalties that are killing drives and keeping (opponents’) drives alive. We’ve got to figure out how to get the penalty situation (fixed).”
BYU sacked Jefferson four times.
“The offensive line just has to play more consistent,” Pittman said. “We probably need to move the pocket a little bit more. We can’t just stand back there.
“Right now it seems like everything that we’re doing offensively seems hard. It doesn’t seem like there’s anything that’s coming easy to us.”
Jefferson was injured and did not play in the Razorbacks’ 13-10 home loss against LSU last season.
Tigers star linebacker Harold Perkins Jr. emerged in that game, finishing with eight tackles, four sacks, two forced fumbles (the second of which clinched the victory), one pass break up and one quarterback hurry despite playing with the flu.