Five takeaways from LSU’s win over Arkansas

Coming off its win over Alabama, there were questions about how LSU would show up this week.

It was a slow start for the offense, but thanks to a dominant defense and a steady rushing attack, LSU was able to squeak by in Arkansas and keep its playoff hopes alive.

“We found a way to win on the road when we didn’t have our ‘A’ game,” coach Brian Kelly told ESPN in his postgame interview.

In that same interview, Kelly complimented defensive coordinator Matt House for finding a way to use Harold Perkins, who tied a single-game LSU record with four sacks.

Here are five takeaways from LSU’s 13-10 win over Arkansas.

The return of the slow start

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LSU’s first-half harkened back to what we saw from LSU in September and much of October.

The first drive was cut short when [autotag]Jayden Daniels[/autotag] was picked off looking for [autotag]Malik Nabers[/autotag] on a slant. LSU turned it over again on the third drive, fumbling after Arkansas blew up the mesh point on a read option.

Daniels was unable to get in sync with his receivers and despite being well-protected, took a few sacks.

On LSU’s fourth drive, Kelly sent the offense out on 4th and one from LSU’s own 24, but a [autotag]Mason Taylor[/autotag] false start forced a punt. On the punt, it looked like LSU punter [autotag]Jay Bramblett[/autotag] picked up a first down, but a holding call took it away.

LSU finally got some good field position after [autotag]Harold Perkins[/autotag] chased down Malik Hornsby, forcing a fumble. But even that drive stalled after another sack forced LSU to attempt a field goal. [autotag]Damian Ramos[/autotag] made it from 38-yards out to tie it at three.

LSU would go the whole half without finding the endzone.

The defense delivers

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With K.J. Jefferson out, the job got a little easier for the LSU defense. Nevertheless, it was an impressive performance.

LSU’s offense struggled all day, putting all of the pressure on the defense and handing the unit some bad field position. House’s group responded, holding time and time again.

Arkansas didn’t find the endzone in the first half and was held to just three points over the first 30 minutes. Arkansas found itself in a prime position to score again after recovering a fumble deep in LSU territory, but the LSU defense forced a turnover on downs.

LSU would go on to allow a touchdown in the second half, but those would be the only other points Arkansas scored all day.

LSU was applying constant pressure in the passing game. In the run game, LSU tackled well and consistently stormed to the ball. The defense struggled at points earlier in the year, but there aren’t many questions remaining at this point. This is a solid, solid group.

Harold Perkins emerging on a national level

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Perkins emerging as a star isn’t a recent development. He made plays in big moments against Ole Miss and Alabama, but now it feels like he’s really starting to get it — and the country is taking notice.

He made the play of the game for LSU on defense with Arkansas driving late, threatening to tie or take the lead. Coming off the edge, he got to Cade Fortin, forcing his second fumble of the game. LSU recovered and put the game on ice.

He tied an LSU single-game record with four sacks. He’s no longer just good for a true freshman, he’s one of the best defenders in the country. Few guys have the ability to do what he does.

His size with that closing speed is ridiculous and it’s elevated the defense on multiple levels. Perkins presence allows the rest of the defense to just go out there and play.

House can get creative with his playbook because he knows Perkins can cover so much space and limit a quarterback in the run game.

The expectations for Perkins were high, but he has managed to exceed them. You’d be hard-pressed to find a true freshman on defense making the same type of impact that Perkins is.

The run game stepped up

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LSU was never able to establish its passing attack — a surprise considering LSU’s recent success through the air and Arkansas’ inconsistent secondary.

Daniels was just 8/15 for 86 yards. The receivers struggled to get separation and the only big play came when Daniels found [autotag]Kayshon Boutte[/autotag] to set up a [autotag]Josh Williams[/autotag] touchdown on the ensuing drive.

LSU was forced to rely on Williams and that run game. We didn’t see much of [autotag]Armoni Goodwin[/autotag], who has yet to fully work his way back into the rotation after missing time with an injury. [autotag]John Emery Jr.[/autotag] got banged up in this one too, putting the load on Williams and [autotag]Noah Cain[/autotag].

Williams went for 122 yards on 19 carries and Cain had five for 25. Before Emery’s injury, he had three carries for 40 yards.

Subtracting his sack yardage, Daniels added 51 yards. It was another good game for a rushing attack that has been steadily improving.

LSU's playoff hopes remain alive

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We don’t need to get in to how this game could affect LSU in the rankings on Tuesday night and whether it could drop the Tigers a spot or two, because frankly, it doesn’t matter.

With this win, LSU still controls its own destiny in the SEC and for the playoff.

A loss wouldn’t have killed LSU’s chances in the west, but it would have removed the Tigers from the playoff discussion. At 8-2, the task remains the same. Win out and LSU will likely find itself making the cut when the final four are released.

Story originally appeared on LSU Tigers Wire