Four Downs: Hurd Eager For His 'National Championship' Against LSU


1. Hurd’s Title Game — Arkansas tackle David Hurd won’t get to go to a bowl game his senior season.

But Hurd believes he’s get the next best thing this afternoon, closing out his Arkansas career in his home state against LSU.

“For most of us, this is our bowl game,” Hurd said. “But to me, this is my national championship right here. I’m going to put everything I’ve got into it.”

Hurd — who is from West Monroe — is wrapping up his second season as Arkansas’ left tackle, logging 24 starts over that span. He walked on at Arkansas for the 2009 season, working three years before finally being put on scholarship.

Arkansas offensive coordinator Jim Chaney said Hurd has been valuable for the Razorbacks. He’s part of a line that has allowed seven sacks, which is the nation’s second-lowest total this season.

“He seldom puts his body in position where he can not be successful,” Chaney said. “And to be a good offensive tackle, that’s the first thing you’ve got to learn is body positioning. He’s done that. He’s done a nice job with it. I’m real happy. I think he’s played pretty solid football for us throughout the season.”

Hurd didn’t get much attention from LSU while in high school and plans to make sure he does everything he can to “make sure we win” in his final game.

“We’re all going to go out there and bust our butts,” Hurd said. “This is everyone’s last game this year, and it’s the seniors’ last guaranteed game that we all have because you never know what’s going to happen after this. So we’re going to embrace it and go out there in a hostile environment and hopefully get a win.”

2. Dangerous Duo — Arkansas’ secondary — which has struggled most of the season — will have its hands full with LSU’s Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr., today. The duo has combined to catch 123 passes for 2,160 yards and 18 touchdowns this season.

“Both of them are real good players and they’re kind of the opposite of each other,” Arkansas safety Alan Turner said. “They fit really well.”

Arkansas defensive coordinator Chris Ash said LSU’s passing threat makes the Tigers difficult to defend. LSU already has a strong running game led by Jeremy Hill, who has rushed for 1,040 yards and 13 touchdowns this season.

“When you’ve got to worry about the wide receivers on the outside or the quarterback that can throw it, it’s an extreme challenge,” Ash said. “You’ve got to pick you poison. Do you load the box to stop the run and put your DBs in a sticky situation? Or do you play coverage and hope that you can stop the run with seven?

“You’ve got a challenge to decide which direction you want to go.”

3. Transfer QBs — LSU’s Zach Mettenberger will be the third straight quarterback on Arkansas’ schedule that spent at least one season at a junior college.

Mettenberger began his career at Georgia before being dismissed by coach Mark Richt. He attended Butler (Kan.) Community College for one season before heading to LSU, where he has thrown for 5,627 yards with 35 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in two seasons as a starter.

Ole Miss’ Bo Wallace (East Mississippi Community College) and Auburn’s Nick Marshall (Garden City Community College) also spent time a season in junior college after beginning their careers elsewhere (Arkansas State and Georgia, respectively).

Arkansas coach Bret Bielema took notice of the transfers earlier this week.

“That’s the part that is intriguing to me because there are a number of kids that have been out there that have either been removed from a SEC program or found their way out of it and would love to get back into it,” Bielema said. “That’s the part that is probably more intriguing to me than anything.”

4. Death Valley — LSU is 32-2 at home since the 2009 season with its only losses coming against two top-ranked teams in Florida (2009) and Alabama (2012). The Tigers also have won 37 straight games against unranked opponents in Baton Rouge.

But fullback Keiro Small laughed when asked if the Razorbacks would be intimidated by Death Valley today.

“Come on man, you know me,” Small said. “I mean, as a team, no, I don’t think so.”

Small said Arkansas will be taking a lot of young players into the Tiger Stadium for the first time, but the Razorbacks have played at places like Alabama and Florida.

“We’ve got a young team and sometimes that’s not a great thing,” Small said. “But a young team also isn’t really intimidated. They’re just happy to be in a situation. So go down there, execute our game plan and try to get a win for Arkansas.”

— Robbie Neiswanger • Arkansas News Bureau