Hogs from Louisiana spiced for LSU; more notes

Hogs from Louisiana spiced for LSU; more notes

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FAYETTEVILLE - Arkansas’ Louisiana contingent, including its receiving coach, seem spiced like gumbo to play Saturday against Louisiana State University.

The LSU Tigers (5-3 overall and 3-2 SEC West) and the Razorbacks (6-3, 2-3) play this season’s final Reynolds Razorback Stadium game at 6 p.m. Saturday on ESPN.

Arkansas, with 10 players from Louisiana and receivers coach Michael Smith of Louisiana, have beaten the Tigers the past two years to keep The Boot, the trophy that goes to the game’s winner.

“It is different,” Smith said after Wednesday’s practice of the Louisiana players going against LSU. “Just like it is different for me. Being from down there you want to represent yourself as well as where you come from. It notches these guys up a little bit to play in front of people from home. The kids we have from Louisiana are as prideful as the ones down there at LSU. And for 365 days you get to either be on the great side of it or the bad side of it. It’s family and it’s bragging rights.”

Sophomore fullback Kendrick Jackson of Haynesville, La., comes into the LSU game with the momentum of his “best game by far,” running backs coach Reggie Mitchell said.

Mitchell bragged on Jackson’s pass-protection for quarterback Austin Allen and blocking for running backs Rawleigh Williams and Devwah Whaley in Arkansas’ 31-10 victory over Florida last week at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

“Kendrick did a great job,” Mitchell said. “I was really impressed with his physicality and just the way he played. He got after guys, cut guys, did a good job in protection. I was really pleased with him.”

Has Jackson talked much about playing LSU?

“Yeah, he's excited,” Mitchell said. “All the guys from Louisiana are to be able to play those guys. For him and all those guys they have a little bit more pep in their step this week.”

He’s from Dumas, not Louisiana, but third-year sophomore guard Johnny Gibson ought to have spice in his step off making his career start against Florida, a start he lobbied for when Arkansas coach Bret Bielema said he was reevaluating who starts on the line.

Arkansas offensive line coach Kurt Anderson lobbied for him after noting Gibson was “practicing like Gibby and not Gubby.”

“Johnny has been a tale of two guys,” Anderson said. “I kinda mess with him a little bit and say, 'Hey, who's gonna show up today? Is it gonna be Gibby or is it gonna be Gubby?' When Gibby shows up, Gibby can play with anybody in this conference. But he was wildly inconsistent.”

Anderson said he noticed a change.

“I saw a guy who started getting more consistent,” Anderson said. “He started spending more time coming in and getting office hours with me and asking questions. It was showing up in practice. So when it came down to the bye week, I was pleased to hear that Coach B kinda said, 'Hey, if anybody wants to play, you come see me.' There was one guy in my room who went to see him and it was Johnny Gibson. It  kinda coincided with the thought that I had my head, to give him an opportunity. He obviously prepared himself well, played a really good game.”

And at two positions since he moved from right guard to left guard after left guard Hjalte Froholdt exited with an injury.

Gibson’s in-game switch impressed senior Dan Skipper, playing alongside Gibson at left tackle.

“Johnny played awesome,” Skipper said Wednesday. “Having not played really at all, to go out there and strain and knock people around and be physical, that was great to see. Then having to switch to the other side after Hjalte went down, just the versatility he showed. He hadn't taken any reps at the left side in two weeks. Seeing that I think was inspiring all of us. He got the opportunity, and he took it and ran with it. That shows a bunch about the kid's character.”

Gibson is back at right guard with Froholdt practicing again.

A senior starting since his freshman year, Skipper was asked about playing his final Fayetteville game.

“I don't know how I'm going to act,” Skipper said. “I think it'll be cool. Obviously the last one here at home. I've played a lot of games here and I know how much it'll mean to all of us as seniors to go out on a good one.”

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