BATON ROUGE, La. — LSU running back Derrius Guice may not have said it best, but he certainly said it most colorfully.
“They’re tired of hearing they’re poo,” Guice said of his offensive linemen following an overpowering 38-10 win at Arkansas.
Indeed, the Tiger offensive line had taken a lot of crap for its performance against Alabama the previous week.
LSU rushed for a measly 33 yards on 27 carries against the Crimson Tide. In that game Leonard Fournette was met in the backfield or at the line of scrimmage on 10 of his 17 carries.
Against Arkansas, Fournette was met at or behind the line by tacklers just four times in 17 carries. He and Derrius Guice combined for 350 yards on 38 carries against the Razorbacks.
“When your run game gets shut down like Alabama did against us, you can’t get into a groove,” said center Ethan Pocic. “We were just trying to start fast.”
It was impossible for the Tiger linemen to avoid hearing the criticism from all corners after the Alabama game, even if the terminology wasn’t exactly as described by Guice.
“I don’t think we were really called poo,” said left tackle K.J. Malone. “But that’s just Derrius. Derrius is a crazy guy.”
Malone said the motivation to play better against Arkansas came from inside the locker room.
“We take the role of being the big brothers of the offense. If we have a great game, everyone else will follow,” Malone said. “I think we just had motivation after that Alabama game. We felt like we didn’t contribute in our role as big brother. We wanted to show everyone they could follow us.”
Pocic takes exception to the idea that most critics of offensive line play even know what they are looking at.
“No offense, but media doesn’t know anything about offensive line play. It just is what it is,” Pocic said. “If someone of importance like a coach were to tell me that, I’d definitely take it in and make my changes. But y’all could say I could have a good game or bad game and y’all don’t really know. You just see the running backs.”
Pocic made it clear that he wasn’t trying to pick on the media, not that anyone in the LSU football press corps is capable of standing up to the 6-foot-7, 309-pounder if he had been. He thinks it can’t be broken down by the casual observer as easily as other positions on the field.
“I thought I knew O-line play before I got into college,” Pocic said. “I didn’t.”
While LSU’s rebound against Arkansas was nice, it also does not mean total redemption for the front five. Multiple 300-pound quintets have dominated the Razorback defense this season. Arkansas ranks 103rd in the country against the run and allow an average of 218 yards per game on the ground.
The real prove-it game comes this week against Florida. The Gators rank 12th in the nation against the run, allowing 111.7 yards per contest.
“They fly to the ball,” Pocic said. “A really upfield D-Line. They try to get upfield and make plays, and they do. A very good front.”
Coach Ed Orgeron echoed the same respect for the Gators on “Tell the Truth” Monday.
“Their speed on the edge, their attack, (they’re) very well-versed on the defensive line,” Orgeron said. “A lot of stunts that come after you. They pressure the quarterback, and they have a lot of speed.”
To echo Guice, in a week’s time the LSU offensive line went from the outhouse to the penthouse in the public’s eye. With a dominating performance against a high-caliber defensive front, they can prove that’s where they’ve belonged the whole time.