BATON ROUGE, La. — One of the most significant battles of the LSU-Mississippi State game on Saturday will be Bulldogs sophomore defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons against the Tigers’ young interior offensive linemen. And in order to prepare for Simmons, the LSU line is drawing from one of the most significant battles in world history.
Junior left guard Garrett Brumfield said that one of offensive line coach Jeff Grimes’ go-to tactics in mental preparation is to quote from the book Gates of Fire, which is about the Greco-Persian War of 480 B.C.
“It’s a book that tells the tale of the Battle of Thermopylae,” noted the scholarly Brumfield. “It’s about the 300 Spartans who were fighting the Persians. It says — and I’m paraphrasing — ‘Yadda, yadda, yadda.’ A bunch of Greek words. But the message is we are going to keep our opponents nameless and faceless.”
Themopylae was most famously depicted in the modern era by the movie 300.
“That’s nothing to [disprespect] anyone that we are playing. But we’re focused on us, not any one person or team,” Brumfield said. “All of our opponents are nameless and faceless.”
So from the perspective of Brumfield, center Will Clapp and freshman guards Ed Ingram and Saahdiq Charles, Simmons is just plain old No. 94.
For coach Ed Orgeron, though, Simmons’ face and name will be keeping him up at night all week. When he was LSU’s defensive line coach in 2015, Orgeron was very active in trying to recruit the Macon, Miss., native into jumping the border to join the Tigers.
“I wanted to get him. He was one of my No. 1 guys on the board,” Orgeron said. “He’s a difference-maker, a [future] first-round draft choice, and coached very well.”
Simmons has been a one-man wrecking crew in Mississippi State’s first two games of the season. He has 10 tackles, a sack, a fumble recovery, a blocked PAT and a blocked punt.
He even has a pair of touchdowns, both coming in a 57-21 win last week at Louisiana Tech. The big man recovered his punt block in the end zone for one score, then showed impressive speed and stamina for a 301-pounder by taking his fumble recovery 90 yards for another.
“We’ve got to know where he’s at at all times,” Orgeron said. “Double-team him. Protect. He’s going to be a challenge for our guys.”
Luckily, the LSU offensive line believes it has a game plan for doing so. It just happens to be one that’s 2,500 years old.