All season long, the success of LSU’s offense has been directly proportional with its ability to run the ball well. When it has, such as in its dominant win against South Carolina, LSU backs have run wild on opposing defensive lines and given the offense a lot more flexibility with its playcalling. When it hasn’t, such as the thrashing Auburn gave Ed Orgeron’s team on Halloween, things have gotten ugly. Fast.
Things were ugly against Arkansas. The weather, the mistakes, and even some ugly officiating made for a gritty, unpleasant affair for LSU in Fayetteville. But a huge factor in making sure things weren’t as ugly as the Auburn game’s 48-11 blowout was the legs of Tyrion Davis-Price.
In a 27-24 comeback victory, Davis-Price ran for 104 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries making him LSU’s most efficient back by far. With relentless desire to push forward for yards, his interior runs gave TJ Finley and the Tiger offense much easier yardage chunks to convert for first downs and put together long, fruitful drives. The strong bull running back Orgeron has touted up showed his horns today.
“He was the guy who provided the spark,” Orgeron said. “The physicality that he was running the football with, especially lowering his pads and going forward and making the tough yards. He had a tremendous game.”
The Baton Rouge native averaged 4.3 yards per carry and continuously broke tackles and kept churning forward. The constant gain of field position helped LSU convert 12 of its 23 third down conversion attempts and gave the Tigers a whopping 41:43 minutes of possession.
“I think the biggest thing was time of possession,” Orgeron said. “41 minutes, we had the football. That allowed us to keep our defense fresh.”
“During the first quarter, I knew that we were going to have to run the ball a lot to get out there,” Davis-Price said. He saluted his offensive line for blocking for him and assured that this team has a lot left to prove.
“We knew what we could do. I feel like we haven’t really shown everything we could do, because we have a great offensive room. I just knew we were going to have to run the ball no matter who it was going to be, no matter when. We just had to get it done, and that’s what we did.”
Davis-Price also affected the game in more ways than with the ball in his hands. His physicality was evident in his pass blocking for Finley, particularly on his first touchdown pass to Racey McMath. Picking up Arkansas defensive back Myles Mason as he blitzed off the edge gave Finley the time he needed to hit the single-coverage, wide-open McMath in the endzone.
The Southern Lab graduate almost impacted the game even further with a beautiful over-the-shoulder touchdown catch on a wheel route that would have given LSU the lead. On a questionable call and an even more questionable review, the referees elected to uphold the call of incomplete pass. Shortly after, Finley connected with Jaray Jenkins to get the touchdown anyways, but Davis-Price thought he had scored.
“I thought it was a touchdown,” he said with a big smile. “But, I mean, we came out with the W. That’s all that really matters.”
The gritty performance by Davis-Price embodied the fire LSU has been looking for from its players. After the belly-up showing against Auburn, he showed the heart and strength of his team, and hopefully that energy can carry over into these closing games of the regular season.