If you had told any LSU fan a couple weeks ago that Tyrion Davis-Price was going to break the single-game rushing record, they would have thought you were messing with them, and that reaction would have been justified.
LSU was one of the worst rushing teams in the country throughout the first five weeks of the season, but on Saturday LSU accomplished what any team that’s looking to overcome adversity or bounce back would want to do: they adapted.
Two weeks removed from one of the worst rushing performances by the Tigers in recent history, LSU realized that something needed to change. Auburn noticed LSU’s primary weakness and exploited it, resulting in a heartbreaking loss for LSU.
Had the Purple and Gold used a more balanced attack then, it is likely that they would have won. The coaching staff seems to have recognized that, as they changed up their play-calling immediately.
That just so happened to correspond perfectly with a resurgence by the offensive line.
In the previous five weeks, Davis-Price could not get down the field and averaged about two yards per carry. It was clear then (and is even more clear now) that the poor output was not his fault, as his up-the-field, bruiser play style relies heavily on the effectiveness of the offensive line. His side of the offense received a lot of criticism to start the season and his response was just to focus and continue to work hard.
“I just took it one day at a time and worked my tail off each and every day,” Davis-Price said. “That’s all I could do, just do the best for my team.”
We have now witnessed what happens when this offensive line plays to its offense’s strengths, and the results have been exciting. Over the past two games, Tyrion Davis-Price has rushed for 434 yards on 58 carries (7.48 yards per carry) and five touchdowns.
The craziest part is that two-thirds of that came from the win against Florida, as Davis-Price had the best rushing performance by an LSU Tiger ever, rushing for three more yards than Leonard Fournette’s 284 against Ole Miss in 2016. The junior running back has looked unstoppable in previous weeks, reminiscent of when Fournette was in his prime with the program.
When asked about his record-breaking performance, Davis-Price gave the credit to his offensive line: “Coach Peetz and the coaching staff challenged us to go in and create a running game, and the o-line, they’ve been coming with it every day at practice just busting their tails and doing extra work. I can’t be more proud of them and I just can’t wait to do something for them.”
On one drive in the third, Davis-Price ran the ball eight times for 70 yards, finishing the drive off with a 25-yard touchdown run on a stretch to the right, in part to an amazing pull block by Ed Ingram and other great blocks down field. That came on top of a 40-yard touchdown rush earlier in the quarter, which went straight through the teeth of the defense.
The holes were plentiful throughout the entire game, and that is something that LSU fans everywhere have been asking for all season.
LSU’s recent effectiveness in the run game will come in handy next weekend, as the Tigers will look to keep the ball out of Ole Miss’ hands as much as possible against a Rebel defense that has given up almost 200 rushing yards per game this season. If Davis-Price has a few more performances like the one he had today and against Kentucky last week, we could see him among the nation’s best for the Heisman come January.