BY SCOTT RABALAIS
October 22, 2012
There is no logical reason why the LSU offensive line, this collection of spare parts and recycled remnants, was able to do what it did Saturday against South Carolina.
Against one of the best defensive lines in the country, populated by winged giants with names like Jadeveon Clowney and Devin Taylor, LSU’s offensive line caved in the Gamecocks’ front.
OK, a few more touchdowns than field goals would have been enjoyed by LSU, but the blocking was there. You really can’t pin any of LSU’s four field-goal attempts on the line not doing its job.
But who were these guys? Where did they come from? To call them rag-tag would be a slight to rags.
Maybe on the fifth come-out roll in seven games (the fifth different starting O-line combination), Greg Studrawa and Les Miles came up sevens instead of, ahem, craps. That’s what they threw a week earlier at Florida, when LSU had 42 net yards rushing, six anemic points and was 1-for-13 on third down.
An S.C. defense giving up less than 84 yards per game rushing allowed 258 to LSU. The Tigers also went 11-of-19 on third down, in large part because of the running game success, which was in large part because the offensive line was dynamiting such big, smoking holes in Steve Spurrier’s smirk.
But it shouldn’t have happened. Left tackle Chris Faulk is long gone with a knee injury. The other tackle, Alex Hurst, took a powder last week. No telling when, or if, he will return.
Right guard Josh Williford is still cobwebby after a concussion at Florida. Center P.J. Lonergan’s back keeps sending him text messages with the word “PAIN” in all caps.
The only man to stick and stay in the same spot in all seven games is left guard La’El Collins. Around him, doors have revolved so fast Usain Bolt could run through them.
Somehow, they saved their best for a most desperate hour. Collins said the South Carolina effort was the by-product of much soul searching. “It something we took personally as a unit,” Collins said. “We know up front is where the game is won. We took a moment to ourselves and really thought about how good we really want to be.”
Into the levee breaks, LSU plugged sixth-year senior Josh Dworaczyk at left tackle, though he’s really a guard, redshirt freshman Trai Turner at right guard, and true freshman Vadal Alexander at right tackle.
And it all worked. Splendidly. Even when Dworaczyk admitted he heard the wrong call and went the wrong way on a pass, Collins covered his teammate’s posterior and altered Clowney’s trajectory enough to keep Zach Mettenberger upright. Mettenberger is still a statue, but he got that pass away and was sacked only once.
LSU wants Hurst and Williford back and wishes Faulk still had two good wheels.
But perhaps, especially for Hurst, returning to starting roles isn’t guaranteed. And if Hurst left because he is unhappy about being shunted from right tackle to left, his stack of bargaining chips is shrinking.