Austin Deculus has seen the highest of highs and lowest of lows on the LSU football team. He was a part of that 2017 team that experienced gut wrenching losses to the likes of Troy, Mississippi State and Notre Dame to close the season.
He was a part of the two-year revival that saw LSU achieve heights few other programs have from an offensive perspective, capped off by the national championship in 2019. And he was a part of the subsequent gutting of the program, with both players and coaches leaving for the NFL and other opportunities that led to an uneven 5-5 season a year ago.
Needless to say, Deculus has wisdom to impart on this 2021 group as it looks to take that next step back to relevancy. As a starter on the offensive line throughout most of the last four years, Deculus has also been a part of a maligned and celebrated group at various points throughout his career.
Deculus looks back at the 2018 season as a rallying point for the offensive line and while there have been struggles at times, he believes the culture around the entire position group flipped and has been a big point of emphasis this offseason. It's a message that helped secure most of the starting offensive line from 2020 to return for one more run.
"With the offensive line group, we really like just came together, and you look back, you look at 2018, you look at the season that the offensive line had, people were saying similar things to us this past 2020 season," Deculus said. "I kind of like told those guys, like look what happened whenever we all came back, 2019 season, Joe Moore Award, all that. I just sprinkled that insight on them, and we just took that on the ground running.
"We didn't have the best season that we had in the past, but having everybody come back from all aspects, from the offensive line to the running backs, it's going to build on the depth, build on the experience of the group, and you're going to see something different."
At the peak of LSU's success during Deculus' tenure with the program, the Tigers were extremely well balanced in the run and passing attacks, with the offensive line being praised over the improvements in opening holes for the likes of Clyde Edwards-Helaire and keeping Joe Burrow upright.
Deculus sees the similarities in style with the Jake Peetz led offense to the one Joe Brady introduced to the Tigers back in 2019. Having that chemistry up front is a major component to seeing this offense return to form and Deculus knows it better than anyone.
"When you compare both offenses from that 2019 season to the one Peetz is bringing, you have both -- both of those offenses are just highlight reel offenses," Deculus said. "You've got dangerous running backs, dangerous receivers, two dangerous quarterbacks, whoever it's going to be. But the thing is about both of those offenses that are similar is giving playmakers plays to make plays in space."
One of the big changes that's occurred in recent weeks is the addition of Brad Davis to the group as offensive line coach. Davis is well respected in SEC circles and has a great rapport of being able to develop talent, which is a quality LSU desperately needs along its offensive line.
Though he's only spent a few weeks getting to know Davis, Deculus is excited about the opportunity to further grow his game and help lead the Tigers back to a respectable position in the SEC West for the 2021 season.
"Coach Davis is a very stern coach. He's going to put that foot down. He's a Louisiana native. Many people might not know that," Deculus said. "He's going to be a great asset for us. It's always tough seeing a coach leave, but at the end of the day, one door closes and another door opens. Just being able to see and grow your game off a whole different mindset of a coach can really be beneficial for a room, and I think that's going to be so."