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LSU Offensive Line Feels it's Turned a Corner in 2021 Season

Tigers finally getting healthy, finding right continuity and schemes to be successful

For weeks on end Liam Shanahan has felt that this offensive line was starting to turn a corner on its 2021 season. There was a glimpse of improvement against Kentucky, as the offensive line opened up holes for Tyrion Davis-Price for seemingly the first time all season.

The pass protection was sound and it certainly looked as though the group was trending in the right direction. On Saturday against Florida, the group responded by putting forth its best blocking effort in probably two years as the purple and gold rushed for 323 yards, 287 of which were a program record from Davis-Price. 

A group that was much maligned all season for its inconsistent and sometimes down right poor play, it was a momentum and confidence boosting performance for Shanahan and this offensive line.

"We've all felt that we were right there and having a game like we did this past weekend," Shanahan said. "It felt good, there was a lot of fun stuff to watch on film that a lot of guys were doing but now it's the 24 hour rule and we're on to Ole Miss."

What really worked for this group was getting out on zone blocking schemes and prioritizing run blocking schemes. LSU found a lot of success with counters, a misdirection run where a running back starts one direction but moves with the blocking to the other side of the line of scrimmage.

For the Tigers on Saturday, that meant pulling some of the offensive lineman from the left side to the right as that was where LSU found the most success in opening up holes for Davis-Price. Not only Shanahan but guards Marlon Martinez and Ed Ingram, tackle Austin Deculus and walk on tight end Jack Mashburn all had success with a six man run blocking front against the Gators. 

Shanahan mentioned a dedication to a wider variety of schemes and players getting more comfortable with what's being asked of them has been the biggest differences he's noticed in recent weeks.

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Coach Ed Orgeron said he really started to see a difference in the offensive line's play in the week of practice leading up to the Kentucky game. The group was finally starting to get healthy and finding some continuity up front that was so crucial to its most recent success.

But what really stood out to Orgeron was the way it was dominating LSU's defensive line at the line of scrimmage, something that had not occurred all season long during practice.

"I spent a bunch of time last week showing cut ups of our offensive line dominate our defensive line," Orgeron said Wednesday. "I think Brad Davis has done a tremendous job with this line, they're the most improved unit on the team."

This group had the unfortunate timing of having to replace its offensive line coach with Davis into the summer, a move that was swift but didn't come without penalty. Davis, who came to Baton Rouge from Arkansas, was known as one of the better developers and recruiters along the o-line in college football but it took some time gel with his new players.

"I think going back through camp, our relationship as an offensive line with coach Davis has really evolved to the point where we're doing some really good things now," Shanahan said. "Coach Davis is a great coach, we're lucky to have him with us and now we have to keep pushing forward. We don't wanna be an offensive line that's known for one good game. We've got a lot of big games coming up."

With some confidence and momentum brewing up front, there is opportunity for this LSU offense to reach new heights. The emergence of a potent running attack was a significant step, now it's up to Max Johnson and the passing offense to find some consistency in its play.

"The talent has always been there, the ability from us as players is there," Shanahan said. "It's just something where we have to continue to build and hopefully we can establish an identity as an offensive line and offense."