Did LSU's Jeremy Hill Play His Way Back into Good Graces with Les Miles ?

Carter BryantContributor ISeptember 22, 2013

The Auburn defenders rarely tackled Jeremy Hill on first contact.
The Auburn defenders rarely tackled Jeremy Hill on first contact.Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Spor

In the battle of the Tigers, Jeremy Hill proved king of the jungle. 

LSU defeated Auburn 35-21 for its first conference victory of the season. The Bayou Bengals were led by Hill, who rushed for 183 yards and three touchdowns on 25 carries. This marks a career high in yards and carries for Hill in a single game. The three rushing touchdowns ties his previous high against Ole Miss.

The hot passing attack for LSU was cooled down by the rain and sloppy weather. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger was not his sharpest despite throwing for 229 yards. The defense looked exhausted, giving up a season-high 437 yards to Auburn. Half of the crowd at Death Valley left at halftime.

But explosive offensive plays usually translate to victories. Hill's uncanny ability to break open runs gives LSU a massive advantage in its rushing attack.

For the second straight week, Hill started at running back and broke a long touchdown run on LSU's opening drive. Last week, he ran for a 58-yard scamper against Kent State. This week, he juked past a few defensive backs for a 49-yard touchdown run.

Hill would later have a 54-yard rush deep into Auburn territory, which set up an eventual J.C. Copeland touchdown. If Hill were to score, it would have been his fifth rushing touchdown for LSU over 50 yards in his career.

Auburn did not play a bad game. It moved the ball on offense. The defense frustrated Mettenberger, forcing his first interception of the season. The game would have been closer if not for Hill's backbreaking runs.

Miles has had his fair share of off-the-field drama in 2013.
Miles has had his fair share of off-the-field drama in 2013.Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Spor

Basic running plays are usually designed for safeties to go unblocked at the third level of the defense. It is the rusher's job to break tackles for more yardage. The LSU offensive line opened them, and Hill broke them wide open with his strength and agility.

Les Miles said last week Hill was not as his best despite running for 117 yards on 11 carries against Kent State. Hill agreed, saying he missed a few cuts.

Hill was near immaculate against Auburn. 

Miles has received criticism for keeping Hill on the team after his poor offseason behavior. Miles' reputation took a hit, but he knew he needed his best running back to win in the SEC.

Hill was immediately reinstated to the team thanks to a favorable ruling in court. 

Hill's dominance against an SEC defense should be no surprise. He rushed for over 100 yards against South Carolina, Texas A&M and Alabama last season.

LSU's backup running backs have done a fine job replacing Hill. But Terrence Magee, Alfred Blue and Kenny Hilliard cannot do what Hill can do with the football in his hands. The offense missed his spark when Miles benched him for the season opener against TCU. 

Elite production can usually work anybody back into the starting lineup. Miles believes Hill has learned his lesson and has paid his dues. 

No matter a person's moral standards, Hill exponentially increases LSU's chance to win games. Miles knows this and will continue to pound his workhorse. 

The Bayou Bengals have a stable of running backs, but Hill is LSU's prized thoroughbred.

The Tigers travel to Athens to play Georgia next week. Mettenberger playing against a school he was dismissed from will dominate the headlines. Aaron Murray and the LSU gunslinger were in a quarterback battle at the time.

But the main event will be Hill facing off against Todd Gurley in a heavyweight bout between two of college football's best running backs. Apologies to the defenses ahead of time.