Baton Rouge, La.—The LSU Tigers of old arose from the dead in Death Valley on Saturday.
LSU football played vintage LSU football against Florida, defeating the Gators 17-6. The Tigers dominated the battle in the trenches, averaging 4.5 yards per rush while only allowing 2.8.
LSU has won its games primarily through the arm of quarterback Zach Mettenberger so far this season. But the Tigers got back to what has won Les Miles 91 games through eight-plus years in Baton Rouge.
Beat 'em down, grown man, ground-and-pound tackle football.
The Tigers' win is not only the definition of old-school LSU football, but SEC football as well. Fans have witnessed air raids in every SEC game that featured Top 20 opponents this season.
The offensive line mauled the Gators in the fourth quarter behind Jeremy Hill and an improved offensive line. Miles, a former offensive lineman at Michigan, loves it that way.
"As quality of a defensive line and as well as they played, I gotta be real honest with you, I did not see much pressure in that backfield," said Miles.
The Florida defense came in to Saturday's game leading the conference in all statistical categories. While the Gators only gave up 17 points, it could not stop the Tigers from picking up chunks of yardage.
What Miles probably loves the most was the simplicity of the running plays. The Tigers out-executed the Gators up front, according to defensive end Damien Jacobs.
"They really didn't do anything special, they just played physical," said Jacobs.
LSU closed the game out emphatically by grinding down the Gators.
"We knew going into this game we would have to run the ball to be successful," said Hill. "We got the first downs we needed to ice the clock."
Florida head coach Will Muschamp was frustrated with his team's inability to stop Hill. The Gators held opponents to 62 yards rushing per game before Saturday. Hill and the LSU offense finished with 175.
"I think it starts with consistently being able to run it and stop the run. You have to try to make it a one-dimensional game," said Muschamp. "Our guys could not shed blocks."
Miles mentioned all five of his offensive linemen in the postgame, and deservedly so. Left tackle La'el Collins, left guard Vadal Alexander, center Elliott Porter, right guard Trai Turner and right tackle Gerald Hawkins played the best game together as a unit.
Turner said it helps having Hill running behind him.
"You do not want to see that guy (Hill) every play. Not only will he take a beating, you will take a beating too," said Turner.
The Tigers opened creases against the Florida 3-4 defense. LSU failed to do that against the three-man front of Georgia earlier this year, accumulating a season-low 77 yards rushing.
The Tigers still have to face Alabama, another 3-4 defense packed with NFL talent. The Crimson Tide defense has begun to hit its stride with stellar performances against Ole Miss and Kentucky.
Last season, Hill rushed for 107 yards and a touchdown against the Crimson Tide. LSU's chances exponentially increase in early November if it has a repeat performance from Hill.
Turner feels that the schematics of a defense does not matter if everybody does his job across the offensive line.
"As long as we win our one-on-one matchup in front of us, we're going to be successful," said Turner.
Turner said the communication along the offensive line was better partially because they were at home. Before LSU travels to Tuscaloosa to play Alabama, it must go to Oxford next week to play a talented Ole Miss front. The crowd will be raucous at both locations.
Expect continued success from the LSU running game no matter the opponent.
Miles says and does crazy things on and off the gridiron. But overall, he is a simple man.
LSU's victory against Florida was highlighted by basic running plays. And "The Mad Hatter" probably prefers it that way.