Ethan Pocic didn’t know it at the time, but he was hurdled during LSU’s 38-10 win Saturday night at Arkansas, and it produced historic results.

Running back Derrius Guice leaped over the 6-foot-7, 300-pound center en route to his 96-yard touchdown run — the longest play from scrimmage in school history. There was Pocic, lying on the ground, a yard behind the line of scrimmage, a defender pinned beneath him. Guice soared over the top, a high-stepping hurdle that resulted in a stunning scoring jaunt.

“It’s cool to block for that,” Pocic said Monday. “I got a piece in that.”

He got a big piece: Pocic flattened Arkansas defensive lineman Taiwan Johnson with what linemen like to call a pancake block.

That block, the play and the result were indicative of LSU’s offensive line play against the Razorbacks. A week after the offense limped to a 10-0 loss to top-ranked Alabama, it buried the Hogs, creating massive holes and mowing down the defensive front for 390 yards rushing.

That wasn't a coincidence.

“We had a lot of motivation, just because we thought we needed to prove something,” left tackle K.J. Malone said. “After Alabama, we felt like we took a step back. Our motivation the whole week was to show the world that we can be the best offensive line and block for great running backs.”

The next challenge is much stiffer. No. 21 Florida has one of the nation’s best defensive fronts. The Gators rank 12th nationally, allowing just 111.3 yards on the ground per game. In the Southeastern Conference, only Alabama is better at stopping the run.

Adding to all of this is what the Gators (7-2, 5-2) are playing for: the SEC East championship and a spot in the conference title game. Potentially on the line for the Tigers (6-3, 4-2): a Sugar Bowl bid.

“They’re a great run defense,” Malone said. “If we come out how we do against Arkansas, we can do good things.”


LSU running back Derrius Guice (5) vsults over Arkansas defensive back Jared Collins (29) during the second half of the LSU-Arkansas football game Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016, at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

Leonard Fournette and Guice ran for 350 yards, rolling up a large chunk of them before being touched by the defense. No statistic illustrates an offensive line’s execution like that one.

On 19 of their combined 38 carries, Fournette and Guice moved 3 or more yards past the line of scrimmage before being contacted by an Arkansas defender. Against Alabama, that number was one time in 19 carries.

Guice wasn’t contacted until he was 90 yards downfield during his 96-yard run. Fournette was hit in the backfield or at the line of scrimmage on just four of his 17 carries — as opposed to 10 times against Bama.

Guice said after the game that the line was “tired of hearing that they’re poo and that they can’t block.”

“Hearing everybody talk, they were calling us out — saying we weren’t tough, not physical,” guard Josh Boutte said. “We wanted to prove to everybody that we were. Seeing at practice, we know what we do, know how strong we are in the weight room. I feel like the Alabama game didn’t really reflect on that. All our starting five had something to prove going into the game.”

Whether the group can do it against elite defenses is still up for debate. The offense gets a shot against a banged-up group of Florida defenders. The Gators will be missing their top three tacklers — linebackers Jarrad Davis and Alex Anzalone and defensive back Marcus Maye — and defensive lineman Bryan Cox.

LSU’s offensive line has its own health issues: Malone said Monday that guard Will Clapp has been playing with a “torn shoulder.”

“We were all in here getting treatment yesterday,” Malone said.

That might be a reason why the Tigers rotated tackles against Arkansas. Through the first three and a half quarters, Maea Teuhema played three series each at right and left tackle. Toby Weathersby played seven series at right tackle and sat for at least three series, and Malone played seven series at left tackle, sitting three series.

“I really didn’t notice until we watched the film,” quarterback Danny Etling said. “I was watching film like, ‘Is that Toby?’ All the sudden they started switching tackles all the time.”

“It’s one of those things. … Toby is healthy now,” Pocic said. “All three are playing good. Might as well get them going. Everyone has little injuries here and there. If they need a break, it could help.”


Florida’s defensive front is most like Auburn's, Pocic said — more of an attacking group of players who have an “upfield” style of play.

“Some teams sit back and play their gaps more,” he said. “These guys are trying to get upfield and make plays.”

It’s Pocic’s job to prevent that — just like he did during Guice's history-making run.

“It was cool, definitely,” he said. “I was more excited that he scored. Killed the drive right there when you score.”

Everybody likes a break.

“It’s the best,” Pocic said, smiling.

First contact

Alabama's first contact on Leonard Fournette on Nov. 5:

  • Behind the line of scrimmage: 3 times
  • At the line: 7 times
  • 1 yard: 3 times
  • 2 yards: 3 times
  • 3 or more: 1 time

Arkansas' first contact on Fournette on Saturday:

  • Behind the line of scrimmage: 3 times
  • At the line: 1 time
  • 1 yard: 2 times
  • 2 yards: 1 time
  • 3 yards or more: 10 times

Arkansas' first contact on Derrius Guice on Saturday:

  • Behind the line of scrimmage: 5 times
  • At the line: 2 times
  • 1 yard: 3 times
  • 2 yards: 2 times
  • 3 yards or more: 9 times

Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter, @RossDellenger.