Junior running back Tyrion Davis-Price saw the gap open up behind his left guard, senior Ed Ingram — and with the wind to his back, Davis-Price trotted freely for an 18-yard touchdown run.
He had 52 yards on LSU’s 90-yard drive as the Tigers took a one-point second-quarter lead over No. 20 Florida.
Over and over, that was the central theme to LSU's 49-42 upset victory over the Gators on Saturday in Tiger Stadium.
"I was just amazed at how good the offensive line was," Davis-Price said. "You could see those were big holes that I ran through."
In the first half alone, Davis-Price had 94 yards on 15 carries. This came after five weeks mediocrity, LSU having produced one of the worst rushing offenses in the nation.
Davis-Price finished the game with his name in LSU record book, rushing for a single-game record of 287 yards on 36 carries, including three touchdowns. (The old record, once held by Derrius Guice, who 285 against Texas A&M in 2016, had been removed by LSU.) Leonard Fournette had 284 yards against Ole Miss that same year.
Davis-Price also broke Herschel Walker's record for most yards rushing allowed by the Gators in a single game. Walker had 238 in 1980.
It was part of the game plan. Davis-Price said offensive coordinator Jake Peetz came up to him at practice Wednesday, saying he needed the offense to lean on Davis-Price this week.
“I said, ‘No problem,’ ” Davis-Price said. “I told him to feed me.”
That need was a result of the void left by star wide receiver Kayshon Boutte, as well as increased confidence in the offensive line after LSU's improved rushing performance last week against Kentucky.
For much of this season, injuries hampered LSU’s cohesion on the line, weakening its ground game, which averaged a little more than 70 yards per game.
“Even as we were struggling, we always believed in ourselves on the offensive line,” senior center Liam Shanahan said.
The Tigers amassed 147 yards rushing at Kentucky, then followed with 321 yards rushing Saturday.
Against Florida — which had the No. 26 rushing defense in the nation — the Tigers closed out a 49-42 victory on the strength of its run game.
It didn't look good at first: sophomore left tackle Anthony Bradford went down on the first play, a position that started different players through the first four games. Junior Cameron Wire came in to replace him, and Bradford returned the following series. The two split drives for the rest of the game.
In addition, the blocking strategy changed.
"With Kayshon Boutte getting hurt, we moved Garrett Dellinger to tight end and we had a jumbo package, we call it 12 Jumbo," LSU coach Ed Orgeron said. "We got more physical during the game, and it helped our run game out. That was something we had never done before this season. I told our offensive line that they were the most improved group of the whole team."
Like last week, the counter-gap plays also worked to Davis-Price's advantage, paving way for his biggest runs.
"Mr. Jack Marucci, he had a lot to do with that also," Davis-Price said, referring to LSU's director of performance innovation.
"He went up to the coaches, showing them a few of our formations and showing them what runs would be best for certain people and creating better blocking schemes for the offensive line and it worked. As you can see, it worked."
With the score tied at 35, Davis-Price carried much of the final drive in the third quarter, traveling 41 of the offense’s 46 yards. He opened the fourth quarter by gave the Tigers the lead on the very same running play that put them ahead in the first quarter.
But even with a strengthened offensive line, Davis-Price shined because of his patience in reading blocks and his ability to fight through tackles to extend plays.
"He runs the ball hard. It makes our job a little easier to have a guy like that back there," Shanahan said. "It started last week in the holes when we started to play a little better as an O-line and let him get some of the recognition he deserves."
After Florida tied it at 42, Davis-Price once again led the offense down field until the very end. He was stopped just short of his third touchdown, but sophomore quarterback Max Johnson found Jaray Jenkins to give the Tigers the game-winning score, 49-42.
Aside from the pass to Jenkins, Johnson didn't throw the ball in the fourth quarter, enabling the Tigers to drain the clock.
"The reason why I didn't throw the ball the whole fourth quarter was because our O-line was dominating," Johnson said. "Shoutout to those guys; shoutout to Ty; shoutout to the coaches for calling the run plays. Just goes to speak for how hard some of the guys, O-line and the backs have been working."
Davis-Price ran out the clock after linebacker Damone Clark sealed the victory with a late interception. Needing 8 yards to set the record, Davis-Price gained 10 on his final carry of the day.
Going into Saturday, Davis-Price had 288 yards rushing through six games. Against the Gators, he nearly doubled his season total.
"Defending the game — that's all that was on my mind at the time," Davis-Price said. "I did not know how many yards I had until after the game."