By Mike Gegenheimer | LSU Reveille
It all started with a threat.
For LSU's offensive line, inspiration didn't come from a "backs against the wall" mentality, freshman running back Jeremy Hill's big runs or even the deafening energy projected from the seats of Tiger Stadium.
Inspiration came from an unidentified South Carolina defensive player telling LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger during pregame warm-ups that he would make sure Mettenberger didn't finish the game.
It's safe to say senior left tackle Josh Dworaczyk and the rest of Mettenberger's protectors didn't take kindly to their opponent's promise.
"When that comes into this locker room, I'm getting fired up just thinking about it because Zach is one of my best friends," Dworaczyk said. "When you hear that, it elevates your game that much more. Your job is to always keep the quarterback clean, but when that threat comes out there, you step up and protect your quarterback with everything you've got."
From that point on, Dworaczyk said everyone had an understanding that their quarterback wouldn't be touched.
The Tiger O-line kept its word, effectively shutting down one of the nation's most productive defensive lines.
The Gamecock defense led the Southeastern Conference with 25 sacks through the first six games of the season.
On Saturday night, they were held to South Carolina senior linebacker Shaq Wilson's lone third-quarter sack and never recorded so much as a single quarterback hurry.
That statistic was made even more impressive considering the fact that sophomore left guard La'el Collins and senior center P.J. Lonergan were the only two remaining first week offensive line starters to begin the game Saturday night.
"I thought the old man out there at left tackle had a hell of a game," Mettenberger said. "He was all over [defensive end Jadeveon] Clowney all night. And the two young guys, Vadal [Alexander] and Trai [Turner], played lights out."
Prior to the South Carolina game, the LSU offensive line allowed 15 sacks this season, six of which came at the hands of two SEC defenses (Auburn and Florida), including two from the last high profile defensive end Dworaczyk had to block, Auburn's Corey Lemonier.
After Auburn, LSU junior defensive end Sam Montgomery promised he would take it upon himself to work harder in practice to make sure Dworaczyk and the rest of the offensive line would be better prepared for the other deadly SEC pass rushes.
"Having such a big name coming in like Clowney, I was going to make sure they were ready,"
Montgomery said. "Had to slap them around, had to give them some of that Saturday night Sam Montgomery. Just to make sure they were ready for war … I refuse to let somebody come in and jump on them like that."
Mentally, the Tiger offense showed glimpses of the old Mad Hatter play calling, running out of formations the South Carolina defense hadn't seen, most notably the unveiling of the "Ware-cat" formation.
LSU coach Les Miles said the new, more creative plays have always been in the playbook — this was just the first time the Tigers decided to use them.
Sophomore wide receiver Jarvis Landry took it a step further, saying Florida was a "wakeup call" for the offense.
"If you look at things from previous games, even the Florida game, we had opportunities to score," Landry said. "I feel like this today it was the stress of, you have to get it, you have to win. We kind of played most of our cards doing things we do well."