LSU quarterback Joe Burrow said it in August before the start of preseason practice.
Repeated it in September, October and November.
And emphasized it for good measure in December after No. 1 unbeaten Tigers won the SEC championship and when Burrow won the Heisman Trophy last Saturday.
“They took that criticism from last year to heart, they’ve been unreal all year,” Burrow said of LSU’s O-line. “They’re one of the most improved groups I’ve ever been around. I think they’re the best group in the country.”
The 13 members of the Joe Moore Award voting committee agreed with Burrow’s assessment, naming LSU’s offensive line on Thursday as the best in college football in 2019.
The Tigers’ line, anchored by seniors Lloyd Cushenberry and Damien Lewis and coached by James Cregg, paved the way for the most productive offensive season in school history.
Heading into a Dec. 28 CFP semifinal date against Oklahoma, LSU has set school records for points (621), points per game (47.8), total offense (7,207), passing yards (5,209), 50-point games (6), and games with at least 40 points (10).
LSU’s offensive line has featured eight different starters and only had two players that started all 13 games at the same position all season. The Tigers’ O-line unit persevered despite only twice starting the same lineup in back-to-back weeks.
LSU’s starting line has featured senior tackle Badara Traore (3 starts), junior tackle Saahdiq Charles (6 starts), freshman tackle Dare Rosenthal (3 starts), junior tackle Austin Deculus (10 starts), senior guard Adrian Magee (12 starts), sophomore guard Ed Ingraham (2 starts), senior right guard Lewis (12 starts), and senior center Lloyd Cushenberry III (12 starts).
Aaron Taylor, co-founder of the award and CBS Sports analyst, along with SEC Network analyst Cole Cubelic, presented the Joe Moore Trophy to the Tigers following practice on Thursday morning.
“In an unprecedented recognition of physicality in pass protection, Coach Cregg’s unit separated itself in the eyes of the voters by their effort and strain in the run game, and by how consistently they demonstrated that pass protection is not passive,” said Taylor, who played guard and tackle at the University of Notre Dame for the award namesake legendary offensive line coach Joe Moore.
Moore voter Randy Cross, a three-time All-Pro with the San Francisco 49ers, College Football Hall of Famer, CBS college football analyst, was also thoroughly impressed with the Tigers’ offensive front.
“All of this year’s finalists displayed the award criteria in impressive fashion, but LSU made a statement by how well they played together as a group and brought physicality to everything they did,” Cross said. “LSU showed a tone-setting attitude in both pass protection and in their run blocking that really caught the attention of the 200-plus member voting body that has collectively played and coached this position for well over 800 years.”
The Joe Moore Award trophy received by LSU is the largest trophy in college football with abnormal size only offensive linemen appreciate. It stands almost seven feet and weighs over 800 pounds. It will be displayed on the LSU campus until the conclusion of the 2020 season.
Also on Thursday, four Tigers were named to the Football Writers Association of America All-America team.
Burrow and wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase were selected to the first team while Cushenberry and defensive back Derek Stingley Jr. were on the second unit. Stingley is one of three freshmen on the team.
LSU’s four All-Americans mark its highest total ever and, with Burrow and Chase on the first team, this is the 10th time for the Tigers to have at least two first-teamers in a season. LSU has had at least one All-American in three of the last four seasons.
The conference breakdown of selections on the FWAA team is Big Ten (12), SEC (11), Big 12 and Pac-12 (9), ACC (8), Conference USA (2), Mountain West (2) and American Athletic (1). There are 11 players from Texas – seven on the first team – and five each from Florida and Louisiana.
Here’s the entire FWAA All-America teams:
QB Joe Burrow, LSU (6-4, 216, Sr., Athens, Ohio)
RB Chuba Hubbard, Oklahoma State (6-1, 207, So., Sherwood Park, Alberta)
RB Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin (5-11, 219, Jr., Salem, N.J.)
WR Ja’Marr Chase, LSU (6-1, 200, So., Metairie, La.)
WR CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma (6-2, 189, Jr., Richmond, Texas)
TE Harrison Bryant, Florida Atlantic (6-5, 240, Sr., Gray, Ga.)
OL Penei Sewell, Oregon (6-6, 325, So., Malaeimi, American Samoa)
OL John Simpson, Clemson (6-4, 330, Sr., North Charleston, S.C.)
OL Andrew Thomas, Georgia (6-5, 320, Jr., Lithonia, Ga.)
OL Tristan Wirfs, Iowa (6-5, 322, Jr., Mount Vernon, Iowa)
C Tyler Biadasz, Wisconsin (6-3, 321, Jr., Amherst, Wis.)
DL Bradlee Anae, Utah (6-3, 265, Sr., Laie, Hawaii)
DL Derrick Brown, Auburn (6-5, 318, Sr., Sugar Hill, Ga.)
DL James Lynch, Baylor (6-4, 295, Jr., Round Rock, Texas)
DL Chase Young, Ohio State (6-5, 265, Jr., Upper Marlboro, Md.)
LB Zack Baun, Wisconsin (6-3, 235, Sr., Brown Deer, Wis.)
LB Isaiah Simmons, Clemson (6-4, 230, Jr., Olathe, Kan.)
LB Evan Weaver, California (6-3, 235, Sr., Spokane, Wash.)
DB Jeff Okudah, Ohio State (6-1, 200, Jr., Grand Prairie, Texas)
DB J.R. Reed, Georgia (6-1, 194, Gr., Frisco, Texas)
DB Amik Robertson, Louisiana Tech (5-9, 183, Jr., Thibodaux, La.)
DB Antoine Winfield Jr., Minnesota (5-10, 205, So., The Woodlands, Texas)
K Keith Duncan, Iowa (5-10, 180, Jr., Weddington, N.C.)
P Max Duffy, Kentucky (6-1, 194, Jr., Perth, Australia)
KR Joe Reed, Virginia (6-3, 215, Sr., Charlotte Court House, Va.)
PR Jaylen Waddle, Alabama (5-10, 182, So., Houston, Texas)
AP J.K. Dobbins, Ohio State (5-10, 217, Jr., La Grange, Texas)
QB Justin Fields, Ohio State; RB Travis Etienne, Clemson; RB Zack Moss, Utah; WR Michael Pittman Jr., USC; WR James Proche, SMU; TE Charlie Kolar, Iowa State; OL Lloyd Cushenberry III, LSU; OL Wyatt Davis, Ohio State; OL Logan Stenberg, Kentucky; OL Calvin Throckmorton, Oregon; C Creed Humphrey, Oklahoma.
DL Leki Fotu, Utah; DL Greg Rousseau, Miami; DL Jaylen Twyman, Pitt; DL Curtis Weaver, Boise State; LB Jordyn Brooks, Texas Tech; LB Micah Parsons, Penn State; LB Hamilcar Rashed, Oregon State; DB Luq Barcoo, San Diego State; DB Jeff Gladney, TCU; DB C.J. Henderson, Florida; DB Derek Stingley Jr., LSU.
Nick Sciba, Wake Forest; P Sterling Hofrichter, Syracuse; KR Joshua Youngblood,
Kansas State; PR Jalen Reagor TCU; AP Brandon Aiyuk, Arizona State.
The FWAA’s All-America Committee selected this 76th annual team based on nominations from the entire membership. This is just the seventh season in the modern era (post-1950) that the FWAA has named a second team. The FWAA also selected an all-purpose player for a third time, which made for a 54-man full team.