Ware, Murphy Back at Practice
Stevan Ridley has taken the majority of snaps at running back this season, and no other name – not even Russell Shepard – has come close to chipping into his 19, 17, 19 and 20 carry nights.
However, without Richard Murphy and Spencer Ware these past two weekends, the junior has only had to hold of true freshman Alfred Blue. On Wednesday, Les Miles said that his backfield had a full attendance for the third day in a row.
“Spencer Ware came back healthy and practiced pretty well,” Miles said. “Richard Murphy has practiced every snap.”
Right guard Will Blackwell and wide receiver Chris Tolliver remain out without a date set to return. On the tight end front, three names – Deangelo Peterson, Mitch Joseph and Tyler Edwards – were recently injured, but just one will be out for Saturday’s contest against Tennessee.
“(Joseph) is out,” Miles said. “(Edwards) practiced every snap (Wednesday), and I expect to have him in the game.”
Peterson’s New Role
When you have one name that leads the team in interceptions (2), return yards (443) and special teams touchdowns (2), it figures to give him a shot with the ball on offense.
For Patrick Peterson, the experiment began this week as the undefeated Tigers (4-0) prepare for Tennessee.
“I don’t know when he will be ready, but there is some thought process there on offense,” Miles said. “He can play a number of spots for us. Let’s tell it the way it is.”
Though no definitive word was given on where the junior defensive back has lined up on offense this week, the pair weren’t hesitant to offer up there own two cents on the situation.
“I think he could play tailback, to be honest,” Miles said. “Certainly receiver.”
“Probably getting a slip screen or something like that,” Peterson added. “Maybe the Wildcat.”
A Familiar Foe, But Business as Usual
LSU is 4-0, and much of that perfection can be pinned on the influence that second-year defensive coordinator John Chavis has had in his short stay in Baton Rouge.
Of course, before here, there was Knoxville, Tenn.
Chavis spent 20 seasons on the sidelines with the Volunteers, promoted to defensive coordinator by Phillip Fulmer in 1995. He won a national championship in the post-Peyton Manning era, and he also was instrumental in helping the school capture a pair of Southeastern Conference titles.
With the orange-clad faithful headed south to follow their Volunteers into Death Valley, Chavis and his players are keeping a lid on the conversation – at least publically.
“I'm purple and gold through and through; that's where I stand,” Chavis said. “If I finish my career here at LSU, I'll be a happy man.”
Senior linebacker Kelvin Sheppard, the eyes and ears for Chavis on the field, said that he hasn’t noticed a change in The Chief’s pace over the past few days of preparation.
“He hasn’t said anything about playing Tennessee and it being his old team, so it hasn’t really been an issue,” he said. “Nobody has even brought it up.
“It’s business as usual,” Miles said. “I think we have practiced this hard every week.”
A Chance of Lee?
Jordan Jefferson hasn’t thrown a touchdown since the first half of the North Carolina game in week one. That was also the last time the junior went over 100 yards through the air.
Four games later the Tigers are still perfect, but that hasn’t kept fans from calling for the backup.
“I relate,” Miles said. “I certainly have the same want and desire for dominant play in all phases. I want every position on our team to be a great contributor.”
While he will stick with Jefferson as the starter when the team takes the field against Tennessee, Miles has a plan in place for Lee given Jefferson veer off the desired path for a fourth week in a row.
“We have a possibility of how (Lee) enters the game,” he said. “You have to use the strengths of the players that are on the field. I think we look at the opportunities to play Jarrett. I think he’s worked very hard at it. He’s more mature.”
Winning Without All Phases
LSU couldn’t find its footing in the run game last fall, and the offense suffered in a big way because of it. Now that Stevan Ridley has breathed life into the otherwise stagnant phase of Gary Crowton’s attack, the onus is on Jefferson to get the passing game up to speed.
“We have to throw the football,” Miles said. “It’s just that simple. If you can’t throw the football, you will be ganged up on and that running game will come to a halt at some point. We can throw it; we just have to prove to our opponents that we can.”
Without a blemish on their record, the results are considered so far, so good – especially given the dominance of the other two phases of LSU’s game.
The defense ranks ninth in the country in yards allowed per game (254), while Patrick Peterson ranks second in the country as a return man with an average of 28.11 yards per return and two touchdowns.
“I know that you can win a lot of games with great defense,” Miles said. “Great defense and special teams puts you in most ball games. Great defense, special teams and a very strong running game, you might be undefeated for a long time.”