Starters sound, second team lacking in scrimmage

LSU took part in its first scrimmage of spring Saturday afternoon in Tiger Stadium, coping with cool temperatures and a light drizzle. <br><br>Head coach Nick Saban was pleased with the overall effort but was unhappy with the mental toughness and focus from the younger players in the scrimmage.

"I had hoped they would carry over more from practice into today," Saban said. "I hope they make more improvement before the next scrimmage."

One could say the inclement could play a factor in the way some of the players performed. However, Saban dismissed the chilly temps as an excuse for a lack on intensity and occasional mental lapses.

"They have to show mental toughness," Saban said. "That is the maturity I am talking about. Like when we went to Auburn last year, when you get in weather like that, you can't just throw in the towel. We are going to have to learn to play in the elements. You can't control the weather."

Offense has been the brightest aspect of spring drills. With a wealth of talent and experience back from last season's team, Saban bragged about his offensive team with the promise they have shown through the first two weeks of the spring.

"I can't say I am totally pleased with everything out there today," Saban said. "But I am happy with the way the one's played on both sides of the ball."

Skill positions on offense are the Tigers' strength as LSU is deep and experienced at quarterback and wide receiver. The running backs, however, shined the brightest Saturday as junior running back Joseph Addai and sophomore tailback Shyrone Carey ran away with the show.

Addai ran for 61 yards on nine carries, including a 14-yard touchdown, and he caught four passes for 71 yards.

Carey led all ball carriers with 10 carries for 101 yards. His highlights included a 30-yard run from scrimmage and a 39-yarder that was curtailed when he was called for a facemask penalty.

"I think Joseph Addai and Shyrone Carey showed a lot of toughness and ran the ball extremely well," Saban said. "There is a lot for them to prove in terms of their durability, but I certainly think those guys have the ability to make big plays."

Durability at running back is something which has haunted LSU in the past as tailback LaBrandon Toefield was plagued with injuries through his career.

"Those guys (Addai and Carey) have to prove they are going to be durable," Saban said. "I don't know if you can play in this league without a few bumps and bruises, but they have to learn to overcome adversity."

Matt Mauck received two-thirds of the snaps with LSU's first team offense. Despite still being slowed by last season's foot injury, Mauck threw the ball well with the Tigers ones.

"That is how we planned for it to work," Saban said. "We had planned on Matt taking two-third of the snaps with the ones and Marcus getting one-third of those snaps."

As far as the quarterback position is concerned, Saban said the Tiger coaching staff used this initial scrimmage of the spring to get a closer look at third team signal caller Lester Ricard.

"Lester is the one we wanted to look at with the twos today," Saban said.

Going against the No. 2 defense, Mauck again led the No. 1 offense to a 4-play, 15-yard drive culminating with a Jason Spadoni 2-yard touchdown run. Mauck connected with Devery Henderson on a 28-yard strike for LSU's third touchdown.

Mauck, who was seeing his first live game or scrimmage action since injuring his foot in the Florida contest last October, completed 9 of 19 passes for 138 yards and one touchdown. He did not throw an interception. Marcus Randall, who split time with the Nos. 1 and 2 offenses, connected on 11 of 28 passes for 106 yards and one interception.

"I thought both Matt and Marcus did some good things at times," Saban said. "Hopefully, Matt (Mauck) will keep getting better and be able to do more and more as time goes on.

"I think this was his most difficult situation because he always has a day's rest in between practices and since we practiced yesterday and scrimmaged today, he has probably done more back-to-back than what he would typically have to do. I thought Marcus (Randall) did some good things. We still need to improve in the passing game."

Ricard, seeing his first significant action in a scrimmage since joining the Tigers last season, hit on 1 of 8 attempts for 5 yards. Ricard had receivers drop three of his passes. Rick Clausen hit on 2 of 3 passes for 25 yards for the Tigers.

Michael Clayton enters his junior year at LSU as one of the top wide receivers in the nation. However, a cameo appearance at free safety in last season's Cotton Bowl has everyone wondering if the 6-3 Baton Rouge native will see time on defense.

Clayton, along with sophomore Justin Vincent, are two offensive players who are getting looks on the defensive side of the ball.

"We would rather not play either guy on defense," Saban said.

Saban said Clayton has such an understanding of the offense that he is able to relate his offensive knowledge to move instinctively on defense. However, Clayton is such a valuable asset he will be relied upon to play wide receiver.

"He is not in on any of our regular defensive sets," Saban said. "He plays some safety, but most in nickel and dime situations."

The experiment of Vincent in the secondary is just that, an experiment. The sophomore from Lake Charles is regarded as one of the best athletes on the entire LSU team. Saban said they are trying Vincent at safety in case of a possible emergency in the future.

"We want to find out if he has any potential on defense to possibly help us out if the situation arises," Saban said.

Saban said LSU's No. 1 defense was without three players for the scrimmage - defensive tackle Chad Lavalais and linebacker Lionel Turner both were out for personal reasons, while defensive end Marquise Hill is still recovering from off-season shoulder surgery.

Kicker Andre Boagni was successful on three of his five field goal attempts. Boagni kicked field goals of 22, 30 and 27 yards, while Ryan Gaudet added a 32-yard field goal.

March 29, 2003 - Scrimmage Statistics

Matt Mauck 9-13-138 1 TD
Marcus Randall 11-28-106 1 TD
Lester Ricard 1-80(-5)
Rick Clausen 2-3-25
Michael Harrison 1-1-18

Joseph Addai 9-61 1 TD
Jason Spadoni 7-31 1 TD
Justin Vincent 8-32 
Shyrone Carey 10-101
Ryan Gilbert 10-31
Michael Clayton 1-22
Devery Henderson 2-26

Michael Clayton 3-32
Devery Henderson 1-28 1 TD
Joseph Addai 4-71
Shyrone Carey 2-15
Junior Joseph 7-38
Eric Edwards 2-16

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