Scrimmage notes show emerging Tigers

A day after the first scrimmage of LSU's spring practice period, takes a closer look at where the Tigers stand position by position.

QB: Matt Mauck made it clear to me he's the No. 1 quarterback. He's still not mobile as he needs to be, but he's got the better touch on his passes and is a more tangible leader on the field than Marcus Randall.

If Mauck doesn't resume the form he showed against Tennessee in the 2001 SEC Championship or last season against Florida, perhaps all is not lost. He can still be very effective thanks to the number of great skill players around him.

Jimbo Fisher will have to show more multiple aspects of his offense if Mauck can't run, which I think would be a challenge Fisher would welcome.

Randall didn't have many sustained drives in the scrimmage, although he is very dangerous as a runner.

Ricard needs more practice time but shows that he has the tools to get the job done. He's got the best arm on the team right now.

Rick Clausen has probably relinquished the No. 3 role, and Michael Harrison's hamstring injury has prevented him from making a move up the depth chart.

RB: Joseph Addai is the dominant back here - no question. He's perhaps the best pass-catcher out of the backfield since Kevin Faulk.

Shyrone Carey got the bulk of the work in the scrimmage, and I believe the coaching staff will be watching closely to see how he responds in the coming week. The main thing lacking from Carey thus far has been consistency, so it will be interesting to see if he can come up with another strong scrimmage next week and close with a productive spring game.

Ryan Gilbert looked good on his carries and shouldn't be considered out of the picture as some have suggested.

Justin Vincent is a good hard-nosed runner, but he only has two weeks of practice with the team. He may indeed be the back of the future for the Tigers but will have handle the rigors of orientation first.

One thing that must be noted is that Carey, Gilbert, Vincent and Jason Spadoni gained a lot of their yards against the deficient second and third team defenses that Saban called out after the scrimmage.

FB: Bull Hurley has to be considered the starter here. Some observers have said Shawn Jordan is going to come in a take the starting job as a freshman, but I can't make that assessment until I see him against college-level competition in person.

I think someone making a prediction like this is just gambling that they'll be right, with hopes of looking like an astute football mind if it turns out they're correct.

Kevin Steltz was used as a back-up fullback in the scrimmage. He's one of the strongest players on the team but doesn't have the needed athletic ability. If he gets his hands on a defender, he's going to make a block but will struggle if he has to run someone down.

TE: Don't be surprised to see Demetri Robinson as the go-to man at tight end ahead of Eric Edwards. But that designation might not mean too much since there are likely to be a lot of two tight end sets used. David Jones is also going to be used in this mix.

Kory Hebert looks like he's added considerable size but still has to make an impression this spring to get playing time.

OL: Saban said he has seven guys right now who ready right now to be contributors on the line - eight if you include the injured Ben Wilkerson. The obvious four are Rodney Reed, Stephen Peterman, Andrew Whitworth and Rudy Niswanger. Niswanger has played center in Wilkerson's absence but could be starting elsewhere once Wilkerson gets back.

The top reserve is Terrell McGill, who played left guard with the first team. The up-and-comers on the line are Doug Planchard, who was the back-up center, and Pete Dyakowski, the No. 2 left tackle.

Nate Livings is just on the fringe of entering that top group, but he got his signals crossed on one crucial play. If he gets a mental grasp on his assignments, he's got the physical skills to be a dominant right tackle.

Other players on the line who left an impression were Paris Hodges (now at an acceptable playing weight and a crushing run blocker), Jimmy Courtenay (the walk-on played at No. 2 right guard) and Brian Johnson (No. 2 left guard).

WR: Michael Clayton is a specimen who was engaged in some good one-on-one battles with Corey Webster. To his credit, Webster had the better scrimmage with a couple of break-ups against the Tigers' top pass catcher.

Skyler Green is still hampered by that knee he bumped earlier this month, but he will be fine before long. It's obvious Saban wants him to grow into one of the Tigers' top playmakers.

Devery Henderson looks a little bigger than last season, when he really made a nice transformation from his freshman to sophomore in terms of his physique.

Junior Joseph is holding on to the No. 4 spot right now, especially with Bennie Brazell occupied with track. But Joseph will need to have a better showing if he wants to hold off the incoming freshmen in the fall.

A host of walk-ons had the ball thrown to them in the scrimmage, but none should expect to be on the field this fall.


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