The LSU football team hit the Ponderosa on Thursday morning for the first practice of the fall.
TigerSportsDigest.com was on the scene and has the latest quick hitters from the day’s varsity practice.
· - Assistant coach Frank Wilson’s backfield group worked in the following order: Spencer Ware, Alfred Blue, Michael Ford, James Stampley, and J.C. Copeland. Ware appears to be the lead man for the starting job at running back, while Stampley - a walk-on – and Copeland – a converted defensive tackle – will battle for the fullback spot. When the group moved to pass-catching drills with the wide receivers, it was Ware who flashed the best hands, drawing big praise from wide receivers coach Billy Gonzales.
· - The wide receiver group worked in the following order: Rueben Randle, Russell Shepard, Kadron Boone, James Wright, Jarrett Fobbs, and Odell Beckham – the lone freshman on offense called up to the varsity practice. Randle has always been the most consistent receiver of the group, but Shepard certainly didn’t struggle with consistency as he did in camp this time last fall. Boone and Wright will battle for the third man to the field, but don’t count out Beckham. With Jarvis Landry sidelined (foot stress fracture) for at least the first two weeks of camp, Beckham will take advantage of every extra rep he gets. He looked very smooth when running routes, and he can also claim a pair of the softest hands of all the receivers.
· - The tight end group was made up of only three bodies: DeAngelo Peterson, Mitch Joseph, and Nic Jacobs. Peterson is the clear-cut starter, with Joseph and Jacobs serving as the chief blocking tight ends. Jacobs, listed at 6-foot-5, 265 pounds, appears poised for his breakthrough to the field. His body looks in better shape than before and he’s moving much more fluidly.
· - The only two quarterbacks were Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee, meaning newcomers Zach Mettenberger, Stephen Rivers, and Jerrard Randall will work with the freshmen and selected veterans in this afternoon’s practice. With such a slow pace to the first workout, neither Jefferson nor Lee stood out above the other.
· - A pleasant surprise in the offensive line group was the presence of Josh Dworaczyk, who was sidelined with an injury all spring and summer. Dworaczyk was dressed out and rotated with T-Bob Hebert at left guard. Hebert worked primarily with the first team, which consisted of Chris Faulk at left tackle, P.J. Lonergan at center, Will Blackwell at right guard, and Alex Hurst and right tackle. Walk-on Ben Domingue worked as the second center, with Evan Washington working in the guard spot opposite of Hebert-Dworaczyk. Matt Branch, Greg Shaw, and Chris Davenport shuffled in as the final three bodies. Offensive line coach Greg Studrawa worked mainly on blocking schemes for screen plays, and the majority of his focus was on Faulk – the newcomer to the line. Studrawa screamed for Faulk to “look beaten, then get up field, outside that linebacker, and down the boundary!”
· - Not out of the ordinary, defensive line coach Brick Haley was the most vocal assistant on day one. Within minutes of the group hitting the sleds, Haley screamed for them to step away and begin a series of up-downs. “You are jumping off sides on day one!” he screamed. “This is pre-school stuff.” The first team consisted of (left to right) Ken Adams, Michael Brockers, Josh Downs, and Lavar Edwards. Montgomery, who didn’t appear full speed, backed up Edwards, and KeKe Mingo – who appeared to have packed on some pounds this summer – backed up Adams on the opposite side. Anthony Johnson, the lone freshman to work with the varsity defense, and Bennie Logan were the pair of back-up defensive tackles. Johnson looked the part and showed an improved first-step. Look for the New Orleans native to battle Downs for the tackle spot next to Brockers.
· - Defensive coordinator John Chavis was light on linebackers on Thursday, working with a first team of Ryan Baker, Kevin Minter, and Karnell Hatcher and a second team of Tahj Jones, Lamin Barrow, and Stefoin Francois. When they joined the secondary group, it was Baker and Hatcher as the starting two linebackers.
· - A stacked defensive backfield welcomed back Brandon Taylor, who suffered a foot injury that has kept him sidelined since the Alabama game last fall. Taylor and Craig Loston were the first safeties to the field, with Morris Claiborne and Tharold Simon at the corner spots. Secondary coach Ron Cooper worked in a good amount of nickel package on Thursday, and it was Tyrann Mathieu that made a home in his familiar spot as the third cornerback. Look for Mathieu and Simon to rotate as the team switches from nickel and dime to their basic 4-3.
- TigerSportsDigest.com will be back when the freshmen and selected varsity players practice today at 4:15 p.m. Check back for more.