Day two of LSU’s pre-season camp got underway Friday morning with a varsity practice under the sun.
The media was allowed to observe three, 5-minute sessions, and the
TigerSportsDigest.com staff was on hand to bring you the morning’s quick hitters.
- Defensive back is one of the deepest positions on the team, and Friday morning secondary coach Ron Cooper worked with a starting group that included Ryan Baker at weakside linebacker, Kevin Minter in the middle, and Stefoin Francois on the strong side. Morris Claiborne worked at right cornerback and Tharold Simon at left cornerback. Brandon Taylor and Eric Reid manned the two safety spots. The two positions up for battle are free safety and strongside linebacker. Reid will try to beat Craig Loston to the field, while Francois is matched up with converted safety Karnell Hatcher. The fortunate thing about the safety spot is that both Reid and Loston have logged time and look the part physically. Reid has one of the best frames I’ve seen on a safety, and he continues to add weight without losing that step. Loston is just as tall, but he’s not as heavy as Reid. No matter who wins the starting job, both can bring the wood, and defensive coordinator John Chavis said last spring that their ability to now feel comfortable in the scheme would turn them into the players that everyone expected when the two top-ranked safeties came out of high school. With Hatcher, it’s going to be about how quickly he can catch on at his new position. Mind you, this is the first time – spring or fall – that Hatcher has been injury-free in offseason camp. Of course, Tyrann Mathieu will roam the field when one of the linebackers – likely Minter – steps off the field. Cooper has said that Mathieu will also shuffle with Simon as the team’s second cornerback.
- The defensive line worked on wrapping up the ball carrier before moving to individual work on the sled, where a number of Tigers drew praise from defensive line coach Brick Haley. Michael Brockers continues to impress. He’s got great size at 6-foot-6, and he’s carrying right about 300 pounds. Assuming he locks up one starting defensive tackle spot, Haley will have to turn his focus to finding a second starter and a pair of tackles that can rotate into the mix. Freshman Anthony Johnson, who enrolled in the spring, could be that body, but for now it’s junior Josh Downs who takes the first-team reps. The first-team defensive ends have been Ken Adams and Lavar Edwards, but expect Sam Montgomery to be worked back into Edwards’ spot as fall camp progresses. I mentioned Thursday that Montgomery appeared to have a slower step than normal, but this morning he flashed the same speed and burst off the line that landed him four stars coming out of high school in South Carolina. I was also impressed with Adams on the sled. While he’s known as a speed man, he was able to throw around weight as easily as the big men like Brockers.
- On the offensive side, the only two quarterbacks were Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee. They worked with wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator Billy Gonzales for the majority of the session, with quarterbacks coach Steve Kragthorpe keeping a watchful eye on the pair. Jefferson looked confident today, but he still doesn’t hit his receivers on the money each time. Really, it’s the same old song and dance we have seen in recent offseason workouts. Lee looks the part in practice, but it doesn’t translate to Saturdays. While Jefferson might struggle with throws from time to time, his athleticism coupled with experience under center will keep him in the starting role as both men take to their final year at LSU.
- Rueben Randle and Russell Shepard led the receivers, and both ran clean routes and showed good hands. That’s no surprise from Randle, but Shepard’s progress is a great sign. While I think the battle for the third receiver position is going to be between Kadron Boone and James Wright, I’m anxious to see how strong of a push Odell Beckham can make. LSU coach Les Miles has given him the opportunity to work with the veterans instead of his fellow freshmen, and so far he’s made the most of it. He’s got some of the softest hands in the group, and he’s able to cut and get out of his breaks in a hurry. The fact that he has added some good weight to his 5-foot-11 frame is also a major plus.
- The tight ends group welcomed Chase Clement back to the varsity practice, where he joined up with DeAngelo Peterson, Mitch Joseph, and Nic Jacobs. With the quarterbacks paired with the receivers, the tight end group didn’t get into much during the 15 minutes that media was allowed to observe.
- New offensive coordinator Greg Studrawa worked alone with his offensive line, spending the majority of the time working on a second unit that consisted of Chris Davenport at left tackle, Matt Branch at left guard, Ben Domingue at center, Evan Washington at right guard, and Greg Shaw at right tackle. First-teamers T-Bob Hebert, P.J. Lonergan, Chris Faulk, and Alex Hurst served as bodies on the defensive line. Josh Dworaczyk and Will Blackwell watched on and helped give instructions to the younger Tigers.
The TigerSportsDigest.com staff will be back on hand this afternoon when the freshmen and selected veterans hit the field. Check back as fall camp continues.