With Media Day in the rearview mirror, the LSU football team got down to business Wednesday morning with the first wave of full-team two-a-days in full pads.
The media was permitted to observe four periods, starting with an abbreviated big cat drill in which most of the battles ended in standoffs. The one notable exception was when redshirt freshman Travis Dickson got the best of linebacker Karnell Hatcher – more on him in a minute.
--- Freshman running back Terrance Magee was back at practice but wore a green no-contact jersey, as did linebacker Luke Muncie. Fullback J.C. Copeland was still nowhere to be found, although he did take part in Media Day on Monday.
Defensive end Sam Montgomery left the field after one drill and got some attention from the training staff, but it was hard to see for what. He returned to the field shortly afterward.
--- Some good news on the injury front was that receiver Jarvis Landry was out of his protective boot and running a few routes. Landry said Monday he felt like he was getting close to being ready to go.
--- The most spirited drill while the media was on hand was when the running backs trotted over to the defensive practice field to go head-to-had with the linebackers in blitz pickup simulation.
With normally low-key running backs coach Frank Wilson flashing some intensity, the backs lined up next to a tackling dummy with the objective of holding off a blitzing backer for 5 seconds before he got a hand on the dummy.
“You’ve got to be violent with your hands!” Wilson bellowed. “It’s a 5-second fight and you’ve gotta win it!”
Veterans Spencer Ware, Michael Ford and Alfred Blue held up well on most of their reps through the drill, although speedy linebacker Ryan Baker blazed past Blue on his last turn. Freshman Kenny Hilliard was also effective, and the most impressive fullback was Connor Neighbors, who barely budged against Hatcher.
The back who struggled most with the blitz pickup was diminutive Jakhari Gore – whiffing on one block altogether and getting beat quickly on two others.
Hatcher was the least effective of the blitzing linebackers, regardless of who the opposing back was, which is strange because a big part of his MO as a safety (perhaps too much) was the willingness and ability to deliver a blow. That fact, paired with his performance in the big cat drill makes me wonder is his banged-up shoulder isn’t bothering him more than he’s letting on.
--- The defensive backs seemed a little sluggish in their drill work, prompting coach Ron Cooper to twice hit the reset button.
Just conjecture, but you have to wonder if facing an Oregon-like, rapid-fire offensive style in practice the first few days hasn’t taken a toll on the DBs. It’s good to get accustomed to that now, and it also could be an indicator that there will be several players rotating in and out in the secondary against the Ducks – a la Brick Haley with the defensive line.
--- There wasn’t anything real eye-catching with the quarterbacks this morning. They worked on running the option with the backs and by they, I mean all three primary QBs.
No surprise, but Jordan Jefferson looked the most comfortable in the option – better than he did most of last season. The slimmed-down Jarrett Lee also looked more at ease running the option, enough so that it actually wouldn’t shock me if he even runs it a few times and makes some positive yardage. Zach Mettenberger was the least effective of the three, but I don’t fathom he’ll be called on to run the ball on purpose much.
--- I heard a new player nickname that could quickly climb up my list of favorites. As Blue was working in the blitz pickup drill, Wilson repeatedly called him Cheese. Outstanding.
The Tigers are back on the field this afternoon. We don’t have media access to players of coaches today, but keep checking back to our Media Day hub and Fall camp hub for continuing blanket coverage of LSU.
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