On the eve of LSU’s first scrimmage of pre-season camp, the second practice on Friday was again inside and the offensive line was more patchwork quilt than the veteran, dominating group it’s expected to be this season.
Five o-linemen were missing from the afternoon session: Projected starters Will Blackwell, Josh Dworaczyk and Chris Faulk and two young players slated as second-teamers – Evan Washington and La’El Collins.
The missing players forced a shuffle on both of the first two teams, with several young players working in more than usual, and that will be the case Saturday when the Tigers go through a 75-85 play scrimmage at Tiger Stadium.
LSU coach Les Miles downplayed the offensive linemen missing in action.
“We certainly wish those guys were there, but it’s not an issue that’s stopping us from practicing or moving the ball or doing thing we need to do,” he said.
Miles said he expects all of the linemen back by Monday, with the possible exception of Blackwell, who has missed the last several practices. The 6-foot-4, 290-pound senior right guard missed most of last season after suffering a broken ankle on the first offensive snap of the season, but Miles said Blackwell’s absence isn’t the result of a relapse.
The linemen weren’t the only players missing.
Sophomore defensive back Tyrann Mathieu and junior tight end missed both of Friday’s workouts and fullback J.C. Copeland still has yet to suit up. He was at Friday’s second practice in shorts and a T-shirt and looked like he had been through a workout.
As with the linemen, Miles said he expects most of the walking wounded back by Monday or soon after.
Other news and notes from Friday’s second practice:
--- Saturday’s scrimmage will include 40 live snaps and there will be referees on hand. Miles said the first units will start out against the second units, but the starting offense and defense will get time against each other.
After the scrimmage in the morning the players and coaches will convene at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center and Carl Maddox Fieldhouse for Fan Day, with events starting at 3 p.m. and running through 6 p.m.
Miles, the offensive coaches and the offensive players will be in the PMAC and the defensive and special teams coaches and players will be in the fieldhouse.
Fans will also have the chance to meet Mike the Tiger, the LSU cheerleaders and the soccer team.
The first 3,000 fans in attendance will receive an LSU Fan Day gift bag from the LSU SportShop featuring a 2011 football schedule poster, the popular football placard poster and sample products from various LSU corporate partners.
The Mike’s Kids Club Fan Zone will be located inside the Maddox Field House where young Tiger fans can register for the club. For a one-time membership fee of $10, kids 12 and younger can join the club, and new members will receive an official club T-shirt, a Mike the Tiger bobble head, an autographed photo of Mike the Tiger and invitations to exclusive events. All current club members can pick up their special offer packets for only $8.
Fans are reminded that no coolers or chairs will be allowed into either facility and that they are limited to one autograph item per person.
--- The quarterbacks and receivers worked on routes where the receivers ran out patterns out of quick, sharp breaks and the quarterbacks rolled out and threw on the run.
Among the receivers, the crispest routes – other than the two veterans, Rueben Randle and Russell Shepard – were turned in by freshmen Odell Beckham and Armand Williams. Beckham continued to impress, snaring any ball close to him and Williams had one of his better practices of pre-season camp.
With the quarterbacks, Jordan Jefferson was the most effective passer on rollouts, consistently delivering the ball to receivers so that it was there waiting as soon as they made their breaks.
“I think Jefferson is having a very, very good camp,” Miles said. “The passing is much improved and I like our freshmen.”
Sophomore Zach Mettenberger was not comfortable at all, looking clunky and unsure of himself when he rolled out and struggling to connect with several receivers.
--- Also in the receivers group, freshman Jarvis Landry was in a green no-contact jersey, but was in a helmet and shoulder pads like everybody else and running full speed. If his surgically repaired foot was keeping him from making any cuts or going full speed, it was difficult to detect.
Miles said it won’t take for Landry to make up the time he missed while he was in a protective boot after surgery in late July.
“That’s a quick heal for a small bone in his foot,” Miles said.
“He is such a bright, want-to-compete and aggressive learner, I don’t think he’s got much catching up to do. I think he knows exactly what he needs to do.”
--- There was an air of intensity at the afternoon session, especially with the defensive coaches.
Miles joked about the more vocal activity on the defensive end of the field, saying “Defensive coaches get cranky when they have to practice twice. Offensive coaches don’t. They’re more even keeled.”
--- After a week of work, it appears roles have started to take shape, but Miles said there is still plenty of competition at some sports. He evaded identifying those spots, though.
“I think there’s some real spots up for rotation,” Miles said. “I think guys that are making their case right now in scrimmage format. I think there’s enough flexibility in this system to allow for the best players to play very early.”
--- With the notion of Texas A&M making a move to the SEC gaining major traction the last two days, Miles was asked about facing the Aggies on a yearly basis.
Miles said he doesn’t think there’s any reason to think the SEC is desperate to expand, despite the growing likelihood of 16-team super conferences.
“I certainly would enjoy great competition and that rivalry, there’s no question,” Miles said of facing the Aggies. I think there are a lot of schools that would like to want to be in this league.
“I don’t know that (expansion is) inevitable. What’s gone on in this conference in history has not ever been done. We’ve dominated the title game. The style of teams that are playing in this league are as good as there is. To argue that expansion even better, I don’t know that that’s true.”
“We’ll look forward to competing with whoever might be added to the SEC.”