Spring practice: Tuesday notebook

Miles addressed the media after Tuesday's practice. Go inside for notes from the interview session.

By this time each offseason, whether at spring or fall camp, LSU coach Les Miles has talked about how one unit is lagging behind the other, which then pours into dialogue about how the entire team has to catch up to speed.

But on Tuesday, after four days of spring practice, Miles led off the post-practice media session with nothing but positive reviews.

"I think there is a team that ran hard and is getting better," Miles said. "It was a good practice, very physical. We had a nice start and a nice finish."

Here are some notes from the day:

  • Miles got practice going with the big cat drill, where he put linebacker Ronnie Feist, an early enrollee, up against sophomore running back Kenny Hilliard.

    Despite being outweighed by 15 pounds and being 12 months behind Hilliard on Tommy Moffitt's workout plan, Feist quickly pushed Hilliard back and slammed him into the ground, which stood as the most celebrated moment during the individual drills.

    "(Feist is) young," Miles said. "He appears to have talent and ability, and is certainly physical. That Big Cat drill is a nice predictor of toughness and being capable."

    As for Hilliard, who has been on the losing end of all his battles in the drill this spring, Miles isn't sweating the string of bad showings.

    "Again, it's technique," Miles said. "Kenny was really good at it last fall. It tells you it takes time to get your feet back underneath you and expect contact.

    "It's a great leveler. You understand what you need to bring to the field."

  • When it comes to the battles in the trenches, LSU has mostly veterans on offensive line, meaning plenty of focus is going to be on the defensive line when looking for bodies to insert into the weekly rotation.

    After Tuesday's practice, kudos went out to sophomore defensive tackle Ego Ferguson.

    "Guys are making some nice progress, and I liked some of the younger guys (Tuesday)," Miles said.

    "I kind of liked Ego Ferguson (Tuesday). Ego did some very good things."

    Miles also touched on the progress of sophomore Elliot Porter, who has been taking reps at center with the second team.

    "I like (Porter), especially (Tuesday)," Miles said. "He has improved, and I think he will challenge for playing time."

  • For the second day in a row, both junior running back Michael Ford and senior offensive guard Josh Dworaczyk were dressed in green no-contact jerseys.

    Ford's injury is unknown, while Dworaczyk is attempting to bounce back after a season-ending injury in fall camp last season.

    "We are taking things slowly with those two," Miles said.

  • For much of the media session, Miles discussed the walk-on tryouts for special teams, which are being held on Tuesday and Thursday.


    Former LSU women's soccer senior goalkeeper Mo Isom is part of the competition for a roster spot, competing with an all-male group as a kicker.

    "There is an ongoing kicking tryout right now," Miles said, confirming that Isom was part of the group. "But it's a bad day for anyone to kick because of the wind."

    Isom first began practicing for the tryout last summer when she began working in the LSU indoor facility with members of the football team.

    Though Miles was not on hand, word made way back to his office.

    "I did hear how the workout went," Miles said. "Obviously she has ball skills and has been around it."

    Whether Isom makes the team remains to be seen, but Miles made it clear his approach would be based on talent and not gender.

    "If she gave us an opportunity to have an advantage, and I mean add an advantage, we would certainly consider that," Miles said.

    "The good thing about it is that she is an athlete and has been on a team before. She understands the commitment. I would have much less reservations with her than other people who didn't know what they were getting into."

    If Isom earns a roster spot, she would be the first female kicker at a FBS school since Katie Hnida at New Mexico in 2003. Hnida later became the first female to score in a FBS game when she kicked two extra points against Texas State.

    Here are some additional notes from the practice session earlier in the afternoon:

  • The defense won the majority of Tuesday's battles in the big cat drill, with the defensive line scoring four big wins in a row over backup offensive linemen and tight ends.

    Outside of Feist's win over Hilliard, one of the most impressive wins belonged to redshirt freshman cornerback Jalen Collins, who slammed fellow redshirt freshman Paul Turner to the ground.

    The win drew cheers from the defensive backs, who know that Collins is pushing to get to the field for the first time as a Tiger.

    Collins, fellow redshirt freshman David Jenkins and sophomore Ron Vinson are all battling for the third cornerback spot behind Tyrann Mathieu and Tharold Simon, and presumably the second cornerback spot when Mathieu shifts to his role in the nickel and dime packages.

  • After talking with a former player at practice, I expect LSU running backs coach Frank Wilson to press for his stable of backs to trim down this offseason.

    The lightest of the group is Alfred Blue at 6-2 and 215 pounds. The heaviest: Jeremy Hill at 6-2 and 240 pounds.

    The official roster at www.LSUsports.net lists Spencer Ware at 5-11 and 223 pounds, though it appears he may be closer to 230 pounds.

    Michael Ford is listed at 5-10 and 215 pounds and Terrance Magee at 5 -9, 212 pounds, though it appears Magee has moved above that mark.

  • The quarterbacks worked on throwing routes with both the wide receivers and tight ends before they moved into handoff drills with the running backs.

    Zach Mettenberger looked the part on Tuesday, and it's evident he has been working on his timing with receivers outside of practice.

    Collins said Monday that Mettenberger and the wide receivers began workouts together over a month ago.

    Quarterbacks coach Steve Kragthorpe had both praise and consternation for Stephen Rivers, who is making big progress since he arrived in Baton Rouge last May.

    Kragthorpe repeatedly told Rivers his hips were getting better when he dropped back and turned to throw, then Kragthorpe jumped on his backup QB when Rivers threw a ball too high on a deep route and it got caught in the wind, forcing the receiver to come to a standstill to catch the football.

    When throwing 5-yard slants, Kragthorpe praised all three quarterbacks – including redshirt freshman Jerrard Randall – for driving the ball into the hands of the receiver.

    While he has bouts with accuracy, Randall has no trouble with ball velocity. Out of the trio, Randall throws arguably the hardest ball.

  • In a race to the field, sophomores Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham made things look routine on Tuesday.

    Beckham flashed a couple of one-handed snags on overthrown deep balls, while Landry tucked away some tough throws when running slant routes.

    If Beckham and Landry are battling juniors James Wright and Kadron Boone, it could be argued that the younger pair are having a quicker start to spring practice.

    And remember, with Adam Henry in his first year as wide receivers coach, everyone is getting a chance to make a first impression.

  • That could be big news for sophomore Armand Williams.

    At 6-3 and 200 pounds, Williams looks like a slightly smaller version of Rueben Randle, though it's evident that Williams has a way to go before earning the reps Randle earned.

    While there hasn't been much mention of Williams by the staff during the past two seasons, he could develop into the vertical deep-threat that is missing from the unit.

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