Tired Tigers get mixed reviews in final scrimmage

The last fall practice scrimmage for the LSU football team involved a limited agenda, but it allowed head coach Nick Saban to get a good look at his team before it begins preparations for their season opener in earnest.

While the Tigers didn't run the ball extensively and backed off on their hitting somewhat, Saban saw enough of his team Wednesday night under the lights of Tiger Stadium to praise his defense and pan his offense.

"We didn't do a while lot of hitting out there, but the hitting we did do was good," said Saban. "The defense was pretty aggressive and enthusiastic and got some turnovers…I was pleased with the way the defense played in this scrimmage relative to the last one.

"Offensively, I don't think we were as sharp as I'd have like to seen us be."

Saban said he didn't allow the offense to run up the middle much to avoid pile-ups and potential injuries with 10 days remaining until LSU faces Tulane. The statistics indicate there were 21 carries spread out among four backs for a total of 73 yards.

"You guys are going to look at the statistics and think we didn‘t run the ball well," Saban explained to reporters. "We wanted to get work in and scrimmage, but we wanted to work more on the passing doing two-minute and third-down type things."

Starting quarterback Rohan Davey was limited to two series and completed 12 of his 20 passes for 150 yards. Backups Matt Mauck and Marcus Randall had good and bad moments, according to Saban, who added that the two redshirt freshmen should concentrate more becoming good players rather than who earns the No. 2 job behind Davey.

"I think the offense looked a little better in the first scrimmage than they did tonight," said Saban. "But when you're playing against yourself and one side looks good, the other side can't look all that good. Both first units did good things, so I was pleased with that."

Saban said he thinks fatigue may have factored into the some of the performances he saw in Wednesday night's scrimmage, noting that he did not give his players a lot of time off beforehand. The Tigers held a walk-through session Wednesday morning on the heels of a full pad practice on Tuesday evening. The Tigers have Thursday off before getting to work on their game plan for Tulane on Friday, and Saban believes the break will allow players to get their legs back.

When asked about the conditioning level of his team, Saban said it was hard to determine at this point with so many players wearing down at the end of two-a-days. He noted that conditioning would be an important factor in the Tulane game, especially for the defense which has to work against a Green Wave offense that operates frequently from a no-huddle offense.

To prepare the Tigers for a no-huddle attack, Saban said he has spot-trained his defense during practice sessions and ran a nine-play series using the no-huddle during the scrimmage. "It's a whole new ball game when you play the no-huddle because you take a defensive player out of sync in terms of what he normally does between plays," said Saban.

Saban and his staff have made some decisions regarding who will make up the various starting units, and these particular units have been working together in recent practices. Any potential changes in the depth chart would be addressed after reviewing video tape of the scrimmage, Saban said. Since the Tigers use multiple formations on both sides of the ball, Saban said he's identified 17 starters on offense and more than 16 on defense.

"I think it's important to develop team chemistry," Saban said regarding the importance of establishing a starting lineup, but added, "I don't think we need to get the same players on the field every day because, in this day and age of football, you've got four wideouts on one play and regular people on the next…

"It's important to develop continuity, but I think it's important to develop players. There's not a lot of battles still going on. I think a lot of that has ironed itself out.

Saban stated that Derron Parquet's status on the team remains the same two days after he returned to practice. After missing workouts on Sunday and Monday morning, Parquet rejoined the team Monday evening after addressing "personal concerns" with his family. Saban said he met with certain players and team leaders to discuss whether Parquet should be allowed to rejoin the team after missing two practices, and the players agreed Parquet should be let back on.

Saban also updated reporters on the status of two players and one signee who are in academic limbo entering the 2001 season.

Running back Ryan Gilbert passed a retake of the ACT to verify his passing score from earlier in the summer, but Saban said the NCAA must process paperwork to clear his retake score. Gilbert, a true freshman from Dallas, has missed most of fall camp with a patellar tendon injury.

The NCAA is also holding up the clearance of freshman safety Brandon Williams. In question is whether or not a class Williams took as a sophomore at Port Allen High School meets core qualification requirements. While choosing his words carefully, Saban expressed his displeasure with the process holding up Williams' approval.

"For some technical reason, they've not cleared him," Saban said. "It's a paperwork issue that has to go from high school to a committee, and the committee only meets at certain times. I would think that we would have a little more compassion, sympathy, conviction to the players to have a committee meeting when it's a little more advantageous to the guy being able to start the season and know he doesn't have a problem."

Williams can continue to practice with the team after LSU obtained a waiver to extend his grace period while the clearinghouse process takes place.

Offensive lineman Nate Livings, who resigned with LSU for the second straight year in February, took a class to increase his core grade points average and is currently waiting on the grade. Saban said a passing grade for Livings means he will be set to join the team.

INJURIES: Redshirt freshman linebacker Lionel Turner twisted a knee during the scrimmage, but the severity of the injury was not know immediately after the scrimmage. Saban said doctors will examine Turner on Thursday and make a diagnosis at that time and that he expects Turner to miss no more than one or two weeks of action.

Other players hurt in the scrimmage were tight end Robert Royal, who will miss a day or two of practice with a twisted ankle, and strong safety Lionel Thomas, who re-aggravated a turf toe injury. Thomas should not miss much, if any, practice time, said Saban.


- LSU Sports Information

Passing                  Att. Comp. Yards
Rohan Davey       20      12     150
Matt Mauck          17        6     111
Marcus Randall     16        6      45
Rick Clausen          6        1       4

Rushing                       Att.  Yards   TDs
Devery Henderson      6       34    1
Joseph Addai             8       16    0
LaBrandon Toefield     3      12     0
Derron Parquet           4      11     0

Receiving                 Rec. Yards
Josh Reed              6     60
Blain Bech              3     67
Jerel Meyers           2     46
Marcus Spears        2     45
Robert Royal          2     26
Corey Webster        2     14

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