Tigers ease through first scrimmage

The LSU Tigers walked through their first scrimmage of the spring Friday evening in Tiger Stadium. <br><br> Head coach Nick Saban said he was pleased with his team's effort and intensity, but said his team lost focus as fatigue set in. <br><br> LSU takes the next week off for spring break and will return to action the following Monday.

What we saw (and thought):

Skyler Green is as impressive as ever returning punts and kickoffs. Green broke a punt return for 40-plus yards and also brought back a kickoff for what would have been a touchdown had the whistle not been blow due to scrimmage guidelines.

 

Chris Jackson will make sure he keeps the ball between the sidelines on his kickoffs. The Tigers usual kickoff specialist, Jackson boomed a kickoff well out of bounds, drawing some rather harsh criticism from Saban. As Jackson slinked to the LSU bench, the fiery Saban followed close behind shouting, "what's the problem Jackson? You can't hit a 53-yard target," Saban of course referring to the width of the field. Ryan Gaudet came on and made sure to kick it between the hash marks. More troubles for Jackson, he made only 1-of-4 field goals with one kick bouncing off the upright.

 

All-American cornerback Corey Webster surely didn't look like one Friday. Webster was burned repeatedly deep down the field, once by JaMarcus Russell for a touchdown. Matt Flynn also went deep over Webster's head for a completion down to the three. Both passes were hauled home by sophomore wideout Craig Davis.

 

Speaking of wide receivers, Dwayne Bowe is rapidly picking up the reputation as LSU's next, big, physical star receiver, soon to follow in Michael Clayton's footsteps. Bowe is making very physical catches and abuses cornerbacks on virtually every play. Amp Hill remained in a red jersey Friday and was the only player on the team in red. Read our lips – Dwaye Bowe is a star.

 

Claude Wroten made his first impression at defensive tackle. The heir-apparent to Chad Lavalais' vacated spot, Wroten was constantly in the backfield and made a nice slashing move into the backfield batting down a Flynn pass.

 

For those of you following the quarterback race, Marcus Randall was the obviously the No. 1 guy. However, Russell and Flynn got the most reps under center. If one had to make an assumption who could be No. 2 at this time, it would be Russsell. However, Flynn had his positive moments as well. As far as a fourth team quarterback, let's just leave it at three, walk-on freshman Brian Farrar from Tioga is a distant fourth – very, very distant.

 

Boy is LSU missing Donnie Jones right not. Patrick Fisher handled most of the punting duties on Friday, but Chris Jackson is probably a close second. Although Fisher's yardage was decent, there was little spiral and he lacked the loft in his kicks needed for proper punt coverage. Toss in the fact Alley Broussard blocked one of Fisher's offerings, it was not the best day for the redshirt freshman.

 

Travis Daniels snags the first interception of the day. Randall did his best impression of the 2002 Auburn game overshooting Skyler Green and hitting Daniels squarely in the numbers. Daniels danced his way through coverage for what would have been a touchdown.

That's right folks, freshman safety Joe Lawrence may be 27 years old, but he is making quite an impact in spring drills. The former Major League Baseball player from Lake Charles, Lawrence (a Jack Hunt clone) has excellent speed in the defensive secondary and quite a nose for the ball. On a perfectly thrown bullet from Russell, Lawrence broke on the ball perfectly deflecting the assured completion.

Quoting Saban:

"I was pleased with what got accomplished out there today," Saban said. "I thought especially early we looked good, crisp, sharp, and fast. I think got tired probably pretty quickly in the scrimmage and let it affect us a little bit mentally in terms of our ability to stay sharp and crisp and execute the way we need to with consistency."

"I was really pleased with the way we made some big plays offensively today with the receivers," Saban said. "Dwayne (Bowe) made some nice catches and Buster (Davis) made some nice catches. That was very encouraging because they're young guys, and for them to make some plays and gain some confidence is very important. I was pleased with how all three of the quarterbacks played. I'm sure they all had a few plays that they would like to have back in terms of throws that they made, but would like to build on the success that they had with some of the good plays that they made."

"I felt like we ran the ball effectively with the first group, regardless of who they were playing against," Saban said.

"I was a little disappointed that the defense, not in the way they played, but that they gave up more big plays than what we would like to see given up," Saban said. "We did get a few turnovers today, but for as many plays as we played probably not as many as we'd like. I was concerned that the intensity didn't stay, and we weren't able to sustain the intensity that we had. I thought we played better on defense as the scrimmage went on. I thought we started out great on offense and maybe didn't execute as well as time went on.

"There were a lot of good things, a lot of things that need to be corrected. I think we've got a lot of young players in new positions that probably for the first scrimmage they're going to make a tremendous amount of improvement between this time and the next time. And I think that's important."

Statistically speaking:

In the game-like portion of the scrimmage, the Tigers scored three touchdowns and added a pair of Ryan Gaudet field goals. Craig Davis scored on a 30-yard touchdown reception from JaMarcus Russell for one score, while quarterback Matt Flynn connected with Shawn Jordan and Paul Coryell on a pair of TDs.

Quarterback Marcus Randall directed the offense on a 9-play drive, which included a 24-yard completion to Dwayne Bowe, that was capped by a 39-yard Gaudet field goal.

Highlighting the running game was a 42-yard rush by Barrington Edwards against the No. 3 defense. Jason Spadoni added a 25-yard run for the Tigers, while Joseph Addai scored on a 1-yard run during the redzone portion of the scrimmage.

Defensively, Ronnie Prude led all defenders with eight tackles from his defensive back position, while linebacker Cameron Vaughn and defensive end Marcus Spears both added a pair of sacks. Cornerback Travis Daniels and defensive back Nick Child each intercepted a pass during the scrimmage.

Friday's scrimmage marked the first of three for LSU this spring. The Tigers will take next week of for spring break before holding their second scrimmage on April 17. The annual Spring Game is set for 1 p.m. on April 24 in Tiger Stadium.

- LSU Sports Information provided statistical data


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