Tigers go through second scrimmage

LSU conducted their second scrimmage of spring practice on Saturday in Tiger Stadium. <br><br> With only one week left of practice before the April 24 spring game, Nick Saban and the coaching staff have been experimenting with some position changes. According to Saban this led to a few mental breakdowns during the scrimmage, but overall the coach said he was pleased with the intensity of his team.

What we saw (and thought):

-Lets get right into it and tackle the quarterback competition. Saban quipped that all three signal-callers showed playmaking ability, and in truth that wasn't totally coachspeak. All three quarterbacks had their ups and downs. The passing game in general was a little off, with a few route-mix ups and problems picking up the blitz.

The red jerseys came off the QBs on Saturday, and the defense took full advantage of having that obstacle removed. Marcus Randall, Matt Flynn and Jamarcus Russell all took their lumps, though Russell managed to dish out a big hit by leveling Jessie Daniels on a scramble.

Russell also drew a few oohs and aahs from the crowd in attendance with a 66-yard touchdown pass to Barrington Edwards. With a defender draped on his back he managed to fling a side-armed ball to Edwards over the middle. Edwards cut across the field, turned the corner and took the ball up the sideline for six. Don't get too excited though folks, it was against the third-team defense.

Randall also had another 2002 Auburn moment with an early interception. Randall badly under-threw a wide-open Skyler Green, tossing the ball right into the waiting arms of Daniel Francis. Another one came later on when he fired a pass too high for Gino Giambelluca. Corey Webster snatched the ball and ran it back for a touchdown.

-Saban himself got a little taste of live-fire during the two minute drill. The coach was standing a few yards behind the offense on a play, when Doug Planchard's shotgun snap sailed right over Matt Flynn's head and right at him. Saban grabbed the ball and lobbed it to Flynn, who scrambled away from some pressure and hit Terrell Clayton for a big gain.

"What that remind you of though," Saban joked with a proud smile. "Shortstop behind the second base, turning two. They flagged me on it though, they said it was two illegal forward passes."

-The Tiger running backs looked quite impressive. Justin Vincent continues to show the quickness and speed he ran with down the stretch in 2003, but Alley Broussard is going to push for a lot of carries also. Broussard ran for two touchdowns in the scrimmage, one on a 28-yard run where he gashed the defense straight up the middle virtually untouched. Broussard also impressed on a catch and run out of the backfield dragging a group of defenders seven or eight yards before he was dragged down.

-Rudy Niswanger missed the scrimmage to take the M-CAT medical school entrance exam. Reserve guard Garret Wibel was the main beneficiary of Niswanger's absence, seeing a bulk of reps with both the first and second team offensive lines.

-Brandon Washington saw work at both guard and tackle after being moved from defensive line earlier this week. He was thrown into the fire quickly at right tackle against Marcus Spears. Spears did have another big game with 2 sacks and several tackles for a loss, but Washington did manage to hold his own against the All-SEC defensive end a few times. He received praise from Saban after the scrimmage, who said Washington looks like somebody who could play and possibly start down the line.

-Speaking of position changes Melvin Oliver's move inside to tackle may have been made out of necessity to get sophomore Kirston Pittman in the starting lineup. Pittman showed great speed and aggressiveness as a pass rusher, and also surprising strength in the run game.

-Claude Wroten continues to impress at defensive tackle. The 300-pounder tossed Ben Wilkerson around a few times in pass-rushing drills before the scrimmage, and had a sack during the scrimmage. Despite his size Wroten's strength appears to be shedding blocks with quickness rather than power.

-There's a very good chance that Eric Alexander's vacant "sam" linebacker position may be filled by a freshman. Ali Highsmith and Darius Ingram both saw most of the first-team reps at the position. Ingram brings more size to the job, but Highsmith is clearly the faster player.

-The kicking game showed some improvement from the last scrimmage. Still, both Chris Jackson and Ryan Gaudet can't seem to find consistency on kickoffs or field goals. Both players' kickoffs were short and usually a little too close to the sidelines for comfort. Gaudet missed a fifty yard attempt on two consecutive kicks, and then later bounced in a 39-yarder off the crossbar. Jackson made a 48 and a 37-yarder. Saban says part of the reason for the field goal problems has been a lack of a consistent holder. Skyler Green, Joe Lawrence and Matt Flynn have all worked has a holder during the spring.

Patrick Fisher improved on his punts a little, but still has work to do. Most of his kicks were line drives with very little hangtime, but Fisher does a good job of aiming his kicks and benefited from some good bounces. One kick landed right at the four-yard line and stopped dead in its tracks. He'll be pushed by Jackson though, who banged out a nice punt late in the scrimmage out of his own endzone.

-Injury Report: Offensive lineman Will Arnold came up limping early in the practice and suffered an ankle sprain. X-rays were negative. Carnell Stewart suffered a shoulder injury and Craig Davis injured his patella tendon. Saban said he did not believe either were serious but that X-rays were pending.

Saban Says: "We ran the ball well, and a couple of the running backs looked pretty good," Saban said. "Justin made some good runs, Alley made some good runs, Shyrone made some good runs. Barrington Edwards even made some good runs when he got the opportunity. It was the plan today, because we're a little bit short in numbers at receiver, not to run Joseph Addai that as a runner, but really work him a lot as a receiver, so that's really what we tried to do."

"The first defense was a little bit better in terms of the discipline and intensity they played with," Saban added. "I think the toughness and the hitting out there was better today."

"I was little bit disappointed that we took a step back in throwing the football, in terms of the timing and effectiveness that we need. In terms of the route-runners running the routes the way they need to be run, the protection being what it needs to be, and the quarterbacks kind of bringing it all together by making good decisions and judgments as to where they deliver the ball when they do it."

"We made the quarterbacks live for the first time, probably since I've been a head coach, because I thought the young guys were holding the ball. After a year of being on the scout team and not playing in the game, last week they were just holding the ball oblivious to people running free in the A-gap on blitzes that we don't have picked up. The only way they're going to learn how to handle the blitz is to know that there's a price you have to pay when you don't deliver the ball like you're supposed to."

"I thought there were more players on both sides of the ball that played better football for longer in this scrimmage than the last one. Some of the younger guys showed a little more promise today."

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