LSU lacking consistency in first scrimmage

After a little more than a week since reporting to fall camp, the LSU Tiger football team went through its first organized scrimmage in Tiger Stadium Tuesday afternoon.

As always, head coach Nick Saban knew it would not be the smoothest of workouts being the first time the team was in a game-type situation. However, Saban alluded to several strengths of the day's workout as well as some shortcomings.

"I would say for the first scrimmage that there were a lot of good things out there on the field," Saban said. "There was some good hitting and some good hustling. We were primarily looking for guys who would go out there and compete. We know there are some young guys out there who are going to make mistakes, but we didn't want them to worry about messing up, but focus on create things they are capable of creating by playing hard, being aggressive. I saw some players do that today."

The cooler temperatures of the weekend faded away as the thermometer reached the lower 90s in the Baton Rouge area on Tuesday. Heat, Saban said, along with fatigue can cause a lack of focus and consistency.

"I didn't think our consistency was where it needed to be probably in any part of what we did," Saban said. "Offensively, I didn't think we ran the ball as well as I thought we might or could relative to our offensive line and running backs. We threw it okay at times. We made a few big plays that were kind of broken plays. But we really didn't throw the ball with the consistency that we need to on offense.

"Defensively, we had a couple of mental lapses and gave up a couple of big plays. But I thought that we played okay at times, but in the red area we didn't get them stopped and on the goal line we didn't get them stopped."

Saban said he was frustrated with the fact he had to get upset at the team to spark the fire with which he wants his team to play.

"I would have been happier had I not had to try and get them to them play by raising all kinds of cane in the beginning to get them to get their spirit level and energy level up to where it needed to be," Saban said.

Saban caused quite a stir when he said at media day on Sunday he was considering taking the red (non-contact) jerseys off the quarterbacks allowing them to be hit due to the fact they were not getting the ball off quick enough. The quarterbacks remained in red jerseys for Tuesday's scrimmage and Saban said he felt like the Tiger signal callers were sacked too many times.

"The passing game wasn't what it needed to be, but it wasn't just about them (quarterbacks)," Saban said. "We got sacked too many times. We got pressured too many times. We had too many dropped balls. As I said so many times before, being an effective passing team is about the whole team. It is not just about the quarterback. He throws it, but he has to be protected. We have to handle the blitz and we have to catch the ball with consistency."

Saban did take time to compliment the play of punters Patrick Fisher and Chris Jackson and all facets of the LSU special teams.

"I think most parts of the special teams were encouraging," Saban said. "We have good skill players and good specialists. We are a little worried about some of the young players there, but today should have been a confidence builder for them."

On the defensive side of the ball, Saban praised the play of several linebackers, including more accolades for junior college transfer E.J. Kuale, who many think will start at Sam Linebacker.

"At linebacker, some guys caught my eye today that we really hadn't been watching," Saban said. "E.J. Kuale and Kenny Hollis had a good scrimmage. Quinn Johnson, who is a freshman, didn't know where he was supposed to lineup, when we turned the ball over, he was going 90 miles and hour. That tells me we have to find a place for him to play this season."

Saban talked candidly about the play of Joseph Addai. The starting tailback a year, Addai was bumped out of the No. 1 spot by Justin Vincent and has been seeing split time at running back and wide receiver.

"He (Addai) is still doing both (running back and receiver)," Saban said. "He is a doing a good job running the ball, but is improving as a wide receiver. He is a big-bodied guy who makes catches even when he is covered close. Dwayne Bowe is a lot like that as well."

As for the quarterback race, Marcus Randall took 75-percent of the snaps with the first team, while JaMarcus Russell received 25-percents of the reps with the one's. Russell and Matt Flynn split all the snaps with the second unit.

Defensive end Melvin Oliver had his day in court on charges for simple battery. Saban said he had not spoken with Oliver since Tuesday morning's hearing and wouldn't act on anything until he meets with the junior defensive end.

"I did not speak with him," Saban said. "I don't know what happened and I won't do anything until I talk to him. Unless the guy is convicted of some sort of felony, he has done everything we asked of him this summer in terms of community service. At Michigan State, I once suspended a player for three games who wasn't convicted because I thought that he had done it. Melvin is a player who has been in our program for four years and has done everything we have asked him to do. He is a player I believe in."

An injury update, sophomore Jessie Daniels sat out for the second straight day with a sprained ankle. True freshman Craig Steltz and Herman Johnson did not scrimmage and redshirt freshman offensive lineman Will Arnold sat out with a mild concussion.

"Will got banged in the head yesterday and missed today's scrimmage with a mild concussion," Saban said. "We were really anxious to see his scrimmage because he has developed confidence and plays physical. He is a guy you have who you could see starting for your team."

The Tigers return to practice with a 3 p.m. workout on Wednesday followed by a pair of practices on Thursday. LSU's final scrimmage of fall camp will take place next Tuesday.

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