Murphy's coming out party

It was not so much Tiger Stadium as it was Richard Murphy's personal play ground Saturday at the LSU Spring Game. The red shirt freshman starred in a score-fest as LSU's white team blew past the purple team 38-10.

Murphy ran the ball 11 times for a total of 145 yards and two touchdowns, and added another 52 yards and a touchdown through the air.


“I felt like I’ve improved a lot since last year,” Murphy said. “Sitting on my behind watching Jacob Hester play and the way he ran the position made me work harder and I feel that helped me a lot.”


Keiland Williams started the game for the white team, which comprised the majority of the Tigers’ first-team guys, but Murphy got his chance when Williams fumbled the ball away inside the purple team’s ten yard line.


“I told myself this morning that whatever chance I get, I’m going to make the most of it,” Murphy said.


Murphy showed flashes of Jacob Hester as he bowled over Stefoin Francois at the goal line for his first touchdown, and displayed his speed in the second quarter as he raced along the sideline for a 70 yard score. His final touchdown of the night may have been more familiar to Tigers fans, as he took a swing pass from Jarrett Lee outside, then cut inside and ran 52 yards to the end zone.


“Murphy was very loose and very fast,” head coach Les Miles said. “He had a strong showing.”


The passing game was also on display as Andrew Hatch and Jarrett Lee took turns leading each offense to pay dirt.


Hatch played impressively in the first half, going 8-10 for 132 yards with touchdown passes to Jared Mitchell and Brandon LaFell.


Lee struggled early on, completing 4 of 9 for just 57 yards. The highlight was a 60 yard pass from Hatch to Demetrius Byrd in which Byrd adjusted to the ball and proceeded to elude the safety and cornerback as he ran for thirty extra yards.


But Lee found his groove in the second half. On the second play of the third quarter, he hit Byrd in stride for a 57 yard touchdown. Byrd led all receivers on the day with 132 yards to go with his two touchdowns.


Lee finished 7 of 13 for 181 and two touchdowns, while Hatch went 13 of 17 for 184 and two touchdowns. 


“You can’t compare the quarterbacks,” Byrd said. “Each one has a different style and approach to each different play. They are all good at making plays, that’s what we ask.”


The kicking game accounted for the remaining points. Colt David handled the extra points for both teams, and went 1-4 on field goals for the white team. He missed from 34, 51, and 48, and converted from 23. Andrew Crutchfield added the purple team’s lone field goal from 42 yards.


As the score indicates, the white team defense dominated throughout. The defensive line neutralized the run game, as Ricky Jean-Francois notched five tackles and Tyson Jackson added three tackles and a sack.  Kelvin Sheppard added several stuffs, and had a deflected a pass.


Miles was happy with the performance, but noted his defense’s many injuries.


“There really wasn’t a full contingent of linebackers, and I felt the defense would have played better if the linebackers had been intact,” Miles said. “I think they did well anyway. Kelvin Sheppard and Darry Beckwith made some plays.”


In the secondary, Danny McCray led the way with six tackles while Curtis Taylor accounted for the lone interception. Hatch rolled right under pressure late in the third quarter and lofted a prayer that landed right in Taylor’s arms. Taylor would have added a second interception of TC McCartney, but the play was called back due to a roughing the passer penalty.


The final attendance for the game was 33,624 which was one of the better spring game crowds LSU has drawn in many years.


The fans may not have gotten to see a complete game but they saw enough to know this team is full of playmakers and has a chance to be very good in 2008.


“I felt like the spring game was incomplete, not necessarily exactly what we wanted,” Miles said. “But considering it was divided teams with good players on both sides we felt like we got a lot accomplished. We felt like the young quarterbacks came in and did things we asked them to do.


“All in all, it was a good spring game with quality snaps. It was an opportunity to get a little bit better. The quality of execution was not game-like, but now we can put the team together and give us a great summer. I look forward to taking this team to the field in the fall.”


Spring Awards


At the game’s conclusion, the coaching staff gave out off-season awards. Awards for outstanding off-season performance went to Lyle Hitt, R.J. Jackson, Quinn Johnson, Caleb Angelle, Danny McCray, Rahim Alem, Ricky Dixon, Kelvin Sheppard, and Richard Murphy.


The team’s Iron Man Awards went to Herman Johnson, Ciron Black, Curtis Taylor, Brandon LaFell, and R.J. Jackson.


Awards for spring leadership on offense went to Richard Dickson, Charles Scott, and Herman Johnson. Leadership awards for the defense were given to Darry Beckwith and Ricky Jean-Francois.


Outstanding performance for a player on defense was awarded to Chad Jones, while outstanding performance for an offensive player was Richard Murphy.


The most improved award was given to Tremaine Johnson, Brady Dalfrey, and Joe Barksdale, while the Jimmy Taylor Award for leadership, effort, and performance was given to Brett Helms and Tyson Jackson.

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