Note: David Helman covered the LSU defense, while Jeremy Kenny watched the offense.
Linebacker Shomari Clemons was in a green non-contact jersey today, while cornerback Chris Hawkins wasn't at practice. The rest of the defense was present, accounted for and healthy with the exception of Kellen Theriot, Stefoin Francois and Kentravis Aubrey.
There were no players of note missing from today's practice on the offensive side of the ball. T-Bob Hebert continued to practice in a green non-contact jersey.
I got my first look at the LSU linebackers today, and it was good to see the little differences in the way John Chavis conducts his practices. Chavis is very loud and unafraid to get in his players' faces. Not to say he is constantly yelling, but he lets guys know when they screw up.
The ‘backers did basic agility drills either solo or in pairs. Like yesterday, Chavis had them working on back pedaling, hip movement and picking off the pass. Kelvin Sheppard and Perry Riley worked as the first pair, with Clemons and Jacob Cutrera behind them. Ryan Baker and Ace Foyil went as the third teamers.
Chavis also had them working with medicine balls, which was new for me. The guys worked in the same order, deflecting medicine balls thrown by assistants.
The defensive line worked in the same units of Rahim Alem, Drake Nevis, Al Woods and Lazarius Levingston, followed by Sidell Corley, Cordian Hagans, Chancey Aghayere and Chase Clement. Aghayere did some defensive tackle duty to fill in for Alexander.
So far, Coach Haley's practices are the most similar to last year. That's not to say that the coaching styles are the same, but the defensive line's drills are a little more set and a little more routine. It will be interesting to see how Coach Haley establishes himself as the D-line coach. As Shea can attest, Haley has no problem getting vocal to the same degree as Coach Stud for the O-line.
Hawkins' absence shifted things up a bit for the D-backs. Whereas Hawkins was a No. 1 cornerback yesterday, his absence pushed Brandon Taylor past Jai Eugene onto the first team. In full unit drills, the first team was Taylor and Patrick Peterson at cornerback with Harry Coleman and Chad Jones in the safety spots. Second team was Ron Brooks and Eugene at corner with Danny McCray and Karnell Hatcher at safety. The team got a small amount of work as a full unit. It was Phelon Jones and R.J. Gillen getting work at cornerback, while Ryan St. Julien and Rocky Duplessis worked at safety. It was a slightly odd group, but maybe the coaches are experimenting with the youngsters.
It's also fun to see how Coach Cooper's drills differ from Coach Mallory's old routines. A lot of it is obviously the same – pass breakups and backpedal mechanics (which Peterson seems to excel at every single rep) obviously, but Cooper has his assistants constantly coaching the guys that aren't running reps, which has to be good for the development of the non-starters.
On the offensive side of the ball, Jordan Jefferson had a much better practice this afternoon than he did yesterday. His timing and accuracy were better with his receivers, and whatever problem he was having with his release yesterday seems to be fixed. Russell Shepard also looked a little more comfortable throwing the ball today, although he is still clearly behind the other three quarterbacks.
Jarrett Lee had another very good practice this afternoon throwing the ball. In the first two days he has looked the most comfortable and confident of all the quarterbacks. He actually shared reps with Jefferson as the #1 quarterback today after Jefferson got most of those reps yesterday. Chris Garrett was impressive again today as well. Watching him for the first two days of practice, you would not know he's only been on campus a few months.
At running back, for the second day in a row Richard Murphy was running as the #2 tailback behind Charles Scott, with Keiland Williams and Stevan Ridley following Murphy. Murphy was very impressive last spring, and it looks like he may be heading for another strong spring showing this year. Williams looks like he may be a little thicker than he was last season. Charles Scott returns as the starter and leader of the group, and he demonstrates this in practice by encouraging his teammates during drills and making sure everyone hustles from one drill to the next.
As we mentioned yesterday, the offensive line from left to right appears to be Ciron Black, Josh Dworacyzk, T-Bob Hebert, Lyle Hitt and Joseph Barksdale, followed by Greg Shaw, Thomas Parsons, Will Blackwell, Clay Spencer, and Alex Hurst. Will Blackwell also takes reps at left guard during drills, and it's possible he may be the primary backup at left guard ahead of Parsons. After the first two days it doesn't appear PJ Lonergan will be very involved in the plans for the offensive line this spring.
Coach Stud had the linemen working on run blocking this afternoon, especially getting out to the second level defenders. He watched each player closely on each rep making sure they stayed low. After one of Hitt's reps through the drill, Coach Stud said that was the form Hitt used on every knock down block he got last year, then made a joke about Hitt's height which drew a laugh from everyone around.
The tight ends worked with the offensive line on run blocking drills for a little while before heading over to the quarterbacks to work on pass catching. Richard Dickson and Mitch Joseph are the first two tight ends, followed Tyler Edwards and Alex Russian, then Deangelo Peterson and Matt Branch. Peterson seems to be embracing the move to tight end, and he obviously stood out in the pass catching drills, nabbing a few errant passes the others couldn't reel in.
The wide receivers got into their normal drills much more today and ran a variety of different routes, including slants, curls, comebacks, and outs. They split into X and Z groups today. Brandon Lafell led the group of Z receivers, followed by Chris Mitchell, John Williams, and Tim Molton. Terrance Toliver led the Z receivers, followed by RJ Jackson, Chris Tolliver, and Jhyryn Taylor.
All of the receivers have looked very good catching the ball the first two days, especially considering some of the throws they are getting from the quarterbacks. In fact I don't think I recall any of the scholarship players dropping a single pass either today or yesterday. Some of the walk-ons are having trouble with their timing and holding onto the ball though. Every time a player drops a pass they have to do pushups, and one player dropped enough passes to lead Coach McCarthy to tell him he won't have to worry about working out the rest of the week with all the pushups he's done.