Note: Jeremy Kenny covered the offense while Shea Dixon covered the defense.
After spending the last two days in the friendly confines of the indoor field, the Tigers were back outside for Thursday afternoon's practice.
There were no unexpected players missing on either side of the ball. T-Bob Hebert was in a green non-contact jersey, while Stevan Ridley was in street clothes on the sidelines. He had a sleeve on his right knee and was walking around normally with no crutches.
The quarterbacks continued to look impressive throwing the ball. Jordan Jefferson took all the reps as the #1 quarterback again, but he continues to be pushed by Jarrett Lee.
Chris Garrett continues to look like he's been at LSU for more than 3 months, and Russell Shepard has shown noticeable improvement from the first practice in his timing and mechanics. The ball comes out of his hand much cleaner now than it was before.
After throwing the fade routes to receivers to start practice, the quarterbacks split into two groups and worked on timing routes with the receivers. Jefferson was paired with Shepard, and Lee with Garrett. The two groups switched back and forth from the left and right sides to throw to the receivers on each side.
Then they went to the running backs and worked on shotgun read handoffs, as well as throwing the ball out of the backfield. After that they moved to the tight ends to work on short and intermediate routes over the middle.
The running backs were joined once again by Trindon Holliday. It appears Holliday may be sticking with the unit this spring if for no other reason than to take Ridley's reps in the drills.
As the receivers worked with the quarterbacks, they split into the W, X, Y, and Z positions, with everyone rotating around into each spot. Like the quarterbacks, the receivers continue to look very sharp running routes and catching balls.
After they finished with the quarterbacks, Coach McCarthy had them work on cone agility drills to improve their breaks in their routes. After those drills, they lined up three across and worked on blocking drills. They would have to recognize what type of defense they were seeing, and then assign a blocker to each defender in the middle of the play.
Obviously this drill required lots of communication and understanding of your assignments, and a few of the younger guys seemed to have some trouble picking it up.
Before they went to catch balls from the quarterbacks, Coach Yanowksy had the tight ends working on their one on one blocking. The blockers would have to explode out to their defender from under a cage to make sure they stayed low. Richard Dickson and Mitch Joseph ran as the first tight ends throughout practice, followed by Tyler Edwards and Matt Branch, then Alex Russian and Deangelo Peterson.
Coach Stud had the offensive linemen hitting the sled for a while in practice. What was really impressive about this is usually the lineman themselves would ask if they could take an extra rep, instead of Coach Stud having to tell them to. This shows that they are to the point now where they recognize what they are doing wrong, and then taking the initiative to fix it themselves.
After they were done on the sled, they split into three-man groups to work on run blocking. Hebert lined up as the center for the left side, and Will Blackwell the center for the right side. Hebert has been in a green non-contact jersey for every practice thus far, but he goes through every drill and rep completely and never shows any sign of injury.
The defensive units welcomed the running backs to the workouts on Thursday.
Defensive coordinator John Chavis worked the group out with his linebackers, focused primarily around one on one situations where the linebacker is working to get downfield.
Kelvin Shepard worked on Keiland Williams, and Shepard absolutely blew by the Tiger running back a number of times. Chavis brought Williams back into action after one particular instance to give him additional blocking instructions, and the Lafayette native took back to the playing field with a lot of fire.
I am definitely excited with what I have seen from the linebacker group so far under The Chief, because the intensity level is one that was not present last August as the Tigers took to fall camp.
The corps joined with the defensive line later in the scrimmage, where Chavis, Brick Haley and special teams coordinator Joe Robinson ran the group through drills with five down linemen.
The Tigers worked, from left to right, with Rahim Alem, Drake Nevis, Al Woods, Charles Alexander and Pep Levingston. Perry Riley and Jacob Cutrera worked as the two linebackers, with Shepard and Kevin Minter rotating in.
Many have wondered about the development of Woods, and I liked what I saw from the senior on the afternoon. He looks to be in the best shape he has been in since arriving to LSU, a change that should look to take him a long way in his quest to anchor the middle of the Tiger line.
Sidell Corley has been quiet since arriving with the Tigers, but his development is beginning to show. I got an eye on the Mobile native as he worked alone with Haley, and he seemed to have toned up his frame significantly since getting a look at him in Atlanta. Look for the sophomore to perhaps make some noise as the spring progresses.
The cornerbacks and safeties worked on strip drills once more. Patrick Peterson and Chris Hawkins led the way, followed by Jai Brandon Taylor and Jai Eugene. Harry Coleman and Chad Jones filled the two safety spots, with Danny McCray stepping in as well.
Taylor looks the part of a cornerback who is SEC ready, which adds a somewhat unexpected candidate to the race for the third cornerback spot. Eugene, Ron Brooks and Taylor are all in the mix, so the coming weeks should continue to bring out the best in each.
While it looks like Taylor is making a run now, I like what I have seen from Eugene and Brooks all along. I expect the two to hold off Taylor when it comes to getting on the field in the fall, but there is plenty of time between now and then to allow that to play out on its own.