Note: David Helman observed the offense, while Jeremy Kenny watched the defense.
It went from being a dusty Tuesday to a swampy Thursday at the LSU practice facility.
I’m sure everyone already knows about the damage done to the Tigers’ indoor facility, but it looked pretty bad out there. The roof was peeled back in places like the lid on a cup of yogurt, and big patches of the fence were missing.
Anyway, on to practice.
On the defensive side there were no new players missing from today’s practice. Shomari Clemons continued to practice in a green non-contact jersey. T-Bob Hebert was the only guy on offense in green today, the rest of the group was good to go.
The tailbacks started out the day with carrying drills. It’s pretty awesome watching the guys run through the gauntlet trying not to fumble the ball.
After some quick strip drills from the wide receivers, they got together with the quarterbacks for some pass-catching. The quarterbacks started with fades and moved on to out-routes and ins. Jarrett Lee went in front of Jordan Jefferson (for whatever that’s worth) on several of these, followed by Russell Shepard and Chris Garrett.
Two quarterbacks split up with the receiving corps for curl routes. Lee and Garrett worked together with a group led by Brandon LaFell and Timothy Molton, while Jefferson and Shep worked with a group led by Terrence Toliver and Chris Mitchell. At one point Jefferson rifled a pass just beyond Toliver’s reach and nearly knocked out a high school coach, prompting Toliver to laugh, “Damn Jordan.”
The tight ends worked on their blocking through most of the media session, and I got my first look at Deangelo Peterson as a tight end. He needs to add some bulk, but the thought of him matched up with linebackers sounds fun.
The offensive line didn’t have a very active day today — most of it was covering assignments and “What if” situations. The first team got a long session with Coach Stud — it was comprised of Joseph Barksdale, Lyle Hitt, Hebert, Josh Dworaczyk and Ciron Black.
The rest of the O-line’s work was one-on-one, until they joined the rest of the offense at the end of the media session.
The tailbacks came back from working with the linebackers to get in some time with the quarterbacks. I got to see a glimpse of Russell Shepard’s famous personality as he joked and danced with the entire backfield before drills started.
The work was mostly just handoff timing and placement. Ranging from dives to counters and tosses, Charles Scott, Keiland Williams and even Trindon Holliday got work coming out of a non-shotgun formation.
When that was done, the tight ends got their chance with the quarterbacks. Basically the big guys were just running curl routes coming off the end of a makeshift offensive line. Offensive coordinator Gary Crowton was stressing the importance of reading the middle linebacker when throwing to a tight end. Mitch Joseph went first with Richard Dickson, while Peterson and Matt Branch went next. Alex Russian and T.C. McCartney went third, with Ronnie Turpin and Tyler Edwards rounding out the group.
I got a rare look at the special teams units today also, although not much. They were on the far side of the complex working on punts. I caught a glimpse of Josh Jasper and Andrew Crutchfield booming punts downfield, though not much else.
Coach Brick Haley had the defensive line starting practice working on getting off the ball. Rahim Alem, Drake Nevis, Al Woods, and Sidell Corley were the first unit in this drill. Chase Clement, Cordian Hagans, Charles Alexander, and Chancey Aghayere were the second unit, and Lavar Edwards ran with the third. Pep Levingston did not come out of the locker room until after this drill was completed, but he appeared to just be arriving late, not injured.
After that the linemen got a plyometric ball and shuffled down a line for about 20 yards in pairs rolling the ball back and forth to each other. The drill was designed to help make sure they stayed low with a good center of gravity. Next they went to a thud tackling drill for wrapping up the ball carrier. Chancey Aghayere seemed to be trying to make up for lost time as you could tell he was moving faster and hitting harder than the others from the sound of his thuds. After that the line split into ends and tackles for the rest of practice. Coach Joe Robinson had the tackles working on double teams, while the ends worked on pass rushing with Haley.
The linebackers worked with the running backs again, trying to rush past them and get to the quarterback. Perry Riley, Kelvin Sheppard and Jacob Cutrera continue to work with the first team, and the second unit continues to get shuffled around with Kevin Minter, Shomari Clemons, Kyle Prater, Ryan Baker, and Ace Foyil getting reps.
After this defensive coordinator/linebackers coach John Chavis had them work on a drill to avoid cut blocks. The linebacker would line up on one side, and three others would line up on the other as an offensive lineman, tight end and running back. The offensive lineman and the tight end would dive in front of the linebacker. He would have to elude them, then regain his control and square up to tackle the running back. They weren’t going full speed because a drill like this could obviously result in serious lower body injury, but Chavis commended everyone for their footwork and balance during the drill. After that drill they went to work on covering the running backs out of the backfield in passes again.
Defensive backs coach Ron Cooper had the defensive backs forming two lines on each side of the field. They had to back pedal for a certain distance then a ball would be thrown and they would have to turn and run for the ball, then jump and catch it at its highest point. After a few rounds of this, the cornerbacks went off with a grad assistant while Cooper kept the safeties. He had them working in pairs to diagnose and react to plays.
Chad Jones and Harry Coleman were the first pair, followed by Danny McCray and Karnell Hatcher, then Ron Brooks and Rockey Duplessis. The safeties would have to keep their eyes on the quarterback (Cooper) during their back pedal, then if he pulled the ball up to pass they had to break towards the sideline while continuing to watch him, and if he pulled the ball down to run they had to break towards the line of scrimmage. Duplessis had some trouble with keeping his eyes on the quarterback during his back pedal, and after a while Cooper told him, “Rockey I can keep telling you the same thing over and over, but you are the only one that can fix it.”
The cornerbacks paired up and did 1 on 1’s against each other as receiver and defender. Patrick Peterson was paired with Brandon Taylor, Chris Hawkins with Phelon Jones, and Jai Eugene with Derrick Bryant. The defenders seemed to have free reign to line up however they wanted, but they had to either back off or come up and press if the coach made a certain call. The coach told each defender what he did right and wrong on each rep, and emphasized to watch the receiver’s hips to determine when and where he is going to break.
When Taylor’s turn came up to defend Peterson, he lined up in press coverage. The coach told him, “I suggest you back up a little bit because you know Pat is going to try to run past you.” Taylor stood his ground, but back pedaled quickly once the ball was snapped. Peterson sold the route like he was going deep, then cut in on a slant. Taylor was nowhere near him, which drew a small reaction from everyone. I have a feeling Peterson would do just fine on the other side of the ball as a receiver, but obviously he is needed more at defensive back.
That’s all for today, but Les Miles is meeting with the media and we’ll have comments from the headman shortly.