If the spring was supposed to answer questions for the Tiger offense, the results show that not much has changed since the close of the 2008 campaign.
Jordan Jefferson, whose late-season splash made him the popular choice for the starter in 2009, looks to be just as good as he showed in the Tigers’ final two games last season.
Starting on Saturday for the White team, made up of first team players, Jefferson hit on 8-of-10 passes for 97 yards, setting up first half scores by Scott on a pair of well-thrown deep routes.
Of course, the combination of the two left head coach Les Miles feeling good about where the offense is headed.
“It is nice to see a quarterback step under center and make big throws, pick up third downs and move the football,” he said.
“And it was nice to see a veteran tailback run with strength and power. Again, our offense will be better than it has been.”
Ron Brooks got the action started for the Purple team with a 33-yard kick return to open the game.
The first drive, ironically, would see Russell Shepard take his first snaps from under center at LSU. A pleasant sight for Tiger fans waiting to see the freshman in action, Shepard was not dressed in a green non-contact jersey, leaving him open to run the football throughout the day.
His first pass would be an 18-yard completion to Tim Molton, followed by rushes of four and eight yards.
Filling the void at kicker left by Colt David, junior Josh Jasper would miss the 50-yard field goal attempt to end the drive.
Jefferson would put together a five-play, 13-yard drive on his opening snaps, turning the ball back over to Shepard and Co.
After a pair of incomplete passes by the Houston native, Jefferson was able to take the ball back and march the Purple team 71 yards on six plays for the touchdown.
The highlight of the drive would come from the arm of the Tiger gunslinger, seeing the sophomore throw a 28-yard strike to Brandon LaFell to put the ball at the three-yard line.
Scott would punch the ball in on the following play, giving the White team the early 7-0 lead.
The second quarter saw Jarrett Lee take his first snaps for the White team, hitting on 2-of-3 passes for 19 yards. His biggest throw on the day came on his second drive of the quarter, hitting Terrance Toliver across the middle for a 19-yard gain.
Scott would reel off back-to-back 5-yard runs before punching the ball in from the 1-yard line, putting the Tigers ahead 14-0 on the senior’s second score on the day.
Chris Garrett, making his freshman debut, drove the Tigers 51 yards on 4-of-7 passes to counter the score before being intercepted by Perry Riley. Riley returned the ball 37 yards to the LSU White team 20-yard line.
However, running back Patrick Lipoma would give the ball right back on a fumble recovered by Harry Coleman, effectively ending the action in the second half.
Scott finished the half as the game’s leading rusher, carrying the ball eight times for 42 yards with a pair of scores.
Shepard led the way for the opposition, carrying the ball five times for 20 yards.
He completed on 4-of-7 passes for 38 yards, while Garrett hit on 6-of-11 passes for 45 yards.
Standout freshman Tim Molton led the way for the Purple team with two catches for 35 yards, while Toliver’s two grabs for 29 yards led the way for the opposition.
The second half would be played with a running clock, leaving the two teams with three possessions each.
Jefferson hit on 5-of-6 passes to move the White team out of the halftime gates in a hurry, setting up an 8-yard touchdown run by Richard Murphy. Murphy made the second-half switch after starting the game at running back for the Purple team.
Shepard took to the field first in the second, recording positive gains on four runs and two passes to open the drive.
Yet, a Pep Levingston sack resulted in a fumble at the White 46-yard line, sending Shepard back to the bench until the game’s final possession.
Scott and Murphy reeled off 20- and 26-yard runs, respectively, to open the final quarter for the White team, yet a Jefferson fumble at the Purple 23-yard line ended the drive.
Patrick Peterson, who had a breakout freshman campaign for the Tigers at cornerback, intercepted the game’s final pass, thrown by Shepard, and returned it 69 yards for the touchdown as the game clock expired, ending the scoring at 27-0.
The White team led the way in nearly every statistical category, recording 16 first downs on 121 yards rushing and 120 yards passing.
Jefferson hit on 8-of-10 passes for 97 yards while Lee connected on 3-of-6 passes for 23 yards.
Garrett finished 8-of-14 passing for 49 yards while Shepard hit on 7-of-12 passes for 70 yards. Both freshman quarterbacks recorded an interception.
All in all, Miles said that the performance has him expecting the unit to be much improved come the fall.
“Offensively we certainly didn’t have great quarterback play last year, and I think our quarterbacks will play with more confidence,” he said. “The receiving corps will step up, and our four receivers will be better than a year ago.
“It was an imperfect day to judge the quarterbacks, but I like where we are at.”
Chad Jones led the way for the White team defensively with six sacks, four solo, for a loss of four yards. Perry Riley led the way at linebacker with five total tackles.
Chris Hawkins recorded six tackles for the Purple team, with Ace Foyil matching his production from the linebacker spot.
Ron Brooks, who was making his safety debut, recorded three tackles on the day. The Dallas native also recorded 77 yards on three kickoff returns.
With the spring now in the rearview, Miles said that the session was a job well done.
“All said, the day was good, and I think in the spring we made key advances in significant areas,” he said. “We’re not ready to play a game just yet, but we’re well on our way.”