For the first time this fall, the media observed the freshmen and varsity Tigers run side-by-side in a morning workout.
Offensively, coordinators Gary Crowton and DJ McCarthy worked the quarterbacks and receivers out in two groups for most of the session. Jordan Jefferson was paired with Russell Shepard, while Jarrett Lee was paired with Chris Garrett.
The story here is the same as it was in the spring. Jarrett Lee throws the best ball on the team, though Jefferson’s accuracy and timing has improved tremendously over the summer. The group worked on a number of intermediate passing routes from both the shotgun and under center, where all four quarterbacks looked strong.
Brandon LaFell continues to lead the way at receiver, though the strides Terrance Toliver has made since the 2008 season are visible. The Hempstead, Texas-native finally added some solid muscle to his frame, and his hands are right up there with LaFell’s for the best of the bunch. Add to the mix Rueben Randle, who is already 6-foot-3 and over 200 pounds, and the receiving corps is – for my money - the strongest in the Southeastern Conference.
Offensive line coach Greg Studrawa’s unit will go a long way in determining how successful the passing game can be, and thus far the group looks strong. T-Bob Hebert and PJ Lonergan have been stuck in a battle for the center spot, with Hebert getting the first team reps on Tuesday. Lyle Hitt and Joe Barksdale lined up to his right and Josh Dworaczyk and Ciron Black to his left. From observations and comments made by the staff, it is safe to say that the aforementioned five are the hopeful starting unit come kickoff against Washington.
Coordinator Larry Porter ran his running backs through drills in the following order: Charles Scott, Richard Murphy, Keiland Williams and Michael Ford. The fullbacks were Stevan Ridley, Richard Dugas and Dominique Allen.
While it goes without saying that Scott will get his touches, it will be interesting to watch the development of Ford. The Leesville-native looks the part of an SEC back through the opening week, but will that warrant him playing time with Murphy, Williams and Holliday all looking for touches?
Defensively, John Chavis lined up his starting eleven on a number of pursuit drills. As expected, the front line was made up of Rahim Alem, Al Woods, Drake Nevis and Pep Levingston. Chavis’ linebackers were Perry Riley and Kelvin Sheppard on the outsides, with Jacob Cutrera getting reps in the middle.
The surprises, however, came in the secondary. Patrick Peterson was running with Jai Eugene at cornerback, with Brandon Taylor at strong safety and Chad Jones at free safety. The coaching staff has made mention that Eugene is having his best offseason since arriving at LSU, which is reason to believe that the Destrehan standout will be in and out of the spot with Chris Hawkins and Peterson throughout the season.
Taylor has been one of the candidates for cross training at cornerback and safety, which is why defensive backs coach Ron Cooper had him running with the ones on Tuesday. Karnell Hatcher and Ron Brooks are also getting looks at strong safety, so expect to see each of them to be running with the first team at some point over the next couple of weeks. If the season started tomorrow and Taylor started at strong, it would be a toss up for number two between Brooks and Hatcher. At free safety, Danny McCray continues to get looks behind Jones.