The Tigers practiced in full pads on Wednesday, with Chancey Aghayere and Cordian Hagans in green. Players of note that were missing were Trindon Holliday, Josh Downs and Tahj Jones.
Jones was in LSU sweats and wearing a sling on his arm, while Downs was in LSU shorts and a shirt as he worked alone on drills away from the rest of the defensive line. Holliday was not in attendance.
As usual, the stable of running backs were Charles Scott, Keiland Williams, Richard Murphy, Mike Ford and Drayton Calhoun. Larry Porter’s fullbacks were Stevan Ridley, Dominique Allen, Richard Dugas and James Stampley.
Ridley’s summer surgery following his ACL tear in the spring has turned out great results as the sophomore is already running strong this fall – way ahead of his estimated recovery time. Add Dugas’ spring injury into the mix, and it is understood why the arrival of Allen in early June saw so much anticipation. Yet, watch out for Stampley (walk on) and even Tyler Edwards to join the mix, for head coach Les Miles has yet to peg any name as the leader of the group.
Newcomer Chris Garrett, who Miles hopes to redshirt in 2009, broke away from the quarterback group to work with the running backs on passes out of the backfield. The Tupelo-native looks natural with everything the coaches throw his way, so it is no wonder that Miles and offensive coordinator Gary Crowton want to go ahead and put years between he and Jordan Jefferson.
The rest of the quarterbacks – Jefferson, Jarrett Lee, Russell Shepard and TC McCartney – worked with the wide receivers on timing routes.
When split into the X and Y slots, Brandon LaFell, Chris Mitchell, Jhyryn Taylor, Chris Tolliver and Rueben Randle lined up at the X, while Terrance Toliver, R.J. Jackson, Jarred Joseph and John Williams lined up at the Y.
Randle has yet to move up into the top half of the receivers during practice, but that is to be expected for a newcomer (even of Randle’s talents). The Bastrop native appears to be coming along nicely, however, as wide receivers coach DJ McCarthy often sings Randle’s praises throughout the 20 minutes that media are allowed in.
On the offensive line, coach Greg Studrawa worked the younger guys into the mix and allowed the veterans a breather on the sidelines. Studrawa kept T-Bob Hebert on the field at center (maximizing the reps for the untested sophomore), while bringing Alex Hurst and Will Blackwell in at left and right guard, respectively. Chris Faulk lined up at left tackle with Greg Shaw at right tackle.
Starters Lyle Hitt, Josh Dworaczyk, Joe Barksdale and Ciron Black were all in attendance, but not involved in the drills.
On the defensive line, Brick Haley worked out the ends and tackles separately. Drake Nevis and Al Woods were paired together as the tandem worked on inside rush techniques, while Rahim Alem, Lavar Edwards and Pep Levingston worked together on using their hands to punch off the line.
Of the group, Edwards has made the biggest splash this fall. Haley, the most vocal coach on the staff, is never hesitant to let his players know if they are doing great work or performing poorly. With Edwards, Haley usually sends praise. One thing that really stands out is the Gretna-native’s quick feet, which have helped separate him from the bunch. In the race for playing time behind Alem and Levingston, I like where Edwards stands.
The linebackers worked out in their normal set, with Kelvin Sheppard and Perry Riley on the outsides and Jacob Cutrera in the middle. Kevin Minter continues to back up Cutrera on the inside, with Harry Coleman working as the second man on the outsides.
The battle at cornerback between Chris Hawkins, Pat Peterson and Jai Eugene remains tight, which is just what secondary coach Ron Cooper wants from his group. While Peterson and Hawkins were expected to take the top two spots, Eugene has come on strong with his best offseason since arriving to LSU.
Brandon Taylor got the first team reps at strong safety once more, with Chad Jones staying in his spot at free safety. Look for Karnell Hatcher and Ron Brooks to stay in the race for the strong safety spot, for Miles said that all three are having great fall camps. Brooks and Taylor should get the passing down looks, while Hatcher (the only Tiger in the group over 200 pounds) could be used in the box as an extra defender on run plays. Expect Danny McCray to continue to work with Jones at free safety.