Another run in Tiger Stadium is in the books. The latest, a 130-play affair that featured the No. 1 units against the No. 2 units, played out much like the last.
After Saturday’s scrimmage, where Jordan Jefferson completed 16-of-24 passes for close to 200 yards and a pair of touchdowns, the sophomore and presumed starter was a cool 11-of-14 for 150 yards and a touchdown pass – a 15-yard scoring play to senior Brandon LaFell. After Jarrett Lee tossed a pair of picks in the second scrimmage, the sophomore hit on just 6-of-12 passes for 50 yards on Tuesday.
The gap between one and two, given their fall camp performances, has certainly widened.
“[Jefferson] is really growing in confidence,” said LSU head coach Les Miles. “There is nothing that you ask him to do that he is not really comfortable with, and he understands the offense so well.”
Russell Shepard stepped into the spotlight as well. The freshman connected on 3-of-4 passes for 73 yards and led all rushers with 60 yards on six carries – hands down his best performance to date.
The top three running backs met each other stride for stride. Keiland Williams finished with 40 yards on nine carries, Charles Scott with 30 yards on six carries and Richard Murphy with 30 yards on five carries. The touches even trickled down to Trindon Holliday, who totaled 30 yards on six attempts.
Moving comfortably into the No. 1 role for the first time, LaFell capped off preseason camp with another day to remember. He led all receivers with 74 yards on five receptions, while freshman Rueben Randle had four catches for 34 yards. Terrance Toliver added three catches for 38 yards while R.J. Jackson logged two receptions for 60 yards, highlighted by a 53-yard grab.
With the expected playmakers having all stepped forward during the stretch run before game day, Miles is as confident as you will find him this time of year.
“I feel like our team’s coming,” Miles said. “The offense answered the call.
“The guys have made some real improvement,” he continued. “Any time you go into a period of time where you have to mature your team, to me, it’s improvement that must take place. I think the team has practiced awfully hard in this camp, and I think across the board and individually, there is a lot of improvement.”
On the defensive side, outside linebacker Perry Riley led the charge with five stops and a pair of sacks. Harry Coleman added four tackles, which included a tackle for a loss and a sack.
Pep Levingston made his presence felt for the first time since breaking his hand. The junior worked with a cast, but progress was not slowed.
“Pep played the entire scrimmage,” Miles said. “He made several plays, and we were glad to get him back.”
Miles then talked up defensive line coach Brick Haley’s men in the middle, welcomed news to Tiger fans given the names gone from last season’s roster.
“I think our defensive line, Drake Nevis and Al Woods, are going to be really tough on the inside,” Miles said.
Miles noted the play of Chad Jones at free safety, also adding that behind Patrick Peterson, all three cornerbacks – Jai Eugene, Chris Hawkins and Mo Claiborne – made their mark on the afternoon.
Though no turnovers were forced in Tuesday’s affair, Coleman and strong safety Brandon Taylor recorded interceptions on Saturday.
The pieces, thanks in large part to the reconstruction job that the new defensive staff pulled over a six-month span, look to finally be in place.
The Tigers will take Wednesday off and return to practice Thursday afternoon. The next session will be the first day of preparation for the season-opener at Washington on Sept. 5.