Things kicked off on Monday for LSU, but the weather forced the Tigers to a slow start – indoors. Working without pads or shells, the Tiger offense and defense took to the practice fields for the first time this spring dressed in helmets, jerseys (no shoulder pads) and padded biking shorts.
Here is a rundown from TigerSportsDigest.com on what the opening 20 minutes of the day brought.
Starting with the quarterbacks, there were five in attendance and all got the same amount of reps as expected from a first practice. They worked on hitting fade and stop routes to get their mechanics down before moving on to the more difficult throws that are sure to come. All of the quarterbacks had some nice throws but it was clear to us that Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee looked the best. Barrett Bailey was the fifth quarterback out there while T.C. McCartney and Chris Garrett received some praise from headman Les Miles for a few accurate fade routes.
The offensive line was in its own corner of the facility for the entire time that the media was allowed. They worked exclusively on double team blocks and staying with them. This is common for the first practice of the spring as it is always a priority to get your base blocks down before moving on to pulls, peels, zone, stretch, or even pass blocking. They looked good as a whole while Josh Williford and Alex Hurst really stood out as imposing figures.
The wide receivers were led by Terrance Toliver, Reuben Randle and Russell Shepard with Chris Tolliver also looking good and making some nice grabs. They all worked on two different footwork drills, with the first being the ropes. New wide outs coach Billy Gonzales and a graduate assistant were swinging away with dummy bats trying to dislodge the ball while the receivers kept their eyes up and moved quite impressively through the ropes.
The second drill was the zigzag directional cones where the receivers line up and work on their 45-degree cuts. This is where Randle and Chris Tolliver really excelled and Shepard struggled a bit. Shepard is not really a sharp cutting guy at this point in getting in and out of his breaks but his speed makes up for it. The group then worked with the quarterbacks on fade and stop routes while getting off of press coverage for the fade and stopping before soft coverage. Terrance Toliver looked the best at getting off the initial press, but none of them really had any trouble. Only one or two catchable balls were dropped for our allotted time.
The running backs were working on their footwork drills as well on the dummy blocks. They were speeding through with Les Miles watching closely. Richard Murphy was wearing a green jersey but was participating in all of the drills and definitely looked like the starter. Murphy was the fastest and most confident out of all of the backs with a trimmed down Stevan Ridley following. Michael Ford fits the mold as an SEC caliber back, but is still behind Murphy and Ridley in the order of drills. Ford drew praise from Miles and seems to be a serious North/South runner.
Dominique Allen looked big but was giving maximum effort out there as he is now competing with Richard Dugas, Thomas Parsons, Jordan Stampley and Michael Casanova for the starting fullback position. Fullback should be one of the most interesting battles of the spring.
The tight ends were working on their seal and base blocks and all of a sudden there are eight of them on LSU’s roster. Deangelo Peterson was back at tight end to start the spring and he was joined by Alex Russian, Chase Clement, Mitch Joseph, and Tyler Edwards.
The defensive line was led by tackles Pep Levingston and Drake Nevis, and ends Lavar Edwards and Chancey Aghayere. Josh Downs was dressed out but was only watching as he may is battling a thigh contusion. 2010 signee Ken Adams really looked like he could be a big help at defensive end this season based on the way he moves and the way he looks on the hoof and Michael Brockers looked huge today and seems to be grasping the tackle position quite well.
Sam Montgomery looks like a good pass rushing end on the hoof and he looks very fit and quick off of the football. Montgomery is very aggressive and has excellent technique out of the gates. Chris Davenport is a larger defensive tackle that looks to have quick hands and powerful legs. Davenport may not be the quickest but he is a bull at tackle.
The line and linebackers worked on the same tackling drills with the coaches staying at the same positions. Those drills were the downhill tackle and the shed block to tackle drills. In the downhill each player moves through dummies at a 45-degree angle while shedding a chop block from a medicine ball to the tackle dummy where the wrap up is overly emphasized. This is a drill that Chavis brought over last year and is actually the first thing he shows the team. The second drill is a simple form tackle after shedding a block from a shielded teammate.
The linebackers looked quite impressive in all of their drills until the sled. In particular, Kelvin Sheppard is head and shoulders (literally) ahead of the others but Ryan Baker and Stefoin Francois looked very aggressive. Francois really has filled out in his upper body and now looks like a linebacker with defensive back legs and looks like a bigger Harry Colman. Kevin Minter was watching as he must have tweaked something in warm ups. Tahj Jones still looks really thin but is very aggressive in drills and tackles very well. Lamin Barrow also turned some heads with his physicality. When they got to the sled they were asked to roll their hips from their knees and push through the dummy and some of them were not properly propelling themselves. Coach Chavis let them know that they were doing it wrong and after a few tries they almost had it down. Coach Chavis still appears to be one of the more vocal coaches while paying relentless attention to detail.
Lastly, the defensive backs were working on the downhill tackle drill as well and then moved on to footwork and drop drills. It is quite impressive to see the speed at defensive back when they move through the downhill tackle drill as opposed to watching the linebackers and defensive linemen move through it. Morris Claiborne, Brandon Taylor, Craig Loston and Patrick Peterson really stood out in this drill. Ron Brooks looks to be the quickest of the bunch while Jai Eugene settled into the strong safety position which fits his style of play as he has a very smooth backpedal and almost has the body frame. Karnell Hatcher was dressed but sitting out as he is battling a nagging groin injury according to Miles.
That’s it for now but we’ll have more in just a bit including comments from Miles after the first day of spring practice.