Starting with the running backs, Richard Murphy was once again wearing green but maintained the best cuts in the gauntlet drill - which is running through a series of foam arms and then making a quick decision-cut at the command of running backs coach Frank Wilson.
Stevan Ridley looked good today, but Michael Ford is making huge strides in terms of confidence and quickness. While Murphy had the best cuts, Ford tore through the gauntlet faster than any of the backs.
The quarterbacks and receivers worked together to start out practice, and the first play the unit worked on was the corner route to both the left and right. Jarrett Lee really put on a show by accurately dropping every pass into the breadbasket. Jordan Jefferson looked solid, as well as Chris Garrett – who hopes to bump Lee from the backup role sometime over the next month. Yet, this day goes to Lee – who was really on top of his game in our allotted time.
I find it hard to complain about anything that Terrance Toliver does because he looks great and never drops a ball, but Reuben Randle is really coming on strong and it’s hard to decide which one has the lead for best receiver on the team.
Both looked great on their corner routes as well as the stop and go, where Coach Gonzales really made them emphasize tucking the chin on the head fake. Russell Shepard and John Williams both had drops on difficult catches, while Chris Tolliver nabbed everything thrown his way. A number of guys appear to be viable options for third and fourth receivers, but the deadliest weapon is still Shepard (as long as he can hang on to the ball). At this point it is safe to say that receiver is the strongest point of LSU’s offensive attack.
On to the offensive line, and as previously stated the two-deep from left to right remained Joseph Barksdale, Josh Dworaczyk, P.J. Lonergan, Will Blackwell and Alex Hurst followed by Chris Faulk, Matt Branch, T-Bob Hebert, Josh Williford and Greg Shaw. Today [offensive line] coach [Greg] Stud had the unit working on draw pull plays with the tackle pulling to secure the outside technique for quarterback draws, running back draws or quick throws.
The defensive side of the ball was split up into technique drills rather than fundamental tackling, and tackles and ends separated the group. The tackles worked on their alignments and shifting fronts against a scout guard-center-guard combo at full speed. Pep Levingston, Drake Nevis and Michael Brockers all excelled and drew praise from [special teams] coach [Joe] Robinson.
The ends worked on taking on the double team and extending their arms while getting their eyes to the play. Surprisingly, Barkevious Mingo really took to this like a veteran with his old coach Don Shows in attendance. Mingo’s at his best when he gets to use those long arms, but all ends absorbed and played the double team to coach Brick Haley’s likes.
When the entire unit came together, they worked on setting the front and their first step past an offensive line made of trashcans. It appeared that they were working on their fronts for passing downs or nickel situations.
The linebackers worked almost entirely on the sleds for our allotted time. When I watched, they were working from the ready position on extending their arms after contact. Kelvin Sheppard led the group in drills, and it’s obvious why everyone was so excited to see him return for his senior year. Ryan Baker was back at practice and really pushed that sled back, but he did not keep his eyes up and had to go through the drill again. Stefoin Francois is aggressive and as quick as a cat, but he needs to bring those hips on contact. Once he gets this technique stuff down he will be a good one for the Chief. Tahj Jones actually looked very strong on the sled as well as Kyle Prater, and both got good feedback from coach Chavis.The defensive backs worked with quarterback Barrett Bailey again, and he lofted up some pretty balls for the defenders to turn and run to. The very first rep, Patrick Peterson made an outstanding one-handed catch. The starting four consisted of Peterson, Brandon Taylor (safety), Jai Eugene (safety) and Morris Claiborne, and they all looked good on their ball skill drills. Ron Brooks looked exceptionally quick on his agilities, as did Rocky Duplessis. As of now, it looks like Derrick Bryant, Ron Brooks or Rocky Duplessis will be fighting it out for the backup spots. Redshirt junior Karnell Hatcher was not in attendance.