Wearing shells and enthusiasm, the Tigers took in their 12th practice of the spring; and the TSD team was there to bring you a taste of the action.
Starting with the running backs, Richard Murphy was wearing green again and the pecking order remained Richard Murphy, Stevan Ridley and Mike Ford. The backs began working on the gauntlet drill after catching an option pitch from Coach Wilson. All three guys looked very good in this drill, while the fullbacks obviously looked out of place.
Dominique Allen is easily the most agile of the fullbacks and if he can work on his ball handling, you may see more of Allen’s carries. Michael Ford continues to draw praise from onlookers with his unique “bowling ball” style of running. He possesses great balance, and during the balance drill (where the running backs run a few yards and touch the ground on their way to the 20 yard line) Ford would always beat the other guys through the line. It appears that nothing is holding Murphy back from full contact as he looks the most polished of the backs, while Ridley appears to maintain his spot as the proven No. 2 for now. The spring game will have a draft format and will help determine the depth chart - and number of carries going into fall camp.
Moving to the offensive line, I noticed that No. 61, Ben Domingue, has taken the center reps now that T-Bob Hebert will miss the rest of spring practice. As a whole, the offensive line was working on their out blocks against defensive line twists and slants with Coach Studrawa calling out a different stunt on every play - unless there was an error that required a second look.
The defensive line was once again broken into two groups: tackles and ends. Its easy to notice the different look of the overall group as it appears that LSU coaches have committed to getting smaller, faster defensive ends and bigger tackles that can really clog the middle and take up multiple gaps while also being effective in the pass rush.
This is probably a progression to defend the growing number of spread offenses in both the SEC and nation. The ends worked exclusively on pass rush and containment while breaking up a dummy passer pocket. The tackles worked on taking on double teams and trap blocks.
Josh Downs is challenging Drake Nevis for the most vocal of the tackles, and he was getting a lot of one-on-one attention from coach Joe Robinson. The tackles that I saw destroyed the trap block with ease by noticing the down block from the guard or center and using their inside shoulder to stop the trapping guard on his first step. Out of the ends, Sam Montgomery was out in front as the best pass rusher because of his technique and speed. The only defensive end that might be faster is Barkevious Mingo. Lavar Edwards and Ken Adams appear to be in the bigger group of ends, so they lack a little bit of the quickness - but still used good technique to effectively get to the passer. Once again, Chancey Aghayere was not at practice.
The defensive backs and linebackers worked separately, with the backers working on the distance tackle drill and the defensive backs working on cover three and cover two drops. Coach Cooper went over a few assignment details for different cover three plays, and the safeties quickly made it to their assignments within two reps of each play. After that we got to see a few seconds of the linebackers and defensive backs together working on their base cover two, which looks really good thanks to Kelvin Shepard being moved to MIKE backer and him having the ability to drift deep into coverage after checking his short middle zone.
Barrett Bailey continued to work with the defensive backs and really looks like he may turn out to be a good quarterback one day. He has every bit of the size to do it at 6-foot-4 and he throws a very nice ball. Coach Cooper seems to really appreciate the use of a real quarterback arm to go against.