On Monday morning the Tiger defense was broken into their usual three groups, and while pads were on for the first time this fall, there was no real contact outside of the Big Cat Drill that opened the session.
The media was allowed to observe for about 20 minutes, and here are some notes from the morning.
The linebackers worked on footwork drills for much of the session. They were broken into the following pairs (in order of reps): Kelvin Sheppard and Stefoin Francois, Ryan Baker and Lamin Barrow, Kevin Minter and Tahj Jones, D.J Welter and Luke Muncie, Seth Fruge and Josh Johns, Justin Maclin and Nick Rice (walk-on).
Sheppard and Baker both looked great throughout the session, showing good speed and quickness out of their breaks. Both will be in the starting lineup and heavily counted on if the young defense hopes to have a lot of success. Redshirt freshman Lamin Barrow is also coming along well. He looks more fluid than he did in the fall, and he’s adding weight to his frame nicely. Right now he’s listed at 6-foot-2, 221-pounds, but he’s certainly put on a little more weight since the update to the roster.
The defensive line worked on the sleds and then moved through technique drills with a big emphasis on hand placement. It was good to finally get an up-close look at freshman Ego Ferguson, and No. 9 is definitely a sight to see. He’s got great size for a kid his age, but he’s going to need to clean the weight up a little bit before you could call him game-ready. Nonetheless, he shows amazing power behind his 6-foot-3, 290-plus pound frame. Even without contact and moving at half-speed, you can the strength and explosion. It’s still uncertain whether he’s going to be a full-time end or tackle, but for now it looks like defensive line coach Brick Haley will stick to trying him on the outsides.
Speaking of defensive ends, redshirt freshman Sam Montgomery is a great one to watch. With his dedication and skill, it will be hard to keep him out of the starting card when Saturdays roll around. The look in his eyes is always very determined, and he hangs on every last word that coaches Brick Haley and Joe Robinson offer up. Most of the guys will take a listen to the staff, but keep their heads down as they catch their breath, etc. Montgomery just always seems to very engaged in the teaching of each drill, and when you speak with him in person it’s the same tale. He talks about long hours of film study and respect for the game. I think the ceiling for potential with a player like Montgomery is far from where he’s at now.
Coach Ron Cooper worked the defensive backs out on run-support plays, seeing Karnell Hatcher step in for Jai Eugene at safety. Hatcher played a good bit in run-support over Brandon Taylor last season. With Chad Jones gone from the lineup, it looks like Taylor may stay on the field with Hatcher in certain situations. Tyrann Mathieu backed up Patrick Peterson at right cornerback for the second day in a row, while Ron Brooks backed up Morris Claiborne. Earlier this week we saw Loston and Brooks in as the extra defensive backs in the dime. Brooks was also the extra back in the nickel.
The Tigers are now set for LSU Media Day on Tuesday, getting back to the action Wednesday morning on the Ponderosa.