Saturday’s opening scrimmage of the fall meant that the LSU football team had survived double-digit practices, the lone setback coming on Friday when starting linebacker Ryan Baker suffered a broken jaw during the team’s morning session workout.
In an afternoon scrimmage that focused on short-yardage and first-and-10 situations, the stat line told the tale of the day. The running backs combined for 32 touches, while quarterbacks Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee went stride-for-stride with 4-for-9 performances. The lone scores came on an interception return (a pick-six by Patrick Peterson on Jefferson) and a deep touchdown strike from Lee to freshman James Wright.
While freshmen wideouts Armand Williams and Kadron Boone drew the attention during the opening leg of camp, the first scrimmage belonged to the former Belle Chase standout.
“Today was James Wright’s day,” said head coach Les Miles. “And he made some James Wright-style catches.”
The pick from Peterson summed up the aggressive afternoon from the defensive side, one that everyone around the LSU football operations building has tabbed as the fastest in some time. On Saturday, the high-praise belonged to the defensive backs.
“That defense is awfully good against the pass,” Miles said. “I can tell you that those corners had really good days. Patrick Peterson had a pick and they had a turnover on a running play. Tyrann Mathieu had several break ups in the two-minute segment on the back end of practice.”
Mathieu and Peterson finished the day with four tackles each. Craig Loston led all Tigers with five stops. Karnell Hatcher, who was sidelined with a knee injury on Friday, was held out of the scrimmage.
In the wake of Baker’s injury, linebackers Kelvin Sheppard and Stefoin Francois had solid afternoons, each recording four tackles and a sack. Miles said that Lamin Barrow and a number of freshmen names rotated into the void left by Baker on the weakside.
“Some young linebackers that played snaps against the third offense are going to be evaluated and moves will be made based on this practice,” Miles said.
Another group Miles had a close eye on were the ball carriers, and the staff handed out 32 carries between five names.
“We wanted to see the tailbacks run, and I wanted to see the young fullbacks,” Miles said. “We worked personnel groups that really needed to be worked so that we can have some series to make evaluations.”
Stevan Ridley led the way with 52 yards on six carries, followed closely by fellow veteran Richard Murphy – who carried the ball for 45 yards on the same number of touches. Freshmen Spencer Ware and Alfred Blue went for 29 yards and 25 yards, respectively.
“I felt like Ridley came off fast, and I liked the way Murphy ran,” Miles said. “The freshman runners are talented. They need to understand to hold onto the ball, but they are elusive and big and strong.”
Freshman Jakhari Gore, who was injured in a practice this past week, played in the scrimmage but did not record a touch.
There was no Brandon Worle at fullback, leaving the rotation to young names like Travis Dickson and returning walk-ons James Stampley and Richard Dugas.
“We are looking at a number of guys,” Miles said. “There are guys making some progress. They are in a very competitive position. I like the young ones, and I like both veterans in Stampley and Dugas. I want to wait and see this film, but there will be leverage based on performance today.”
The team will take Sunday off before returning to two-a-day action next week.
Stevan Ridley 6 att., 52 yards
Richard Murphy 6 att., 45 yards
Spencer Ware 8 att., 29 yards
Alfred Blue 7 att., 25 yards
Michael Ford 5 att., 15 yards
Jarrett Lee 4-for-9, 82 yards, 1 TD
Jordan Jefferson 4-for-9, 63 yards, 1 Int.
James Wright 2 rec., 65 yards, 1 TD
Terrence Toliver 2 rec., 21 yards
Russell Shepard 1 rec., 18 yards
Deangelo Peterson 1 rec., 18 yards
Patrick Peterson 4 tackles, 1 Int. returned 64-yards for a TD
Craig Loston 5 tackles
Kelvin Sheppard 4 tackles, 1 sack
Stefoin Francois 4 tackles, 1 sack
Kendrick Adams 3 tackles, 2 TFL
Tyrann Mathieu 4 tackles, 2 PBUs
Drake Nevis 2 tackles, 1 sack