Miles says Tigers 'much improved' in scrimmage

LSU coach Les Miles
LSU coach Les Miles

LSU completed fall camp with a lengthy scrimmage indoors Thursday and next will turn its attention to the season opener against Oregon on Sept. 3 in Arlington, Texas.

Coach Les Miles said the Tigers had a 100-play scrimmage plus another 30 special teams plays.

“This will be a great help to the coaching staff,” Miles said. “We really looked at a lot of things. We did a lot of live tackling. We worked on two-minute-and-last throws, and we had an opportunity to do a lot of different things. We did a ton of special teams.”

Miles said all three phases were “crisper” than they were in the first scrimmage last Saturday.

“We’re a ways away from playing a game,” Miles said, “(but) we’re much improved. The defense tackled the ball well. We had a lot of contact. We blocked the line of scrimmage better. A number of guys had receptions and some really nice gains.”

Miles said the practice was held indoors instead of Tiger Stadium to avoid the threat of late-afternoon rain that could have curtailed one of the more important days of preseason work.

LSU didn’t provide official stats, but Miles offered some. He said the Tigers passed for 270 yards and rushed for 150.

Jordan Jefferson completed 15 of 25 passes for 100 yards “or so.” Jarrett Lee completed 9 of 14 for 111, and Zach Mettenberger completed 6 of 11 for 71 yards and threw two touchdowns. Jefferson and Lee both worked with the first-team offense.

“We’re just watching the competition play out, that’s all,” Miles said. “I think they’ve all gotten more comfortable with the offense.”

James Wright was the leading receiver with five catches for 80 yards, and Rueben Randle had five catches for 37 yards.

Michael Ford was the leading rusher, carrying 11 times for 65 yards “or so.”

“I thought we rushed the ball pretty well overall,” Miles said. “I think we probably averaged five yards a carry. I thought we ran hard and I thought we blocked well.”

Miles said Spencer Ware had “just under 50 yards in 10 carries” and Jakhari Gore ran well enough to join the competition with Ware, Ford and Alfred Blue for carries.

“Blue had a couple of very nice runs,” Miles said. “This is as healthy as he has been since camp started and he showed it.”

Miles identified two players who didn’t work - wide receiver Jarvis Landry, who has been working back from an injured right foot, and guard Josh Williford, who was seen walking with his right foot in a walking cast Wednesday.

“Landry could well have played,” Miles said. “We decided to hold him out with the idea being that resting another day he would be pretty fresh.”

Willford’s absence is the latest in a series on the offensive line, where fellow guards Will Blackwell and Josh Dworaczyk also have missed time.

“It happens every year at one position or another,” Miles said. “Certainly it’s happening on the interior of the offensive line right now.

“I think the great majority of these guys are going to be back and be ready and not be an issue.”

To compensate for the absences, Miles said the Tigers have moved some tackles to guard, most notably freshman La’El Collins, one of the top-rated high-school tackles in the country last season at Redemptorist. “He may well get an opportunity to play,” Miles said.

On defense, Miles said safety Craig Loston had six tackles and “a nice interception and a nice return.” Safety Brandon Taylor had five tackles, including a sack.

“I thought the linebacking position played pretty well,” Miles said. “(Ryan) Baker and (Kevin) Minter seemed to be the two and then (Karnell) Hatcher’s right there, and (Lamin) Barrow. Those four guys will play a lot of football.”

Miles said freshman defensive tackle Anthony Johnson “made a couple of very physical plays inside.” He said sophomore tackle Michael Brockers is having “a great camp.”

The defensive line as a whole, Miles said, “is really coming on.

“I think they have made plays every scrimmage and every practice,” he said. “I think they’re pushing the front and have great speed. I look forward to watching them play.”

The players are off Friday.

“I can’t wait for them to get their legs back,” Miles said, “and have a fresh bounce in this team. We worked them pretty hard. This is the finish of the LSU vs. LSU. We’ll turn our attention to Oregon.”

Miles said the team has already been preparing for the Ducks’ hurry-up offense.

“We feel like we’re down the road there a little bit,” he said. “Our guys kind of understand what to expect that will certainly pick up in the long next 10 days or so.”

Notes

When asked if there were any new injuries from the scrimmage, Miles said, “None that I know of at this point.” ￉ As for the prognosis for players currently nicked up, Miles said, “I think there are a couple of guys there who are in question (for Oregon), but we probably won’t know until about next Monday. ￉ Miles said redshirt freshman punter Brad Wing is “having a good fall camp.” ￉ Offensive coordinator Greg Studrawa and quarterbacks coach Steve Kragthorpe operated from the catwalk to simulate their position in the press box for games.