The LSU football team is gradually implementing new coordinator Cam Cameron’s offense as it builds toward a complete unveiling in the season opener against TCU on Aug. 31 in Arlington, Texas.
In the Tigers’ first preseason scrimmage Wednesday morning, they focused on executing in the 20-yard area near the goal lines. In their second scrimmage Saturday in Tiger Stadium, they will focus on first-and-10 and third-down situations.
The players look forward to the scrimmages because they provide the best gauge of how they’re progressing.
“It’s the closest thing to a game,” senior wide receiver James Wright said. “It’s a chance to put it all together, and to see the plays come alive is a beautiful thing.”
All of the scrimmages are closed to the public and media, but coach Les Miles said the first scrimmage provided evidence that the passing game and the offense as a whole have improved. Still, the first real test won’t come until the Tigers play TCU.
“Seeing our offense live against our defense is good and something we like to do,” wide receiver Travin Dural said. “We’re working on our technique and working on our assignments. If you make mistakes, it’s better to make them in a scrimmage and get them fixed before the games so we know what to do right and get ready for TCU.”
Quarterback Zach Mettenberger said the time spent working with Cameron in the spring, practicing the new offense in the summer and going through nearly two weeks of preseason camp has the Tigers pretty well acclimated to the scheme.
“Scrimmages are big for communication, signaling play calls, communicating with the offensive line and receivers,” he said. “So we’re all on the same page and can execute a play properly.”
Coach Les Miles said the coaches will be in their game locations on the sideline and press box to give the scrimmage a game-like feel.
Dural, a redshirt freshman, is one of several young receivers bidding for playing time alongside Wright, fellow senior Kadron Boone and juniors Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr., the returning starters. True freshmen John Diarse and Kevin Spears and junior-college transfer Quantavius Leslie are getting acclimated, as Wright did when he first scrimmaged as a freshman.
“I remember we practiced a lot, but then in the scrimmages the coaches had a different feel,” he said. “They try to simulate a game, and you tend to want to make more plays and you can feel a little more pressure. But I tell the young guys just to enjoy it and have fun. If they couldn’t do it, they wouldn’t be here.”
Senior running back Alfred Blue is enjoying the scrimmages, which provide the most contact he has endured since suffering a season-ending knee injury early last season. He was held out of contact in the spring.
“I’m fired up about that,” he said. “It gets real intense, and there’s a lot of fire out there. We’re going to try and simulate every situation we can, and we’ve got to be able to execute the plays.”
This scrimmage is scheduled for 125 plays after the Tigers ran 56 and about a dozen special teams snaps Wednesday.
“At the end of the day, we want to see what’s working and what’s not working,” guard Trai Turner said. “It’s a semi-game. We’ve got a new offense, and we’re trying to implement it. We get to show how many touchdowns we can put up. It’s a fun deal.”
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