LSU to conduct second scrimmage of fall practice on Thursday
by les east
August 21, 2012
LSU is scheduled to hold its second of three preseason scrimmages in Tiger Stadium on Thursday afternoon.
It’s an opportunity for young players to prove they’re ready for playing time, for older players to reinforce their standing and for all three units to demonstrate that they’re on track for the season opener against North Texas on Sept. 1 in Tiger Stadium.
“Everybody has to go into the scrimmage like it’s the first game of the season,” senior offensive lineman Josh Dworaczyk said. “We’ve been focused on getting ready for this scrimmage since the end of the last one (Saturday). We want to walk away from it with a lot of good game film for practice next week.”
Dworaczyk said the pace and intensity of the scrimmages increase as the Tigers get closer to their first game. The final scrimmage will be Aug. 21.
The scrimmage is also an opportunity for quarterback Zach Mettenberger’s backups — redshirt freshman Stephen Rivers and junior Rob Bolden, a recent transfer from Penn State — to show the coaches that they can be counted on if needed.
“I like Rivers and I like Bolden,” coach Les Miles said. “I think both guys give us really good competition at the position. I think they’re both improving.”
Junior defensive tackle Bennie Logan said the scrimmage isn’t important just to young players trying to prove themselves.
“A scrimmage is a time when you really have to step forward and show the coaches that you’re able to handle game-type situations,” Logan said. “You have to separate yourself from the way that you practice.
“You can’t just come out and be the regular person that you are in a regular practice. You have to raise your playing technique level and your effort to the ball and all the little things that you worked on to show, ‘Coach I learned from my mistakes and I think it’s my time now to put me in the rotation.” ’
Logan, who started 13 games last season, said he can’t treat the scrimmage as any less important than less established tackles such as sophomores Ego Ferguson and Anthony Johnson, among others, do.
“You can’t get comfortable thinking I’m a starter or I’ve been playing a year or two,” “Logan said. “Ego and Anthony are in the situation I was in last year. They’re hungry and eager to play and be in the rotation, so I can’t be happy and complacent. I have to come to every scrimmage at my best, dominating the line of scrimmage and do the things I know I can do and do the things that the coaches know I can do.”
Miles said the scrimmages are important opportunities for everyone on the team.
“It’s tremendously useful for all of our team,” he said. “We get a lot of special teams reps, a backup quarterback is certainly important for the team, as is a backup safety or a backup gunner or the backup punter for that matter. That’s why our scrimmages are long. It’s not just the first team that gets the reps. We’re building depth as we get going.”
Linebacker Kevin Minter said cornerback Tyrann Mathieu’s legacy is the determination with which Tigers defenders try to create turnovers. Mathieu forced a school-record 11 fumbles and had four interceptions in just two seasons before being dismissed from the team last Friday for violating team and university policy.
“(Forcing turnovers) has been our philosophy from the beginning, but he (Mathieu) was always good at it,” Minter said. “We just have to play our ball, Tiger football, run to the ball and strip it, do a lot of the stuff he did. I’m not going to lie, him leaving is a big thing for our team. But our team, in typical LSU fashion, will always rebuild and players will come through the ranks.”
Swinging for the fences
James Hairston said he’s been working on kickoffs, which will come from the 35-yard line this season, five yards closer to the receiving team’s end zone than in the past.
“I’ve worked hard this offseason and worked on my ball-striking abilities,” Hairston said. “If (special teams) coach (Thomas) McGaughey calls for hitting it out of the end zone, my goal is for it to be 100 percent out the back of the end zone. Last year, I felt like I could hit it 75-80 yards. That’s when I started getting comfortable.
“This year I intend on putting it into the first row of Tiger Stadium. I really am. The sky’s the limit. I’ll try to get it into the Allstate net, help them out. They’re spending a lot of money.”
Advocate sportswriter Scott Rabalais contributed to this report.