Offense shines at LSU football scrimmage

Advocate staff photo by CATHERINE THRELKELD -- LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger throws the ball at spring practice on Friday, March 15, 2013. Show caption
Advocate staff photo by CATHERINE THRELKELD -- LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger throws the ball at spring practice on Friday, March 15, 2013.

With the spring game a week away, the LSU football team held its second full scrimmage of spring practice Saturday in Tiger Stadium, and offense ruled the day.

Coach Les Miles estimated the offense accrued about 800 yards during the 130-play workout.

Senior quarterback Zach Mettenberger threw for six touchdowns, according to statistics provided by LSU, as he led an offense that spent part of the day operating in red-zone situations. He connected on 15 of 26 passes for 276 yards.

“The offense continues to get better,” Miles said.

Miles said the Tigers had about 500 yards through the air and just under 300 on the ground but pointed out that those numbers came against a defense that was short-handed.

Projected defensive starters Jalen Mills, Ronald Martin and Jermauria Rasco missed the scrimmage with injuries.

“Those guys off our first-team defense certainly hampered us some,” Miles said.

Mettenberger threw a 47-yard touchdown pass to Jarvis Landry, a 36-yarder to Odell Beckham Jr. and a 47-yarder to Jeremy Hill on a screen pass.

Freshman Anthony Jennings, a January enrollee, led the trio of scholarship quarterbacks working to become Mettenberger’s backup.

Jennings connected on 8 of 11 passes for 98 yards and three touchdowns, and he rushed four times for 36 yards. Two of the TD passes went to Landry, and the other went to Connor Neighbors on a 20-yard catch-and-run.

Sophomore Stephen Rivers was 3 of 5 for 31 yards. Hayden Rettig, another true freshman, went 4 of 9 for 97 yards and a touchdown.

Miles said Jennings, a dangerous runner, made strides in the passing game.

Landry and Beckham led the receiving corps, combining for six touchdown receptions. Landry had 85 yards on four catches, and Beckham caught six passes for 101 yards.

Kenny Hilliard led all rushers with 91 yards on 14 carries, followed by Terrence Magee with five carries for 46 yards and Hill with seven for 37 yards.

Despite all of the offense, Miles said the first-team defense played well.

“It’s an interesting thing,” he said. “I’ve never been around a scrimmage where we’ve moved the football as well as this. But I really thought the first defense played well. It’s interesting. We’ll have to look at this film and kind of put the results together and improve. It will be an interesting film to watch with the team and grade.”

Miles said senior safety Craig Loston, with four tackles, was “flying around” during the scrimmage.

Anthony Johnson had three tackles and two sacks at defensive tackle. Linebacker Lamin Barrow finished with three tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack.

Linebacker Kwon Alexander had three tackles. Cornerback Jalen Collins had five tackles and a pass breakup.

Miles said sophomore defensive back Jerqwinick Sandolph also had a nice day.

Martin joins injured list

Martin suffered what Miles labeled a “weight-room injury” and missed Saturday’s scrimmage. Miles wasn’t sure whether the junior safety would return for the final week of spring practice.

Rasco and Mills are out after undergoing minor shoulder surgery and will not be back on the field until fall camp.

Not going green

In keeping with a practice from recent spring workouts, Miles left the backup quarterbacks in white jerseys for the scrimmage. Quarterbacks generally wear a green jersey, signifying no contact.

After taking a shot Saturday from Alexander, Miles said Jennings exhibited some toughness by brushing the hit off and moving on to the next play.

“I don’t mind that,” Miles said Jennings told Alexander. “Bring it again.”

Miles said Mettenberger remained in a green jersey.

Diarse, Dural catch praise

Miles mentioned freshmen John Diarse and Travin Dural among the top performers and said he expects both to be factors this year in the receiving corps. Diarse and Dural had one touchdown catch apiece in the scrimmage.

“Two guys in the receiving corps that really stood out to me,” Miles said. “Dural and Diarse are coming.”

Dural, from Breaux Bridge, missed all of last season with a knee injury. Diarse enrolled in January after leading Neville to a runner-up showing in the Class 4A playoffs.