LSU steps up preparations for TCU

TCU is becoming more of a focal point for LSU as the season opener nears.

The Tigers finished their second week of preseason practice with their second scrimmage Saturday, their first inside Tiger Stadium.

It came just two weeks before LSU begins the season against the Horned Frogs in the Cowboys Classic in Arlington, Texas.

The scrimmage ended before an afternoon shower hit campus as LSU worked amid relatively mild weather for mid-August. In fact, coach Les Miles said afterward: “We enjoyed the finest weather I can ever remember in a preseason camp day in Tiger Stadium.”

“It was just beautiful, couldn’t have been any better.”

The team’s execution could have been better, Miles said, but that’s not uncommon for preseason scrimmages.

“This is one of those days where as a coach, you can’t wait to get to the film, because you realize that that’ll direct your next two weeks in getting ready for our first opponent,” Miles said.

The Tigers, who will hold their final preseason scrimmage Tuesday, worked against some TCU schemes Saturday.

“We looked at situations, some key matchups that might be presented to us by our opponent in the first game,” Miles said. “We put some of that in there for our defense to see.”

That work yielded the only turnover of the scrimmage as backup quarterback Anthony Jennings, operating the scout team, was intercepted by linebacker Deion Jones.

“Our defense was very difficult to move against,” Miles said. “It was mostly ones versus twos. There were times where we tested the ones versus the ones, and it was a very competitive go.”

Miles offered rough estimates for statistics, saying the offense rushed for 200 yards and passed for 250. He estimated that Zach Mettenberger completed 18 of 25 passes and that Mettenberger and Jennings each passed for two touchdowns. He said starting receivers Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. each caught two touchdown passes.

“We caught some deep ones, we caught some short ones, we caught some intermediate ones,” Miles said. “The receiving corps had a nice day.”

Miles said freshman tight end DeSean Smith made “a couple of nice catches.” Redshirt freshman receiver Travin Dural has been slowed by a sore knee, but Miles said the injury “is not serious in any way.”

The performance of the passing game Saturday was indicative of Mettenberger’s growth in first-year coordinator Cam Cameron’s offense, Miles said.

“We’re throwing a variety of throws,” he said. “We’re going to attack a defense in a number of ways. We’re going to attack it deep, we’re going to attack it intermediate, we’re going to attack it short, we’re going to attack it wide on the perimeter.”

Miles said Mettenberger had “some real mechanical issues” that he has worked on with Cameron, who also has helped Mettenberger with the speed of his decision making.

“He’s getting so many reps throwing the football that his accuracy is so much better and his instincts are sound,” Miles said. “When you hear the decision and how it’s to be made over and over and over, it starts to sink in. There was a point in time early in camp he was a little rusty and you could tell it, but he’s really caught speed lately.”

Miles said Cameron has a good mixture of terminology from the old system blended with new terminology that the players are comfortable with.

Terrence Magee was the leading rusher, Miles said, because of big-gainers in which he broke tackles. Miles has praised Magee’s potential in each of the last two preseasons, but the former Franklinton High School quarterback has yet to have an impact on offense, though he’s worked at running back and wide receiver.

“I think he’s always been that guy that has real talent that was waiting for that opportunity,” Miles said. “I think when he gets into a game and has the style of game he’s capable of, it’s going to put real pressure on us and the position because he’s deserving to play.”

Miles said Alfred Blue had a big run and Jeremy Hill, who’s still working his way into shape after an offseason suspension, lined up with the first team.

“Jeremy Hill had a couple of plays today that were pretty good,” Miles said, “but not specifically spectacular.”

Miles praised middle linebacker D.J. Welter, which he has done throughout camp.

“Welter has had a very strong fall camp,” Miles said. “He’s improved and improved. He realized that he needs to play with passion and he does and it’s fun. To me, it’s kind of catchy.

“I think our linebacking corps is kind of enjoying the luxury of big plays and the enjoyment of contact. I think the group is just a really improved group.”

As for special teams, Miles said Colby Delahoussaye was 4-for-4 on field goals and punter Jamie Keehn “was extremely sharp dropping the ball (inside the 20).”

“We were a little sloppy, and we’re certainly not ready to play,” Miles said, “but we shined very brightly at times.”