“I was a little bit surprised by the play today but after a long week of practice, we came out and played pretty hard today,” UL head coach Mark Hudspeth said.
“We got a little tired late and committed some silly penalties which we have to avoid. The fourth quarter is usually when your are tired and we can’t be making jumping offside or making false starts if we expect to win,” Hudspeth added.
The first offensive unit, led by quarterback Blaine Gautier, looked strong during the 75-minute scrimmage, but some new faces stepped up and showed that they are capable of helping out.
Safety T.J. Worthy, who earlier in the week learned that the NCAA granted his appeal making him eligible to play this fall, scooped up a fumble and returned it 16 yards for a touchdown early in the scrimmage.
“That was a big-time play by T.J.” Hudspeth said. “He has had a good camp so far and his play today showed it.”
Wide receiver Jamal Robinson showed that he will be a reliable receiving option, making several catches during the session, including a 55-yard run and catch.
“Jamal has played well so far this fall and he has shown that when he makes the catch, he is capable of being a playmaker for us,” Hudspeth said.
Robinson wasn’t the only receiver to stand out as Bradley Brown, who is eligible this fall after transferring from Northwestern State, made a nice run after a catch to score during the scripted portion of the scrimmage.
“We are going to have a nice and deep receiving unit,” Hudspeth said. “We know that Javone Lawson, Harry Peoples and Darryl Surgent are going to step up when the game is on the line, but our depth is going to help us perform at a higher level all game long.”
Not everything met Hudspeth’s expectations however. Early in the scrimmage following a change of profession he chastised the No. 2 defense for walking onto the field. “We take the field like we own the field,” Hudspeth said before making the unit return to the sidelines and show a true Cajun effort in returning to the field.
Hudspeth singled out the effort of the defensive line during the scrimmage, especially Justin Hamilton and Cordian Hagans.
“Those two really stood out on a unit that played pretty hard today and they did a nice job of forcing play at the point of the attack” Hudspeth said. “the defensive line was a concern coming out of spring practice because of our inexperience, but it is quickly becoming apparent that we are going to have some quality depth.”
The scrimmage was played out before approximately 200 fans who were allowed to watch because they were members of the RCAF. . . after 10 straight days of practice, Hudspeth gave the Cajuns Sunday off with only a short team meeting scheduled for the day.
Meanwhile in Baton Rouge, things returned to business as usual after the dismissal of junior cornerback Tyrann Mathieu.
“I just told them the truth,” Miles said when asked about how the news was given to the team. “There was nobody in the (team meeting) room that was happy including me, but we understand that this team has to go on. We play a lot of good football teams. We don’t need open wounds when we go off to play. We need to heal and get it right, and go play strong.”
Quarterback Zach Mettenberger connected on 15-of-30 passes for 190 yards and two scores as top-ranked LSU went through its preseason scrimmage here Saturday indoors at the Charles McClendon Practice Facility.
Saturday’s scrimmage, the first of three for the Tigers before the season opener, featured 80 snaps for the 1s and 2s and 25 plays for the 3s. LSU also spent time working different areas of special teams, including kickoff coverage and kickoff return as well as punt coverage and punt return.
LSU will take Sunday off before returning to practice on Monday when the team will have two workouts. LSU’s next scrimmage is scheduled for Thursday in Tiger Stadium.
“The scrimmage is awfully important to the development of any team and I felt like we saw a lot of young guys in a bunch of different spots, and a new quarterback that’s operating the business,” Miles said following the workout. “We got a lot accomplished, but we are not ready to play a game. We were sloppy - we had two substitution penalties and several pass interferences. But, this is a perfect way to correct your team. This film will be studied by the players and coaches as we go forward.”
Miles complimented the play of first-year starter Mettenberger, who threw a 55-yard TD pass to Odell Beckham Jr. and a 31-yard scoring pass to James Wright. Miles said that backup quarterback Stephen Rivers was 6-of-10 for 100 yards.
Jeremy Hill led all rushers with 71 yards on nine carries followed by Kenny Hilliard with 31 yards on eight attempts. Michael Ford ran for 30 yards.
“I enjoyed the rushers,” Miles said. “I think Jeremy Hill made a couple of really nice moves and (Russell) Shepard took a couple of balls out of the backfield. We rushed the football pretty well. I thought we threw the ball better than we had (in previous practices). It was a good day, and a nice first scrimmage.”
Beckham Jr. led all receivers with four catches for 101 yards, while James Wright hauled in four passes for 57 yards and Shepard four for 16 yards.
Defensively, junior cornerback Tharold Simon had a good all-around day with two tackles, one sack and an interception. Linebackers Lamin Barrow and Kevin Minter both had four tackles, while Sam Montgomery had a sack. Barrow also added a sack from the outside linebacker position.
“I thought there were some really good performances, but the reality of it is it was what we needed as a team,” Miles said. “I like where we’re at. I really do. I think there’s energy here. I think we are progressing.”
LSU opens its eighth-season under Miles on Saturday, Sept. 1 against North Texas in Tiger Stadium.
Also holding scrimmages were Tulane, which concluded its first week of fall camp with an 85-play scrimmage at the Saints Indoor Practice Facility in Metairie, as well as Northwestern State.
NSU’s scrimmage saw a ball-hawking Purple Swarm defense came up with five turnovers, including a 21-yard fumble return by Cortez Paige, before the Northwestern State offense dominated the latter portion of a two-hour scrimmage Saturday night in Turpin Stadium with eight touchdowns, including three long pass plays, two by starting quarterback Brad Henderson.
“The defense dominated the first three quarters but boy, our offense roared back with some great plays coming down the stretch,” said fourth-year coach Bradley Dale Peveto. “We haven’t shown that kind of explosiveness this early in camp before and that’s exciting to everybody in the stadium except the defense. I like the fact that the offense took some punches but didn’t give in. They came back and tore it up.”
The Green Wave’s No. 1 defense stood tall against the No. 1 offense and the defenders managed to consistently harass all three quarterbacks and the passing game.
“We did a great job today and came out and completed,” Tulane Coach Curtis Johnson said. “I thought the number one defense really took it to the offense. The twos got in and went up and down the field and the one offense got a little mad and came back. It was a good battle going back and forth. You can win with tempo and enthusiasm alone and I like that. I love the tempo, but I’d like to get them in and out of the huddle a little quicker.