BATON ROUGE – Claiming that the “defense won the day”, head coach Les Miles seemed pleased with the improvement that the top-ranked Tigers showed on Thursday as LSU went through its second full-scale scrimmage here in Tiger Stadium.
Thursday’s scrimmage also marked the close of training camp for the Tigers as LSU will take Friday off before practicing twice – one focusing on just special teams - over the weekend. The first day of class at LSU is Monday.
The scrimmage featured 120 plays and saw the 1s on offense and defense square off for most of the time with the 2s and 3s getting snaps as well. LSU used Thursday’s workout to work on various game-like situations, including redzone and tight zone, 1st and 10, 3rd and long as well as 2-minute and 4-minute offense. LSU also spent time working on all phases of special teams.
“We had a bunch of different situations that we put the team through,” Miles said. “It was really a good practice and I think we got better as a team. You can see the improvement from last week to this week.
“I thought we made plays on offense and I like where we are, but we are still early in our development there. I thought we had some big plays in the passing game and really had some sharp runs. However, we did have a couple execution faux pas that we have to get fixed. But again, we are coming along.”
Miles singled out the play of junior quarterback Zach Mettenberger, who connected on 15-of-26 passes for 170 yards, five touchdowns and just one interception. Three of Mettenberger’s touchdown passes came during the redzone portion of the scrimmage with one going to Odell Beckham Jr. for 15 yards, one to Nic Jacobs for 15 yards and the other to Chase Clement for 15 yards.
Backup quarterback Stephen Rivers completed 8-of-15 passes for 70 yards leading the No. 2 offense.
The Tigers rushed for 300 yards during the 120-play workout with Kenny Hilliard (100 yards on 17 carries) and Alfred Blue (106 yards on 13 carries) leading the way. Miles said the Jeremy Hill and Michael Ford each got carries as well.
Beckham Jr. led all receivers with five catches for 62 yards, while four other players each caught two passes.
Defensively, Miles complimented the play of freshman cornerbacks Jalen Collins and Jalen Mills, while also singling out the performance of All-America safety Eric Reid. Miles said Collins and Mills both saw snaps with the 1s on defense. Reid and linebacker Kevin Minter led the defense with five tackles each.
“I thought the defense played well,” Miles said. “I thought there was some really good tackling and I thought the guys up front got after it pretty good. I think the defense won the day, but I think that there was enough offense for us to overcome some of the mistakes that we made.
“It was a really competitive go. Again, I like where we are at. We need to improve, but we took some strides today.”
LSU is now just over two weeks away from opening its eighth season under Miles as the Tigers host North Texas at 6 p.m. on Tiger Stadium on Sept. 1 in what will be the first of three straight night home games.