GAME BLOG: LSU Spring Game
Mettenberger, Reid power White to 24-17 win
White won the Spring Game by the score of 24-17 thanks to two Zach Mettenberger touchdown strikes.
The new starting quarterback found Odell Bechman Jr. and Russell Shepard for scores. He was 14-for-25 for 270 yards. He also had two picks. One was his fault, to Ronald Martin in the end zone. The other was not his fault, off Tyler Edwards’ hands and into Lamar Louis’ hands for a pick-six.
Jarvis Landry was his favorite target, catching six passes for 120 yards, including a 54-yard bomb from Mettenberger.
Here are some of Les Miles’ best quotes following the spring game.
“I think Mettenberger is really improved. I think he made a mistake today down in there in position to score, really kind of forced the ball he didn’t need to throw. But other than that, it was really a pretty good day for him.”
-On Mettenberger’s game
“We’ll challenge anybody to play a single-high coverage against us. And if they play double-high, frankly we’ll have an opportunity to run the football. So pick their poison.”
-On how LSU’s offense can exploit defenses
“He’s done that all spring. There’s no magic there. He has the ability to run, ball skills. We have a couple deep threats there.”
-On Odell Beckham
Below is our game blog in chronological order.
BATON ROUGE — Hello and welcome inside Death Valley for the annual LSU spring game.
The Purple and the White will do battle at 1 p.m., following a celebration honoring the 2011 SEC championship team on the 50-yard line.
Today’s game will not be televised, but be sure to check back into this live blog frequently for game updates and personnel notes.
For as thorough a game prep as you’re going to get anywhere on the spring game, CLICK HERE to access BBI Senior Writer Hunt Palmer’s Spring Game Guide. (You will need to be subscribed to the Tiger Rag-BBI bundle to access the game preview.)
A quick glimpse at today’s roster reveals that the White Team is the more loaded group, almost totally comprised of first-team players on both sides of the ball.
There are several notable players on the Purple Team, including WR Russell Shepard, RB Kenny Hilliard, DT’s Ego Ferguson and Anthony Johnson and DE Lavar Edwards. CB Jalen Collins is also on the Purple Team, but we may see him switch jerseys a few times as he’s been LSU’s preferred third corner lately when Tyrann Mathieu takes his act inside.
Here are the projected starters (listed with numbers) for both teams:
WHITE TEAM — Projected Starters
QB - Zach Mettenberger (8)
RB - Alfred Blue (4)/Spencer Ware (11)
FB - J.C. Copeland (44)
WR - Odell Beckham Jr. (3)
WR - James Wright (82)
WR - Jarvis Landry (80)
TE - Chase Clement (88)
LT - Chris Faulk (76)
LG - La’el Collins (70)
C - P.J. Lonergan (64)
RG - Josh WIlliford (74)
RT - Alex Hurst (72)
DE - Sam Montgomery (99)
DT - Bennie Logan (93)
DT - Josh Downs (77)
DE - KeKe Mingo (49)
LB - Lamin Barrow (57)
LB - Kevin Minter (46)
LB - Luke Muncie (52)
CB - Tyrann Mathieun (7)
S - Eric Reid (1)
S - Micah Eugene (34)
CB - Tharold Simon (24)
PURPLE TEAM — Projected Starters
QB - Stephen Rivers (17)
HB - Kenny Hilliard (27)
FB - Jeremy Hill (33), but he’ll also play at HB
WR - Russell Shepard (10)
WR - Paul Turner (21)
LT - Chris Davenport (73)
LG - Josh Dworaczyk (68)
C - Elliott Porter (55)
RG - Trai Turner (56)
RT - Vadal Alexander (78) or Jonah Austin (71)
DE - Lavar Edwards (89)
DT - Anthony Johnson (56)
DT - Ego Ferguson (9)
DE - Jermauria Rasco (59)
OLB - Ronnie Feist (22)
MLB - D.J. Welter (31)
OLB - Lamar Louis (23)
CB - Jalen Collins (32)
FS - Ronald Martin (26)
SS - Sam Gibson (29)
CB - David Jenkins (25)
PREGAME NOTE: Backup QB Jerrard Randall (15) is in purple, so it looks likely he might take some snaps at other places in addition to quarterback.
FIRST QUARTER RECAP/NOTES
SCORE: White 0 - Purple 0
(Game action recaps from Richard Fischer; Analysis from Ben Love)
For six home games in the 2011 season, LSU fans were treated to dominating defense from the team in purple and gold.
In the first quarter of Saturday’s 2012 Spring Game, the story is no different — even with both teams wearing purple and gold.
The only offensive moment to write home about in the frame was a 54-yard connection from Zach Mettenberger to Jarvis Landry to get the White Team down to the 7-yard line. But they gave the scoring opportunity right back when a Mettenberger pass to Landry in the end zone was cut off by Purple Team safety Ronald Martin and returned to the Purple 40-yard line.
Purple worked it into field goal range once, but Drew Alleman missed a 45-yarder.
We go to the second quarter with the White team having the ball at midfield and the game tied at zero.
All in all, the Purple Team (second teamers) is holding up very well vs. the Tiger starters in White.
Purple Team Analysis
- (Offense) Kenny Hilliard is clearly the bell cow for this group early on. He’s behind reserve fullback Jason Slaydon, and he’s still moving the first-team defense back and getting his. He’s also been in a single-back set on occasion. Jeremy Hill has spelled him. WR Armand Williams dropped two balls on the opening series, though the first one was hotly contested by Tharold Simon. Here was the second team O-Line, from left to right: Davenport-Dworaczyk-Porter-Turner-Alexander.
- (Special Teams) Perhaps a sign of how much they like him, Paul Turner was deep to return the opening kickoff and punt for the Purple Team. Expect him to figure in to some conversations for special teams P.T. in the fall.
- (Defense) Jalen Collins made a nice deflection on a long ball attempted by Zach Mettenberger to James Wright. Collins and this second-team defensive backfield look good in the early going.
- (Special Teams) On the team’s second drive, Drew Alleman pulled a 45-yarder. No good. Interesting, but not alarming.
- (Defense) After the White Team got the ball all the way down to the 10 on its second drive, Ronald Martin stepped underneath a corner route from Mettenberger, intended for Jarvis Landry, and picked it off, followed by a 40-yard return. Impressive stuff for Martin.
- (Defense) Another young defender showing his mettle in this first quarter: OLB Ronnie Feist. He’s been behind the line of scrimmage on a couple of occasions, wrapping up Russell Shepard on an end-around and also disrupting a few other players. He’s been a really impressive and physical player this spring.
White Team Analysis
- (Defense) Micah Eugene did get the start with the first group at safety opposite Eric Reid. Don’t forget, Craig Loston is dealing with a toe injury.
- (Offense) Zach Mettenberger uncorked two long balls on the White Team’s first series — both aimed down the right sideline at James Wright. They were incomplete, but they at least showed No. 8’s range.
- (Offense) On the next series, Russell Shepard switched teams and played some with the first group. He appears to be just barely holding on to his status as a first-team receiver at this point (assuming three or four-wide sets). The first group, right now, is Wright, Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry … Speaking of Landry: Mettenberger, on second-and-10, maneuvered out of the pocket and threw a beauty of a deep ball (on the run) to Landry. Fifty-four yard gain down the right sideline. Nice catch and toe-tapping down the sideline by Landry. But then Mett put way too much air under a ball thrown for Landry in the end zone, and Ronald Martin undercut the corner route. Pick for Martin, who might just be a first-teamer by the time September comes along.
- (Defense) The first-team D-Line started to flex its muscles on the third Purple drive. Montgomery, Mingo and a host of others combined for a sack of Rivers on one play. On the very next, Josh Downs came barreling through and reached No. 17. This is a little bit of an indictment on the young, inexperienced second-team O-Line that the Purple Team is throwing out there, but it’s just as good a sign for the Tigers’ front four defensively (a White Team group that doesn’t include Ferguson, Johnson or Edwards).
- (Offense) James Wright hauls in a great catch, reaching behind him to pull in a laser of a ball from Mettenberger on third-and-five on the White Team’s third drive. It was only Mett’s second completion of the day, a little bit worrisome. But Wright has been the preferred target on the day — not a bad thing considering they’ll need his big-bodied frame to help replace Rueben Randle.
SECOND QUARTER RECAP/NOTES
SCORE: White 24 - Purple 3
White Team opened it up in the second period, and Mettenberger showed the full range of his talents.
On the first play of the quarter, he connected with Odell Beckham Jr. for a 49-yard score on third down. He beat Jalen Collins on the play.
Then on White’s next drive, he found OBJ again over Collins for 53 yards. Maybe most importantly, again it was on third-and-double digits. Then, he found Russell Shepard on a flag route on a perfect throw. Great coverage by David Jenkins so it had to be perfect.
On Purple’s ensuing drive, Stephen Rivers threw a bad pick-six to Eric Reid. Otherwise, Rivers has been serviceable.
Rounding out the half, Alleman booted a 43 then a 47 yarder — one for each team.
Purple Team Analysis
- (Defense) The second-team secondary is being tested pretty frequently by Mettenberger. The results have been some good and some bad. The bad: Beckham beat Collins deep for a 49-yard TD (see below on White Team analysis). The good: The next time out David Jenkins was game when Mett again went deep, this time for Wright. Great deflection and even better closing speed for Jenkins … But then Mettenberger added some more bad when he again found Beckham behind Collins deep for 53 yards.
- (Offense) After the Shepard touchdown, when the Purple squad finally got the ball back, Rivers threw a ball right into Eric Reid’s gut, and LSU’s junior-to-be safety took the gift back 55 yards for six. That stretched the lead to 21-0, White, and gave the White team 14 points in about 90 seconds.
- (Offense) Rivers atoned for that mistake on the Purple Team’s next series, throwing a dart to Paul Turner for a 30-yard completion on a slant route. Some good, some bad from Rivers, who isn’t as mobile in the pocket as Mett and doesn’t throw as good a deep ball, but he is rounding into a respectable back-up QB for the Tigers.
- (Defense) Real nice play by Anthony Johnson on third-and-seven late in the half when Mettenberger tried a sneaky underneath pass to Spencer Ware. Johnson, wearing Michael Brockers’ No. 90, devoured Ware. Purple Team D-Line has been more than serviceable, perhaps not getting tons of pressure on passing situations, but not allowing much on the ground either. It’s the secondary that’s been put on notice by Mettenberger.
White Team Analysis
- (Offense) Mettenberger heaves deep for Beckham on the quarter’s first play and finds him on the fade for a 49-yard touchdown and the game’s first points. That’s four times now Mettenberger has tested the defense deep down the right sideline. Interesting. Beckham managed to get behind Jalen Collins, who has had a bit of an up-and-down first half going up against a bunch of first-team receivers … And, as soon as I type this, Mettenberger finds OBJ deep again behind Collins. That’s five bombs down the right sideline in 19 minutes.
- (Offense) Capping off the White Team’s fourth drive, Mett threw an absolute strike in a tight window to find an outstretched Russell Shepard on a corner route in the end zone. The TD strike traveled 19 yards. Great throw and maybe an even better catch. Shepard beat Jenkins on the play. White receivers starting to gain some separation on Purple DBs this early … Mettenberger, with 9:25 left in the second frame, has completed seven of 14 passes for 198 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
- (Offense) Spending a lot of time on Mettenberger going deep, I know, but that’s the story of the second quarter. Toward the end of the first half, he hooked up with Landry on a nice deep out route that No. 80 then took, shook defender David Jenkins then got LSU inside the 30-yard line. Mett has done well in finding first-team receiving targets this half.
THIRD QUARTER RECAP/NOTES
SCORE: White 24 - Purple 10
With squad players on the field for both teams, Randall takes charge under center and guided the Purple Team down the field slowly. He was accurate and stayed within himself, running when the situation dictated.
The drive took 12 and a half minutes on a running clock and was capped off with a Tabari Williams one-yard plunge. The score made it 24-10, White.
Purple Team Analysis
- (Offense) Here was the next offensive line up that started in front of Jerrard Randall at quarterback for the Purple Team: (From Left) Evan Washington, Corey White, Josh Domingue, Trai Turner and Jonah Austin. White was flagged with a five-yard penalty on the second or third play from scrimmage.
- (Offense) Paced by running back Tabari Williams, the Purple Team marched on a 16-play, 75-yard scoring drive to open the half. Williams’ one-yard TD plunge gave Purple its first touchdown of the afternoon.
White Team Analysis
- (Defense) The White Team ‘D’ also started off with a lot of back-ups to begin the second half. Most notable in this group was Justin Maclin at defensive end.
FOURTH QUARTER RECAP/NOTES
SCORE: White 24 - Purple 17
Back to the starting units in the fourth — at least for one matchup (more below).
With Mettenberger at the helm, LSU goes mostly shotgun, but a false start penalty on Tyler Edwards serves as a drive killer.
Jerrard Randall still at QB for White, who runs a couple plays. Then they give it back to Purple.
Then on White’s possession, Tyler Edwards ruins Mettenberger’s stat line. Bad quarter for him. Edwards deflects a perfect pass into the air, where freshman linebacker Lamar Louis grabs it and takes it all the way back for a touchdown.
- The White Team offense (first-team LSU offense) and Purple Team defense (second-team LSU defense) stayed in just about the whole game. But it wasn’t nearly the same quality of play the other way around, where the White Team ‘D’ and Purple Team ‘O’ were digging deep into the depth chart.
- Great individual play from Lamar Louis, who was the recipient of Edwards’ missed grab/blooper. Louis may not be the physical striker fellow frosh Feist is, but boy is he fast. He took that pick and there was no one catching No. 23.
Editor Ben Love reports on LSU football and men’s basketball for Tiger Rag. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.