The LSU quarterbacks, and Lowell Narcisse in particular, had their best showing of the spring as the first-team offense scored twice on the first-team defense twice in a scrimmage Saturday, LSU coach Ed Orgeron said.
LSU’s starting offense hadn’t gone the length of the field to score on the starting defense in any previous scrimmage, the coach added. Orgeron glowed about the performance on both sides of the ball from what he characterized as the most intense scrimmage of his time in Baton Rouge.
“I wanted to have a day where the offense and the defense both had great days,” Orgeron said. “I thought today that happened.”
The scoring drives came during a 30-play live scrimmage, according to Orgeron. LSU also had live periods devoted to third downs — both 3-to-6 yard situations and third-and-7+ — with the offense winning both. Other segments were devoted to red zone, which the defense won, and a two-minute drill.
Orgeron said LSU offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger rotated all three quarterbacks in on the two scoring drives, but he was high on the work Narcisse did with his first-team reps.
“He had some scrambles and some big passes,” Orgeron said. “He’s improved every day.”
Narcisse was 7-of-10 for 143 yards yards. Myles Brennan again threw the ball well going 10-of-20 for 98 yards, and Justin McMillan finished 5-of-16 for 62 yards.
Overall Orgeron was complimentary of all three quarterbacks and the improvement they’ve shown as spring has progressed into the later stages.
“We threw the ball very well today,” Orgeron said. “I thought the quarterbacks did a tremendous job today. We had some drops. I know Jerry (Sullivan) is disappointed. I thought the quarterbacks showed the most improvement today.”
LSU is running the same plays for all three quarterbacks up to this point, and Orgeron said LSU will have about 35 percent of the offense installed by the end of spring, but once LSU picks a quarterback, it’ll gear the rest of the offense toward his specific skillset.
“Lowell would do a little bit more quarterback runs and Myles would do a little bit more drop-back passes,” the coach said. “It’s almost (like picking an offense as much as a quarterback). It feels a little bit like that, but we’re going to do some things with both quarterbacks … All three are running everything, but if a quarterback’s skillset demands we do certain things, we’re going to do it.”
There’s still zero indication LSU is any closer to deciding on a starter and the battle is expected to continue on into fall camp.
JUCO transfer Damien Lewis rotated in with the first-team offense at both left and right guard, Orgeron said, and one of the persistent standouts of the spring apparently made a noticeable impact in the way LSU blocked Saturday.
“I thought that helped us out,” Orgeron said. “There was still a couple of quarterback pressures that we need to improve on, but I thought our run blocking was a lot better.”
Orgeron has often commented that LSU is going to need to find a place for Lewis on the first-team offensive line. He’s only working at guard at this point, the coach said, but there’s a chance left guard Garrett Brumfield could work at center sometime in the future.
Don’t count out center Lloyd Cushenberry yet, either. Orgeron praised the redshirt-sophomore and noted that he was the highest-graded offensive lineman in LSU’s previous scrimmage.
Orgeron said early enrollee Cole Smith has also done some good work despite giving up some serious tonnage to nose tackle Tyler Shelvin.
The signing of cornerback graduate transfer Terrence Alexander meant Orgeron could comment publicly for the first time on the new defensive back he’d been dropping hints about all spring.
Alexander will compete for both the starting cornerback spot opposite Greedy Williams and the nickel back spot that’s been something of a revolving door throughout the spring.
“Obviously we’re excited about him because he’s played some games and he’s experienced,” Orgeron said. “He’s fast. Very smart young man. He’s studying already. Very motivated, mature. He’ll have a chance to start.”
There are still some details being worked out with Alexander’s enrollment date for the summer because Stanford has a later academic calendar than does LSU. In the meantime, he can familiarize himself with the playbook like any other signee.
Signing Alexander leaves one open spot remaining for LSU in 2018. Orgeron said LSU is considering a variety of options in terms of filling the spot as opposed to rolling it over into 2019, but there isn’t the apparent marriage of need and availability that made Alexander an obvious fit.
“We’re going to have to see at the end of spring how things pan out,” he said. “We’ll do what’s best available for our team.”
WE ARE MARSHALL
Early-enrollee receiver Terrance Marshall still hasn’t been fully cleared for contact, but Orgeron said he’s come on strong as he’s gotten healthier this spring.
The five-star pass catcher made two outstanding, one-handed grabs during practice on Thursday, per Orgeron, who estimated he’s about 85 percent back to full strength.
“He looks like a receiver that is getting healthy,” the coach said. “He’s not all the way there yet, but he made some one-handed catches that were wild catches. He was maybe the MVP of the day on Thursday.”
– RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire: 18 carries for 109 yards and 5 TDs (most were goal line carries with the second team, according to Orgeron)
– TE Thaddeus Moss: Two “outstanding catches” in what Orgeron called his best showing of the spring.
– Linebackers Patrick Queen and Jacob Phillips had strong scrimmages. “It would be nice if Devin (White) didn’t have to play every snap,” Orgeron said. “If we could keep him fresh and rotate those. Linebackers.”
– DL Davin Cotton has posted a number of strong practices and scrimmages since being cleared for full contact after spring break. “He’s healthy and he plays with a tremendous motor,” Orgeron said. “He’s coming.”