Andre Anthony and Ray Thornton, two young edge-rushing talents, were on the field at the same time during a pass-rushing nickel package LSU employed during Tuesday's open portion of practice.
And cornerback Donte Jackson participated in an offensive jetsweep drill, while also, later in practice, shifting inside to play nickel.
What's it all mean? Who knows. It's still April, more than four months before the season opener against BYU, so don't rush to any judgments.
Still, it's worth briefly touching on.
LSU's full defensive unit, aside from linemen, operated in a five-defensive back nickel with two outside linebackers, something we rarely saw last season. Here's how the first-string unit looked:
- F-OLB: Ray Thornton
- Buck: Andre Anthony
- ILB: Michael Divinity
- ILB: Devin White
- CB: Andraez Williams/Saivion Smith (rotation)
- CB: Kevin Toliver
- NB: Donte Jackson
- S: Jacoby Stevens
- S: Grant Delpit
You're probably wondering where projected starters like safeties John Battle and Ed Paris were, right? They were watching. Coaches often rest veterans in certain drills as to give younger guys — like the two rookies — more snaps.
Jackson at nickel is something different, too. Xavier Lewis, playing No. 1 nickel earlier in spring, watched on the sideline, likely for the same reasons as Paris and Battle. Coaches called on the "No. 2s" to enter, sending Cameron Lewis and Eric Monroe onto the field as safeties.
Divinity replaced projected starting ILB Donnie Alexander, out for the rest of spring while recovering from shoulder surgery. Speaking of inside linebackers, the No. 2s at ILB were walk-ons, as expected: Layton Garnett and Jonathan Rucker. Another walk-on, Abraham Wallace, played at nickel with the second-string.
Greg McMahon’s place is in the back of the meeting room in a corner.
But let's talk about that formation. LSU rarely played with its two outside linebacker on the field at the same time last season while also with five DBs.
DC Dave Aranda's base is four DBs and two outside linebackers,and he often pulled the F-OLB off the field when inserting a fifth defensive back (LSU played more in this formation than any other). Orgeron and Aranda have talked this spring about how the defense will change this season because of the loss of versatile defensive linemen like Lewis Neal and Davon Godchaux, guys who could play outside and rush the passer. Aranda hinted in December that he'll use more outside linebackers this year in pass-rushing roles. Maybe that's what we're seeing here.
As for Jackson running through an offensive drill, it can't come as a complete surprise. LSU has used Jackson's track speed in a variety of ways since he arrived in 2015. He dabbled in offense as a freshman, especially in preseason camp ahead of the '15 season, and he returned punts and sometimes kickoffs last year.
This is the second in a seven-part series being published this week ahead of LSU's spring ga…
Other practice observations
- New absentees: Defensive linemen Deondre Clark and Frank Herron were absent from practice Tuesday — or they were not present during the 20-minute period reporters got to watch drills. TE Jamal Pettigrew (ankle) remains out of practice.
- In gold: TE Caleb Roddy donned a gold jersey, which signifies limited contact, usually because of injury. He joins FB J.D. Moore, DL Christian LaCouture and OL Donavaughn Campbell in gold. That trio has worn gold jerseys for much of spring.
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