LSU’s football preparations for Oregon are like a game of shadows.
There is the plan the Tigers want to polish for their Sept. 3 opener, the game plan that includes players brought in for questioning Tuesday by Baton Rouge Police.
But if Plan A includes players like quarterback Jordan Jefferson, freshman receiver Jarvis Landry, linebacker Josh Johns and offensive tackle Chris Davenport, there is evidently a Plan B, too.
Not exactly a worst-case scenario, but an alternate reality nonetheless.
“We’re preparing if a happenstance were to occur,” LSU coach Les Miles said Tuesday after his team’s final preseason scrimmage, a 100-play workout at the indoor practice facility. “The information that’s forthcoming will certainly determine our course.”
That’s one of the main reasons LSU went 50-50 on the snaps at first-team quarterback between Jefferson and fellow senior Jarrett Lee.
Lee’s pocket-oriented skill set, like that of sophomore quarterback Zach Mettenberger, dictates a different type of play calling than the talents of the more option-oriented Jefferson.
But there are some things about LSU’s offense that won’t change no matter who is taking the snaps.
“We will work to be balanced,” Miles said. “I don’t think there’s any difference there at all. We’ll rush it and throw it and do the things we came here to do.”
A quick glance at the stats Miles read off from Tuesday’s scrimmage would tend to bear that out.
Without giving individual passing numbers, Miles said the LSU quarterbacks threw for 277 yards while the running backs rushed for 250.
On the receiving end, projected backup James Wright caught three passes for 69 yards while Russell Shepard had three for 50.
Spencer Ware continues to show no signs that he won’t be LSU’s starting running back against the No. 3-ranked Ducks.
Miles said he had eight carries for 63 yards, followed by Alfred Blue (four for 70) and Michael Ford (two for 30).
Defensively, Miles said middle linebacker Kevin Minter and tackle Bennie Logan each had four tackles, including a sack.
The scrimmage, which featured No. 4 LSU’s first and second strings against an Oregon scout squad, was closed to the media.
The scrimmage was split evenly between plays with live tackling and “thud” plays in which the contact does not continue to the ground.
“Very crisp,” Miles said.
“I certainly felt (Tuesday’s) practice was a very good one.”
And yet, it was just as certainly tinged by the fight at a south campus bar Friday morning that launched a highly publicized police investigation.
“I think our guys are a little weighed down by this,” Miles said. “I think we all are.”
After practice the Tigers ran, which Miles implied was part of the team punishment for what happened Friday.
There was a somber note in Miles’ voice that is reflective of the mood of his team right now.
“There is a bit more seriousness in our tone,” Miles said. “Light laughter is not something happening too much around the practice field.”
The attempt is to keep things as normal as possible, though Miles realizes that isn’t always easy.
“This is not normal,” he said. “There are consequences that can be felt right now.”
Collins looking good
With Davenport’s availability a question mark, attention has turned to freshman offensive lineman La’El Collins of Redemptorist High School.
Miles was happy to report that Collins has responded.
“He had a nice scrimmage,” Miles said. “He came off the football well and ran with the first team in a rotation. We’re more comfortable about his play, absolutely.”
Collins’ game worthiness is compounded by an unspecified injury to starting left guard Josh Dworaczyk.
“We won’t know for a week or so,” Miles said of Dworaczyk’s status for Oregon.
Freshman quarterback Jerrard Randall and running back Jakari Gore are featured in LSU’s game preparations as stand-ins for Oregon’s talented duo of quarterback Darron Thomas and running back LaMichael James.
Miles gave their performances Tuesday two thumbs up.
“They did a great job,” he said. “Randall gave us just the quickness we needed to see and made a couple of nice throws. And Gore ran in a very like manner as their great running back (James).”
Two signees ineligible
Defensive tackle Mickey Johnson, of Covington’s St. Paul’s, and wide receiver Alonzo Lewis, of St. James, have been ruled academically ineligible, Miles said.
Miles said the NCAA Clearinghouse didn’t approve one of Johnson’s high school courses taken over the summer and that he is trying to see what class he can take to become eligible.
Lewis will attend a junior college this fall, according to Miles.