Jamal Adams will never forget the hit.
It jarred him in such a way that the then-freshman’s legs were swept under him, and he slammed against the turf at NRG Stadium in a heap.
Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon levied a forearm and shoulder pad into Adams’ chest on the rookie’s third career snap — a textbook pass-block he unfurled late in LSU’s 28-24 comeback win over the Badgers in 2014.
“I definitely remember Melvin Gordon. I remember him hitting me on a backside block,” Adams said. “I thought I was coming free (on a blitz), and he kind of cleaned me. He kind of welcomed me to college football. I was young.”
A week ahead of LSU’s season opener against that same program — the Badgers and sixth-ranked Tigers meet at Lambeau Field next Saturday — Adams is no longer young. He’s a junior preseason All-American, a 6-foot-1, 213-pound Texas native whom some project to evolve into a high enough NFL draft pick to leave early.
Adams is far from the only one who changed since that 2014 clash between LSU and Wisconsin in Houston. That served as the opening game for several players who are now in prominent roles.
Running back Leonard Fournette, a Heisman Trophy favorite, carried eight times for 18 yards in one of the lowest outputs of his career.
Brandon Harris, then a backup to Anthony Jennings, played in one first-half series. It resulted in a three-and-out and minus-9 yards. He was sacked, then lost 1 yard on a rush. Trey Quinn, no longer on this team after transferring in the spring, gained 2 yards on an end-around.
Receiver Malachi Dupre didn’t even make the trip to Houston for that game, staying in Baton Rouge to nurse a hamstring he hurt in preseason camp.
That 2014 game was the first part of a two-game neutral-site deal. LSU was paid $3.4 million by ESPN for the 2014 game and will be paid $2.1 million by the Green Bay Packers for next week’s game, according to a copy of both game contracts.
That first go-round included a now-familiar face on the other sideline. Dave Aranda, now running LSU’s defense, was in his second season as defensive coordinator at Wisconsin. His unit that night gave up 21 second-half points.
The Tigers coordinator at that time, John Chavis, is the one who called a blitz for the freshman Adams on second-and-10 with about 6 minutes left in the game. Adams crept to the line, wheeled around the right end and met Gordon in the backfield in a play that resulted in an incomplete pass.
It's a blitz he’ll never forget.
“I thought I was a little free coming on a blitz. Chief sent me,” Adams said referring to Chavis by his nickname. “(Gordon) definitely caught me.”
Clapp at 100 percent
Will Clapp, LSU’s starting guard, began preseason camp on time, despite being three months removed from hip surgery.
Everything went fine until Day 3.
“I had to realize I had some type of limitation,” Clapp said. “Probably pushed it a little too hard those first two days. Young and dumb, think I can go and do everything I used to be able to do on a bad hip. I had to take a break and start communicating (with the coaches) and being honest.”
He missed at least one practice, and likely several more, to rest the repaired hip, similar to the surgery center Ethan Pocic endured in January, forcing him to miss spring practice.
A week ahead of the season opener, Clapp says he’s had enough rest. The hip is “100 percent.”
“Now, I’m able to go the whole practice,” he said. “I’ve gone whole scrimmages. It feels back to what it used (to feel like).”
Clapp is rotating at both guard positions but primarily playing left guard. Josh Boutte is at right guard. Toby Weathersby and Maea Teuhema are rotating at right tackle, Pocic is at center and K.J. Malone is at left tackle.
"We’ve had enough reps with every group that we feel comfortable with each other," Clapp said. "Coach (Jeff) Grimes does a great job of making sure each group feels comfortable (so) it’s interchangeable throughout the season."