“Fight pressure with pressure,” Dave Aranda politely told his inside linebackers. “Good job, guys. Get some water.”
No, this is certainly not the animated Kevin Steele or the demonstrative John Chavis.
Aranda conducted his first spring practice as LSU’s new defensive coordinator Monday, flashing his calm demeanor and cerebral approach as the Tigers opened spring drills at the Charles McClendon practice fields.
Already, there were obvious changes to LSU’s defensive practice routine – noticeable tweaks that point toward Aranda’s shifting of the team from a 4-3 to a 3-4. Linebackers, for example, were split into two groups – inside linebackers and outside linebackers.
Aranda worked with the inside guys, including Kendell Beckwith, Donnie Alexander and Devin White, a mid-year enrollee coaches have already moved from running back to linebacker. Bradley Dale Peveto worked with the outside backers, including mid-year enrollee Michael Divinity and Duke Riley.
Also in that outside linebacker group: defensive ends Isaiah Washington and Arden Key.
“His base (defense) lines up in a four down personnel,” coach Les Miles said in a post-practice news conference. “We have the ability to change it in a variety of ways. It’s really systematic, and I think we’ll find that he’ll have the opportunity to gang up on opponents’ formations in the right way.
“It’s a pretty well-conceived defense,” the coach continued. “I think you’ll enjoy it.”
Reporters were allowed to watch about 25 minutes of mostly individual drills Monday. The Tigers practice Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday this week.
White’s addition to Aranda’s unit gives the Tigers another big body a thin position group. The former North Webster star signed as a running back, and Miles said at national signing day that he’d start his career there.
Things changed during a staff meeting and a subsequent text from White to Miles.
“We went around the room and voted, talked about his skills, then we talked about his lower body skills and upper body skills and we talked about his contact,” Miles said. “He texted me and he said, ‘Hey listen. I was thinking if maybe I played linebacker, I could get on the field sooner.’ I said that might be true.”
Throwing it around
LSU coaches broke down videotape of other teams’ offenses during the off-season, and they’ll spend more time than ever before on the passing game this spring than ever before, Miles said Monday.
“We’re taking an inordinate amount of time at the beginning of practices to set up, technically, our throwing game,” the coach said. “Let’s just say we’re starting practice throwing the football. Some of our meeting time is donated to (throwing the) football.”
Miles said last month that LSU would visit other schools to study their offenses, and that the team would change how it approaches the passing game during spring drills.
“We had some schools visit us,” Miles said. “We did some off-season - very little time - studies. Brought in film, cut it up and really did some good work on some opponents and some guys who throw the football really well.”
Jennings, Guice absent
Quarterback Anthony Jennings and running back Derrius Guice were not at Monday’s first practice, and Miles said he’s unsure if Jennings will join the team this spring. The coach said he’s “hoping” Guice will begin practicing this spring at some point.
They were two of about “10-12” players, Miles said, who missed the opening day of drills. Miles attributed the absences to injuries or academic issues.
Those absent while recovering from injury included Kevin Toliver (shoulder surgery), safety John Battle, receiver Travin Dural (hamstring surgery) and J.D. Moore (knee surgery). Defensive back/linebacker Corey Thompson and offensive lineman Jevonte Domond were also absent from practice.
Martin announces signing day
McDonogh 35 defensive end Sci Martin has scheduled his signing date: It’s this Friday.
Martin will sign with either LSU, TCU or Alabama during a ceremony set for about 11:30 a.m. at his New Orleans-based high school, he said in a text message.
Martin, a 6-4, 230-pound three-star prospect, is a TCU commitment who many believe the Tigers have a shot to flip. He did not sign with a school on national signing day last month because his mother fell ill and was hospitalized.
LSU has plenty of room for more signees in the 2016 class.
LSU signed 23 prospects, including five midyear enrollees, in the 2016 class. Two of those five are expected to count back to the 2015 class, leaving the Tigers with as many as four open spots in this year’s group. Teams are allowed to sign a maximum of 25 new scholarship players each year.
Martin is one of many the Tigers are targeting to fill out the class.
LSU offered Holmes County Community College defensive end Josiah Coatney, 247Sports.com reported Monday. Coatney, a 6-5, 285 pounder, has offers from Alabama, Florida, Mississippi State and Ole Miss, according to 247Sports.com.
Coatney, a native of Douglasville, Georgia, will visit South Carolina on March 19, the website reported. He finished with three sacks, 46 tackles and an interception in his freshman season last year at Holmes. Coatney would have three years of eligibility at LSU.
Another 2016 prospect on LSU’s radar, East St. John receiver Da’Monte Coxie, is likely headed to junior college. The LSU commitment visited Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College last month.
Miles confirmed that defensive line coach Ed Orgeron has been named recruiting coordinator, something The Advocate reported Saturday. “He is fired up for that, I guarantee it,” Miles said. The coach would not confirm offensive coordinator Cam Cameron’s new three-year contract, which The Advocate reported Saturday as well. … LSU will practice in no pads again Tuesday before donning shoulder pads on Thursday and adding full pads next week, Miles said.
Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter @RossDellenger.