Emily's Football Blog - Camp Ends
August 22, 2015
On Saturday, the Tigers scrimmaged for the second time during fall camp, and after a threat of lightning midway through the scrimmage in Tiger Stadium, Coach Miles and the team packed up and finished across the street in the indoor practice facility.
“We finished the scrimmage strong,” Miles said. “I think we ran the football well. I think we threw the football well. I think our defense is playing fast to the ball. I liked it.
“There are some things we need to clean up, some pre-snap penalties. Those were mostly young guys.”
It’s evident how strong the running back group is this year, and with the addition of two highly-sought after running backs in the 2015 class, Miles only expects this group to get stronger.
“I think we are a very talented running back crew,” Miles said. “Leonard, I think he broke one for about 80 [yards]. Darrel Williams is running hard, fast, makes nice cuts. Derrius Guice is a very physical back and a very fast back. Elusive.
“I don’t know that Nick Brossette has made a bad cut yet. I mean, in as many times as he’s touched the ball, I don’t know that he’s made a bad cut yet. It’s unusual. You just don’t see that often.”
With confidence in the run game, there was a focus on the passing game throughout fall camp. The addition of wide receiver coach Tony Ball paired with veteran and incoming talent has only made this group more of a threat.
“Well, the advantages are our wide receiving group is really maturing and coming,” Miles said. “They look dangerous. They are a quality, quality group. Our quarterbacks are getting them the ball. They know where it’s supposed to go. They are much more competent.”
The defensive staff has both starting defensive tackles back from last year in Christian LaCouture and Davon Godchaux, but they look to replace both starters at defensive end. The depth is there with guys who have experience, as well as some new faces.
“You can look forward to seeing him as a true freshman.”
Throughout spring ball and fall camp I’ve talked to numerous defensive players who have told me there have been some growing pains, but overall, the adjustment to new defensive coordinator Kevin Steele has been smooth. When I asked coach Miles how those adjustments have translated to the scrimmages, he was quick to give praise to this Tigers’ defense.
“We have a scheme that really can handle a lot of things,” Miles said. “I think we’re very quality over the top, and we can play over the top as good as anybody, keep the passing game in front of us. I think we are fast to the ball, violent. I like us. That linebacking core is very special.”
That’s it for fall camp coverage, Tiger fans! School starts on Monday, and the Tigers have an extra week to prepare for their first game versus McNeese State on September 5th. Don’t forget to keep coming back to LSUsports.net for continuing coverage of all things LSU Football throughout the 2015 season. It’s been another fun fall camp to cover, and you can catch much more from me this season.
August 21, 2015
From a walk-on tight end to this year's starting fullback, John David Moore has experienced an interesting path to becoming part of LSU's starting rotation.
After graduating from Ruston High, Moore received offers to play football from smaller schools, but decided instead to head down to Baton Rouge and try his hand at becoming a Tiger.
“It's been a windy road, but I have enjoyed every step of it,” Moore said. “I enjoyed my time as a tight end here and transitioning to fullback has been great.
“Working from the bottom all the way up to the top has been a real blessing. It's real great to have that perspective that I have knowing all the work that goes on with walk-ons and scout team guys.”
Moore's job title is summed up easily. He makes running room for one of the most talented college football players in the country: Leonard Fournette, and a group of young, talented running backs that have continued the standard of running back excellence in Baton Rouge.
Moore calls himself the “flashlight” for the running backs, which he thinks could be the best group of backs in the country.
“I think one of the most talented in the nation, bar none,” Moore said. “We've got guys like Leonard and Darel who have experience under their belt, and then we've got young guys, Derrius [Guice] and Nick [Brossette], just a whole stable full of guys that can get out there and tote the ball.”
The walk-on fullback is something we've seen frequently in recent years at LSU. A similar path was taken by fullback Connor Neighbors, who Moore called a mentor when it came to taking on a new role for the team.
“I was under him last year, so I definitely learned a lot from him, not only just about how to play the position, but coming from the walk-on status,” Moore said. “Even before him, James Stampley was a walk-on, so there's definitely a tradition of it here, so it's great having the knowledge of guys before me that have done this.”
When I spoke with running backs coach Frank Wilson in the spring about his group, he immediately told me about the leadership in the room - and singled out Moore as someone who has made his presence felt.
“Good thing we have J.D. [Moore] there,” Wilson said. “He is a young man who really had to step up at times last year. He's intellectually above and beyond what you would ask at the position, so his leadership is certainly felt there.
Added Moore: “We have a bunch of young guys, and as much talent as there is, there's a lot more than talent that needs to happen for us to be successful as a unit.
“It's crazy for me, personally, to think that I am the oldest veteran in the group, but it's the way it worked out. So I just have to take these younger guys under my wing, as well as Leonard and Darrel taking the guys under their wing, and really just teaching them to be students of the game.”
Hear more from Moore in my video about the running back group, his personal goals for the upcoming season and more!
August 19, 2015
The Tigers went through their last two-a-day practice of fall camp on Wednesday afternoon as the team prepares for another scrimmage this weekend.
Earlier this week, I caught up with senior wide receiver Travin Dural during Media Day to discuss his outlook on the 2015 season, which he said will be helped along by plenty of progress from the receivers behind him.
“I’ve seen a lot of guys grow,” Dural said. “I’ve seen a lot of guys mature and a lot of guys get stronger, faster and really learn the playbook. Guys are making catches that they normally did not make last year.
“The freshmen are coming [along]. They’re a new group and really learning the offense.”
LSU head coach Les Miles said quarterback Brandon Harris had the advantage in total snaps during the team's first scrimmage, and Dural told me it's very evident how much the sophomore has grown and matured since his freshman season.
“From last year to this year he has grown a lot,” Dural said. “He’s matured and he’s really taken the leadership role and embraced it. He’s grown up a lot from last year. He’s doing things that I didn’t see him do last year that I was hoping he would do, and he’s doing them now.
“He’s leading the team. He’s taken everything that happened to him and using it as motivation and using it as fuel, and he’s playing real well."
New wide receivers coach Tony Ball has been described as very technical, and you can definitely see that during practice. Dural said it’s always about focusing on the little things - and his attention to detail is distinct.
“Mainly, just worrying about ourselves and controlling what we can control,” Dural said. “He’s a guy who works on the little things a lot. He has a lot of drills for us and he wants us to be good in every aspect of the game.
After going through the first scrimmage over the weekend, Dural said there’s reason to feel good about LSU’s chances to rebound and turn in a big year on offense.
“It’s a group of guys that work hard,” Dural said. “Everybody’s growing and really learning their position and maturing every day.”
Watch my full video with Travin to hear more about Coach Ball and how the offense is matching up against the Tigers’ defense!
August 18, 2015
The Tigers participated in their first scrimmage of fall on Saturday afternoon, and I was able to catch up with one of the team’s most promising defensive backs: Rickey Jefferson.
While he’s not listed in the starting lineup, Jefferson has already experienced many memorable plays during his time as a Tiger - including an interception to help seal the win at Florida last year. And with each passing season, the memories get better and better.
“Definitely, I have enjoyed the experience,” Jefferson said. “Running out to 102,000 [fans] now was definitely life-changing with my brothers, who I work hard with every day and compete with for that one common goal. And it’s been like that ever since I’ve been here.
"It’s been a pleasure.”
National analysts say this could be the best trio of safeties in the country, and the Destrehan native agrees - believing strong that he, Jamal Adams and Jalen Mills will be able to perform to the hype.
“I’m very confident,” Jefferson said. “That’s one thing we have calling ourselves DBU – confidence and swagger – that we play with and we feel that nobody can stop us when we line up together. We just take that same confidence to every game we play and execute as well as we can.”
Each defensive player I’ve talked to during spring ball and fall camp has expressed excitement when talking about new defensive coordinator Kevin Steele, and Jefferson expressed those same sentiments when I asked him about moving on and fitting in under a new coordinator.
“We’re adjusting,” Jefferson said. “There have been some growing pains in the spring, but football is about adjustments. He’s a cool guy, very vibrant. He wants us to play like NFL pro-style, which I appreciate getting us ready for the next level.
“He’s very technical and very colorful. I love him.”
The Tigers have some veteran guys returning on the defensive side of the ball, but just like every camp, there is plenty of young talent for fans to look out for this season.
“On the defensive side, you’ve got guys like Arden Key,” Jefferson said. “He’s done some amazing things as far as pass rushing. Also, Isaiah Washington and Xavier Lewis, and Donte Jackson is pretty fast.
Jefferson has not only noticed the young guys on his side of the ball, but some freshmen on offense have also caught his eye.
“As far as offense, I like all of the little receivers,” Jefferson said. "They’re nice. I can’t wait for (Saturday’s) scrimmage so I can put my hands on one of them. It’s going to be fun. I’m looking forward to it.”
Of course, I couldn’t end my interview without asking Jefferson to state his case on the DBU debate.
“LSU is DBU because the standard we set here – the standard of excellence,” Jefferson said. “We look to stopping every opponent and holding top receivers to under 100 yards.
“Nobody can stop us. That’s how I feel, honestly.”
August 17, 2015
Sunday was LSU’s annual Media Day, and I sat down with sophomore running back Leonard Fournette for this week’s edition of ‘Inside the Huddle’ presented by Community Coffee.
I always enjoy talking with Leonard, because even though he's one of the most recognizable faces in college football, you quickly realize he’s just like any other player - just a college teammate who is focused on helping out his team in any way he can.
“They’ve improved a lot from when they first came here until now,” Fournette said. “Me and Darrell [Williams] are working with the young guys getting them prepared for game situations in case one of us goes down and gets hurt and we wouldn’t miss a beat. They’ll know every job they had to do and every position, and I think they are up for the task.”
I talked with Leonard in the spring about his expanding leadership role amongst the running back group, and he told me he learned the ropes from former LSU backs Terrence Magee and Kenny Hilliard, who took him under their wings when he was a freshman. Throughout summer and now fall camp, Fournette is embracing that role and helping the younger guys gets acclimated to college football.
“I have no choice, since I am one of the leaders on the team and in the running back group,” Fournette said. “I believe I have to. Me and Darrel and (walk-on fullback JD Moore) are taking full responsibility for everything they do. If they mess up, it’s our fault and we are going to continue to progress with them.”
The offseason has been filled with chatter of the Heisman Trophy and various awards for LSU's star running back, but like I talked about earlier this camp with head coach Les Miles, Leonard has remained humble and extremely focused on the season in front of him with this team.
“Just knowing that the team is first,” Fournette said. “Heisman talk and everything else really doesn’t matter. I’m more focused on getting better with my team and a national championship.”
Fournette had a very accomplished freshman season, rushing for over 1,000 yards and into the LSU record books. Now, he looks to expand on what he absorbed during his first year.
“The game speed, I’ve got that down pact,” Fournette said. “Learning plays, learning blocking schemes, I have that all down pact, and thanks to Darrel and (LSU running backs coach Frank Wilson) for teaching me.
“My freshman year went by fast. It was a great experience, and I am ready for my sophomore season to begin.”
To hear more from Leonard on what he’s working on outside of practice and the team’s motivation for the 2015 season, watch my full video with him at Media Day above!
August 14, 2015
Thursday morning's practice brought the heat again, but veteran defensive lineman Christian LaCouture told me it's not slowing this defensive line down a bit - and certainly hasn't halted a some newcomers from making a major splash.
“Arden, especially not being here this summer with Coach Moffitt, is going out there and doing his thing. It's a great thing to see, so we are really excited about both of those two.”
It's amazing the type of shape Key showed up in for fall camp. After missing the three months the other freshmen had with Coach Moffitt in the weight room, Key didn't skip a beat. I talked to him earlier in camp about his summer progress away from the team, and his response was simple.
“If my teammates are working right now, I'm working right now,” Key said.
Throughout the off-season, some have described LaCouture and sophomore defensive tackle Davon Godchaux as the best defensive tackle-tandem in the SEC. Their successful relationship on the field directly translates once the game is over. When you see one, the other isn't too far behind.
“He's awesome,” LaCouture said. “I love him like a brother. I took him under my wing when he first got here, and he obviously had a great year last year. Him and I are really just trying to a take hold of the defensive line under Coach O and be those leaders.
“We want to make sure everybody is ready to go during camp and what is expected of us to do during the year. I think if we do that, we'll be okay.”
While LaCouture and Godchaux remain as the starting defensive tackles, the coaching staff has the task of replacing both starting defensive ends from last year's team. LaCouture echoed the same thoughts as head coach Les Miles when it comes to who could possibly see playing time at this spot.
“I think Arden Key and Isaiah Washington will be two of them,” LaCouture said. “Of course you've got Tashawn Bower, Lewis Neal and Sione Teuhema, guys like that who have stepped up at defensive end being the older guys.
“Lewis and Tashawn came in with me and this is their third camp, so they know what is expected of them to do and show the young guys, since it's their first time, what's going on.”
When it came time to pick his favorite memory of Coach Orgeron so far, he couldn't come up with just one - which seems to be the case with most of the players.
“There are so many to choose from,” LaCouture said. “He's just trying to get us in the best shape he can and we love him to death for that. He's a great coach and an even better person off the field. He's like a true father figure for us and we're real excited for this year for him.”
August 13, 2015
The Tigers got a much needed change of pace when Tuesday afternoon’s second practice was moved indoors. And even with a two-a-day practice, sophomore safety Jamal Adams told me the team’s energy was right where it needed to be.
Adams broke onto the scene during his freshman season in 2014, becoming a Freshman All-American and member of the All-SEC Freshman Team after playing in all 13 games with two starts.
“I think towards the beginning of the season I was definitely slow,” Adams said. “I had to learn my checks and learn the personnel, but once I got that, I think that I learned a lot from the older guys just looking up to them and picking up the speed and what I had to do to help our team.”
I've had a lot of fun asking the defensive backs their stance on the “DBU debate”, and Adams, who has been very vocal about his position on the subject, is confident that this defensive backs group at LSU is the best in the country - but feels like they don’t have to say much more on the topic.
“As a secondary, we don’t really focus on that,” Adams said. “We come out each and every day and Coach Raymond stays on us and working hard and working on our craft. We feel that we are the best, but that’s not our place, so we will just keep on working.”
There is no doubt that this defensive back group carries a lot of swagger. Each time you see these guys together they are having fun and always carry a lot of energy. And while the term ‘swagger’ is often brought up surrounding Adams, he says it’s not about individuals showing confidence but about the team.
“I don’t think my swagger is really different from the others,” Adams said. “I think it’s the swagger itself as a team. It’s definitely not just the look, but it’s learning everything and being that vocal leader back there. It’s knowing your different personnel and different checks. I think that’s the whole 'what swagger really means'.”
After a full year of being a Tiger, Adams has a new focus heading into his second season of college football.
“This year I really took the role of being a vocal leader,” Adams said. “I’m just trying to help the guys out back there if they don’t know anything, a check or personnel.
“I’m really just trying to be more vocal and seeing things before they happen. I think that’s really where I tried to up my game.”
Hear more from Jamal about freshmen standing out and how two-a-days are going in my interview above!
August 12, 2015
After a rest day on Tuesday, the Tigers were back at in on Wednesday morning with two-a-day practices. After the Monday morning session, I caught up with senior defensive back Jalen Mills.
Mills has been a key part to this LSU secondary for the past three seasons, starting every game of his career and playing each defensive pack position. Heading into his senior year and final season as a Tiger, there’s no doubting where Mills’ focus is as he prepares for the 2015 season.
“I want to give it all I’ve got for these guys,” Mills said. “For the most part, I want to stay as healthy has possible.”
We had a drop-in on the interview this morning when sophomore defensive back Jamal Adams stopped by, and it gave me the perfect opportunity to see what the veteran thought about the performance of the younger guys so far throughout fall camp.
“Jamal is doing a great job, and even the whole group,” Mills said. “Guys are flying around and giving 110-percent effort.”
While the defensive staff has seen some shakeup since Mills’ freshman year until now, one constant is defensive backs coach Corey Raymond, who is not only a successful coach but also one of the best recruiters in the country.
“He’s just a technician,” Mills said. “He really teaches the position and shows you more than one way to be able to play your position, whether it’s safety, nickel or corner. That helps a lot when you are going against different teams – teams who throw ball and going against teams who run the ball."
Each defensive player that I’ve spoken to since spring ball has told me to expect the same high-powered intensity from the LSU defense with new coordinator Kevin Steele, and Mills said each player is adjusting to the change in a good way.
“Everybody has accepted the defense that he’s brought here,” Mills said. “Guys are willing to learn and guys are playing fast.
“Coach Miles says it almost every day, that the defense he sees is improving every day. I think guys will really buy into the scheme that (Steele) has brought."
And what about all of this chatter about who is the real DBU? Fans know the answer, but it’s always good to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth.
“I feel like it’s us guys,” Mills said. “Not competing against anybody else or any other team. We are competing against each other on this team. Me competing against Jamal trying to make more plays than him, and him trying to make more plays than me. Shaq, Toliver, Ed – them competing against each other.
“It’s us competing against each other that makes us so great. We are competing against us and we are competing against the best guys in the country and we are all on the same team."
Watch my full interview with Jalen Mills for more tidbits about the upcoming season!
August 10, 2015
On Monday morning the Tigers hit the practice field for the first full-squad practice of fall camp, and I caught up with sophomore receiver Malachi Dupre after the summer’s first practice in full pads.
“It went really well,” Dupre said. “The younger guys are learning really fast and coming along. The offense is taking big steps, and for the first day the team was fully together I think we did a really good job.”
Dupre, who was ranked as the No. 1 receiver in the country in 2014, is excited about the new faces and talent that join the wide receiver group - which includes one of the class of 2015’s top-ranked receivers: Tyron Johnson.
“I was a freshman last year, so I know what it takes to come along really fast, and I think they are doing just that and learning really fast,” Dupre said. “They are taking real mental reps. Starting with (wide receivers coach Tony Ball) in the film room before we get on the field, they are learning a lot. So when we get on the field, it is second nature to them.”
It’s no secret that LSU head coach Les Miles looks to his talented freshman class each year when it comes to filling out the best players on each side of the ball, and Dupre thinks that approach will be no different this year.
“I think it's going to take us all,” Dupre said. “Last year we didn’t do as well as we should have passing the ball and outside blocking on the perimeter, but I think with Coach Ball coming in, he’s adding a lot of energy to us and telling us that we all have to play a big role.
“I think we all buy into it and believe in it, and we can see it all coming together. I think with guys like Jazz [Ferguson], Tyron [Johnson] and Derek [Dillon] coming in strong and fast and learning well, that’s going to allow them to get playing time.”
Dupre is also confident that another new face, Ball, will help this group perform better on the field with all the talent on that side of the ball.
“He came in coaching a lot of guys who have talent,” Dupre said. “His biggest emphasis with us is the little things and being tedious on technique and fundamentals.”
Dupre takes his experiences from his own freshman campaign to help himself and the guys younger than him to continue to improve.
“I was fortunate enough to get some playing time as a freshman last year, and moving forward, I am just going to try and work on the mistakes that I did last year and try not to make those mistakes again,” Dupre said. “Moving forward, especially with a guy like Coach Ball coming in, I got to learn a lot from Coach Henry last year and having a whole new coach, I get to take two different coaching styles and combine them.
“I learned a lot from two different coaches with me just being here a year so far, so I am going to take what I learned last year under my belt moving forward.”
Coach Miles also met with the media after Monday’s practice, which you can check out here.
And, if you aren’t excited enough about only being 26 days away from football season, the tremendously talented LSU Video Staff released the official hype video for the 2015 season. You can check out here. I’m certain you will have goosebumps just like I did.
August 6, 2015
The tradition continues and a new No. 18 has been named! Junior Tre'Davious White is the next in line for the LSU honor.
One of the qualities of the player who wears No. 18 is strong leadership ability, and after talking with White after Thursday morning’s practice, you can see why his teammates and coaches chose him to represent the Tigers with No. 18.
“It feels great,” White said. “It’s an honor. I just pride myself on doing the best thing and being a character guy on and off the field, so it’s an honor to get that from the coaches and everybody in the football office.
“I plan on wearing it with pride.”
The veterans and select freshmen hit the field Thursday morning for the first practice of fall camp, and not even the scorching temperature could slow down the Tigers.
“Coach Miles and the staff do a great job preparing us for the season and putting everything in front of us like these tough practices,” White said. “It is everything we live for. This is what Tigers do. I just come out every day and try to work hard.”
White, a three-year starter at cornerback, is joined by other returning defensive backs Jalen Mills, Rickey Jefferson and Jamal Adams this fall. And these veterans, paired with some new incoming freshmen, increase the talent for “DBU” in a big way.
“We will be as good as we want to be as we work and prepare for the season,” White said. “I feel like we have been doing a great job starting off in the spring and going into the summer watching film and bonding together on and off the field. If we keep doing that, we’ll have a heck of a year.”
The Shreveport native, who is also a major piece to the Tigers’ special teams game, uses his experience from his first two years on the team to help the younger guys establish good habits early.
“I use it a lot,” White said. “I’ve been in pretty much every phase of the game, and I feel like I have a lot of experience to give back to the guys – good things and bad things – that I’ve learned from a lot.
“I tell the guys ‘learn from the mistakes that I had’, because I tell them about those things so they won’t make the same mistakes.”
White praised sophomore Ed Paris and incoming freshmen Donte Jackson and Kevin Toliver II as players to watch at cornerback for the Tigers this season. LSU has a deep group to pick from, and White said new defensive coordinator Kevin Steele’s message is to keep the intensity up as the competition starts brewing.
“Great attitude,” White said. “Great effort and a defensive attitude like the typical LSU defense – fired up and the best in the nation.”
This defensive back group is a tight-knit group, and it is obvious the bond these young men share with each other starts with the leadership from defensive backs coach Corey Raymond.
“It’s definitely like a father-son relationship,” White said. “I mean, he’s going to get on you and you just have to take the coaching, and I feel like he is the best in the business. He is a guy that has played in the league, so he knows everything that the offense can throw at you.
“I pretty much listen to everything he says even if I don’t want to hear it. He made me a great player, because I have progressed every year I’ve been here. I give all the thanks to him and the coaching staff for molding me to be who I am.”
August 5, 2015
The Tigers are back in town!
With 31 days to go until the 2015 football season kicks off, the LSU football team reported for fall camp on Wednesday afternoon. Head Coach Les Miles had his first meeting with the local media to discuss his team, and I caught up with him afterward (video below) to get some more information.
Miles enters his 11th season with the Tigers which spans the winningest 10-year stretch in the school’s history. After a decade in purple-and-gold, Miles said he's more than ready to begin the next chapter in Baton Rouge.
“It’s always just a great pleasure to represent the Tigers,” Miles said. “Every time I have taken the field with the team that wears purple and gold, they’ve done it with great effort and energy, and they love being a Tiger.
“Going into my 11th season, it just doesn’t get any better than this. It’s a great group of young men to coach. I represent a great school. It’s just the best.”
LSU’s three new coaches will make their debut this fall, but they are currently putting their final preparations in before the start of the season.
“The players have really taken to the new coaching staff,” Miles said. “I think [Defensive coordinator] Kevin Steele is a great teacher. [Defensive line] coach [Ed] Orgeron is fun to be coached by and he has great technique and ability. Tony Ball at wide receiver is also making a young group of wide receivers grow up very quickly.”
Adding to the new faces are 23 freshmen reporting for the 2015 class, which ranked as one of the top signing classes in the country.
“This group of guys is talented and capable,” Miles said. “We’d expect that a number of them would play. This is a number of very, very quality freshmen.”
In his session with the media, Miles was quick to recognize the situation at the quarterback position and told me what type of leader he would like to see under center.
“I want [Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris] to be great teammates,” Miles said. “I want them to serve the team. I want, obviously, their skills to be able to make the ten players around them most capable.
“I am expecting a different style of leader at the quarterback spot. Manage the game certainly, but serve the offense.”
One of the brightest spots on LSU’s offense belongs to sophomore running back Leonard Fournette. While he is definitely the most recognizable player on this team and already up for a multitude of awards, he is also one of the most humble and focused players on the roster, and Miles sees that leadership as an advantage for the Tigers this fall
“The key to a guy like Leonard is that he’s never satisfied with who he is,” Miles said. “In other words, he is going to come to the practice field in a very humble way. He is going to work hard at his trade. He is going to improve.”
We could go on and on about this team, but it is only day one - and we have a long way to go!
Watch my full interview with Coach Miles above, and don’t forget to keep coming back to LSUsports.net for updates throughout all of fall camp!