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Insider

Defense wins day despite TD passes

8/16/2012

Zach Mettenberger threw for five touchdown passes Thursday night in LSU's second scrimmage of August camp.

But head coach Les Miles insisted it was the defense that carried the day in the 120-play scrimmage held inside Tiger Stadium.

"We had about five drives that started in the red zone, so there were a number of opportunities for us to score," Miles said. "I think the defense probably won the day."

Mettenberger, LSU's junior quarterback, completed 15 of 26 passes for 170 yards with an interception. Miles mentioned touchdown passes of 15 yards to Odell Beckham, Jr., Nic Jacobs and Chase Clement, all in red zone situations.

Backup quarterback Stephen Rivers completed 8 of 15 passes for 70 yards while two running backs, Alfred Blue (13 carries, 106 yards) and Kenny Hilliard (17-100), broke the 100-yard barrier as the Tigers offense rushed for 300 yards.

Beckham led the receivers with 62 yards on five catches.

"The offense is coming," Miles said. "But there were some execution faux pas that we need to get corrected.

On defense, Miles singled out the play of safety Eric Reid and linebacker Kevin Minter, who had five tackles each.

"I thought the defense played well," Miles said. "I thought there was really good tackling and I thought the guys up front got after it."

Banged up: Thursday's scrimmage ended the pre-fall semester part of August camp. The Tigers take Friday off, practice through the weekend then start classes on Monday.

As expected, many Tigers limped toward the end of camp. Right tackle Alex Hurst did not play for a second straight scrimmage and was replaced by freshman Vadal Alexander. Left tackle Chris Faulk was banged up but played, splitting snaps with Josh Dworaczyk, who also played some at left guard along with La'el Collins.

Miles said he was not concerned about Hurst's health, noting that if LSU were playing a significant game, Hurst probably could have played.

"It is an opportunity for a young guy to take more snaps," he said.

Also on offense, tailback Spencer Ware was held out of action.

Miles said safety Craig Loston was slowed by injury and redshirt freshman Micah Eugene "played a lot of football" in his place. At cornerback, redshirt freshman Jalen Collins had been banged up, but Miles said he was a full go and competing with true freshman Jalen Mills and others with the first team.

Miles also acknowledged the loss of freshman Travin Dural to a knee injury earlier in the week. Miles said Dural had cartilage damage that required surgery and would probably head to a redshirt season.

No more partying: LSU players' longstanding tradition of hitting the town on the last night of camp was put to a stop.

Miles said his players would be "staying in," Thursday night, a year after the end-of-camp night out resulted in a bar fight at Shady's, an off-campus watering hole. Quarterback Jordan Jefferson and reserve linebacker Josh Johns were arrested in the aftermath and Jefferson wound up suspended for the season's first four games.

Miles, speaking after the scrimmage ended shortly before 7 p.m., said the team had an 8 p.m. meeting, then "they'll be staying in tonight."

Open tryouts: When school starts Monday, LSU will be allowed to increase its roster from 105 to 120 players with walk-ons.

Among the students expected to try-out Monday is Mo Isom, the female soccer player who got national attention in the spring when she tried out, but failed to make the team. Isom has tweeted that the will try out again Monday and that she has kicked a personal-best 53-yard field goal in preparations for her next try.