BATON ROUGE -- Maybe it was a good chance to take a rest before next week's spring game, or maybe it was a precaution. It's hard to say.
But LSU's football practice Thursday -- it's 11th of the spring -- was one of the most lightly participated of the spring season so far. Between offense and defense, the Tigers were missing about six major contributors.
Craig Loston, who has had hold of the starting strong safety spot all spring, was out, and he was replaced by Ronald Martin in the first string secondary. Loston was just talking last week about how the key to his success so far this year has been his ability to stay healthy.
Among other starters who missed the afternoon session were center P.J. Longergan and linebacker Tahj Jones. Elliott Porter took Lonergan's place as the starter along the offensive front, which is unsurprising given the praise LSU coach Les Miles has dropped on the sophomore this spring. Luke Muncie and Ronnie Feist saw a lot of work in place of Jones.
Tiger running backs Michael Ford and Terrence Magee have been injured or at least hobbled for the majority of the spring season, and both sat out of Thursday's practice. Ford has been in a green no-contact jersey since the very start of practice and finally took off a day today.
Defensive end Chancey Aghyaere, who has been a pretty routine absentee this spring, was also out of practice.
On the other end of the spectrum, fullback J.C. Copeland worked out in a white jersey, rather than green, for the first time this year.
Considering that it's spring, none of these absences necessarily mean anything. It's pretty common for players, especially more established contributors, to miss days for academic or personal reasons. But it was easily the highest number of missing players since practices began at the start of the month.
On point: There's only so many times it can be interesting to talk about the quarterbacks, and how successful they can be in a non-game setting.
Still, it bears mentioning that all three QB's were consistently on target during workouts with wide receivers, despite a fairly consistent breeze at the practice fields. One new thing to notice: in position drills, a player's order is generally a good indicator of his spot on the depth chart. Zach Mettenberger throws first, followed by Stephen Rivers, followed by Jerrard Randall, etc.
However, Jarvis Landry has taken to dropping himself well down the list of receivers during drills. It doesn't look like a big deal, until you notice that he purposefully positions himself so that he's always catching passes from Mettenberger -- never Rivers or Randall. Landry is trying to work on his timing as much as possible with the starters. Smart strategy.
Coaches clinic: This weekend marks LSU's annual coaches clinic, and practice was flooded with high school coaching staffs from all over the state. It was fun to see the likes of Dutchtown coach Benny Saia watching former standout Eric Reid at practice, or the O. Perry Walker staff getting on Anthony Johnson's case for taking his helmet off during practice.
You have to assume it's good for the Tigers' recruiting efforts to have opportunities to build relationships with so many coaches at once.
Bloodied up: The Tigers' Big Cat Drill went about the same as it has all spring, except it got slightly rougher than usual. There were no fights, but defensive end Jordan Allen came away from a pretty physical scrum with blood dripping down the bridge of his nose. That got a predictably excited reaction from his defensive comrades.