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Thursday, October 4, 2012
Notebook: Copeland returns to work

By Gary Laney

BATON ROUGE, La. -- When LSU fullback J.C. Copeland left the Towson game last week with an apparent knee injury, it looked scary.

He didn't put any weight on his knee when he was helped off the field. It was iced and he walked off the field on crutches, putting no weight on the leg. On Monday, Tiger players and coach Les Miles suggested his backup, Connor Neighbors, was about to make his first start.

So it came as a bit of a surprise to the gathered media Wednesday when Miles said that Copeland was not only back at practice, but running with the first team heading into Saturday's game at Florida.

"I think he is a young guy that had his leg turned in a different direction and that didn't translate too well to him. [The knee] didn't swell and it's not very tender."

The junior was more scared of what he felt that anything else, Miles said. He went through tests early in the week on the knee and was back in the mix Wednesday at practice, full speed.

Copeland's presence is huge for LSU's physical running game. A converted defensive tackle, he's an imposing figure as a lead blocker. Strictly a lead blocker before this season, he's worked on his ball skills enough where he's become a viable goal-line option this season with three rushing touchdowns.

Mettenberger a deep threat: LSU's passing game has had its struggles, but Zach Mettenberger is giving the Tigers a deep threat with his arm.

According to ESPN Stats and Information, the LSU junior quarterback has completed 60.7 percent of his passes thrown 15 yards or more downfield and has been worse than 50 percent in only one game (Auburn).

Completing deep passes is a good sign for LSU. According to ESPN Stats and Info, LSU is 13-0 since the start of 2010 when it completes more than half of its passes of 15 yards or more.

Pressure packed: LSU is bringing the heat with its pass rush.

The Tigers are pressuring quarterbacks on 59 of 161 (36.6 pct) of opponents’ dropbacks this season, ESPN Stats and Info says. By their stats, Barkevious Mingo leads the Tigers in pressuring the opposing quarterback 13 times (he officially has seven quarterback hurries). Sam Montgomery is second with eight.

Consider this tidbit: Of those 59 plays, 41 of them (69.5 pct) came when the Tigers sent four or fewer pass rushers.

Driskel a rushing option: LSU's defense will have to worry about the legs of Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel.

ESPN Stats and Info said he has at least one rush of 20 or more yards every game this season and has four 20-yard runs on bootlegs. He's averaging 11.1 yards per carry on designed runs and 9.4 yards on scrambles.